Years ago on a visit to New York, I was passed the best coffee cake recipe. An elderly neighbor had brought some to the home of my daughter’s Aunt and it was an amazing example of Classic Coffee Cake – Crumb Topping. We had a little chat and I gave her several compliments. The next day, before we left, she stopped by with the recipe. I was so appreciative; this must have been a great effort for her and was so thoughtful.
That’s what it used to be like, people! How recipes tried and true were passed along, to friends, neighbors and down the generations. The generous ladies gave freely, now and then someone, still wanting to be known as the “best” left out an ingredient or special touch, and the stingy – well, we all know about them, now, don’t we?
About Classic Coffee Cake – Crumb Topping:
Most of all my old recipe cards are well worn and in the upper corner, the name of the person that passed me the recipe. It brings back so many memories. You’ll often see my recipes credited, too, even if I change them up a bit.
I made that coffee cake forever and it was truly the best ever (until now) and when my daughter asked for my recipe, I couldn’t find it. I felt like I’d lost a treasure. And so began my hunt. Recipe after recipe pulled off the internet (all wastes and failures) and searches through my books hoping the paper was tucked inside. Since my daughter’s initial request, I’ve tried at least a dozen, probably more, and that was over a year ago! In the meantime, my daughter was having the same results!
Funny thing was, I had a very similar recipe all along. I just didn’t realize it. This coffee cake was in the April 2010 Bon Appetit, called New York Style Crumb Cake. Bon Appetit featured the same New York-Style Crumb Cake again this April and I almost didn’t give it a glance – their stylized photo makes it nearly unrecognizable as a classic coffee cake. This coffee cake is more decadent than my original, not for the faint of heart! The cake is moist and delicious, the crumb is a little crispy, chewy. I love it and I hope my daughter and grandbabies will, too.
Making Classic Coffee Cake – Crumb Topping:
I adapted the rather strange mixing method in the original Bon Appetit Version and made a minor change in the amount of sour cream (or yogurt works, too.) I think I have better results with alternating dry and wet ingredients like I do for almost every cake or coffee cake.
Every once in a while this cake will kind of invert itself a bit – some of the crumbs will sink and make kind of a layer in the center. Honestly, it’s delish that way but not an expected result. I found out paying attention to a few details, one of them kind of a departure fixes this.
- Make sure butter is at right temperature: It should bend but not break, all while holding it’s shape.
- Use COLD sour cream or yogurt and cold eggs. This is a departure to normal methods.
- Put the topping on the outside edges of the Classic Coffee Cake – Crumb Topping first, and only then put on the center.
- Do NOT press down on the topping.
- Pop it right into a fully preheated oven immediately.
There is a lot of crumb on this cake. Follow the mixing directions correctly for it, then squeeze it together gently, trying not to leave marks from your fingers, and place the crumbs on top. Take your time. This does take a good while to do. The payoff is exquisite coffee cake with a gorgeous, well-behaved topping that sticks to the cake.
Saving Money on Classic Coffee Cake – Crumb Topping:
My daughter wanted to replace the Starbuck’s version they’d tried and loved. I can absolutely say that Classic Coffee Cake – Crumb Topping is SO MUCH BETTER than Starbucks any day of the week, although it was meant to be, it’s not really a “clone” or a “copycat” Starbucks Coffee Cake. This is so way beyond Starbucks that it’s like comparing the sun to a flashlight. At the time I made this, I hadn’t even had a piece of Starbucks Coffee Cake, but when I remedied that I was shocked at the small, little flat loaf about 1/2″ high with just a sprinkle on the top, dry and really not good. It looked nothing like the pic on their link!
Hopefully, my daughter will like this Classic Coffee Cake – Crumb topping just as much if not more. I had a little trouble finding a current price for Starbucks – does anyone know how much a slice of coffee cake costs there? I forgot to note the price during my sampling. And actually, maybe next time around I will try to make a not so good coffee cake now that I know what Starbucks is like that is more conservative and the kind of thing you can toss to the littles in the back seat and eat while driving. We’ll see.
With all the butter and sour cream, this is not a dirt cheap recipe to make, but it’s not too expensive if you have the basic ingredients on hand. Butter is the biggie, here, $2.79 a package, $2.35 for the recipe. Brown sugar is about $2.50 a bag, but I buy on sale with coupons and figure 20 cents a cup. (I sometimes make my own Homemade Brown Sugar but have not tried it with this recipe.) White sugar at Aldi runs 12 cents a cup, 24 cents. Eggs at $1.39 a dozen (Aldi) 23 cents. Sour cream, about 12 ounces, $1.89. Flour (Aldi) 9 cents a cup at $1.55 a bag, 45 cents. Other ingredients, nominal, the total cost is about $5.40, or 45 cents apiece. So it’s SO much better than Starbucks and a fraction of the cost. Boom.
Classic Coffee Cake – Crumb Topping
This is the best Classic Coffee Cake, ever. ‘Nuff said.
- Total Time: 1 1/2 hours
- Yield: 12 servings
1 cup (packed) brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled to warm
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups sour cream or thick Greek yogurt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Mix both sugars, cinnamon, and salt in medium bowl. Add warm melted butter and stir to blend. Add flour and toss with fork until moist clumps form (topping mixture will look slightly wet). Set aside.
Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 350°F. Butter 13x9x2-inch glass baking dish.
Add flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt into medium bowl and whisk to blend.
Using electric mixer, beat room-temperature butter in large bowl until smooth. Add sugar and beat until light and fluffy, stopping now and then to scrape down sides of bowl.
Add eggs 1 at a time, beating until well blended after each addition. Add 1/3rd of the sour cream and vanilla extract and beat just until blended. Add 1/3 of the flour mixture and beat until just incorporated, stop and scrape bowl down.
Continue to add in additions, sour cream, then flour (twice more of each, for a total of three additions each) until mixture is blended, beating each time just until incorporated and scraping bowl down after each addition is finished blending.
Transfer cake batter to prepared baking dish; this will be very thick. Spread batter evenly with rubber spatula or offset spatula; you may need to use clean hands.
Squeeze small handfuls of topping together to form small clumps. Drop topping clumps evenly over cake batter, covering completely (topping will be thick).
Bake cake until tester inserted into center comes with only a little crumb attached (it’s easiest to test in an area with fewer crumbs, towards the center) and topping is golden brown and slightly crisp, about 40 to 45 minutes. Cool cake in dish on rack at least 30 minutes.
May be made 1 or 2 days ahead. Cool completely. Cover and let stand at room temperature.
Cut cake into squares and serve slightly warm or at room temperature.
I have made this with yogurt instead of sour cream; it just depends what you have on hand, either works well.