A few months ago, I attended a friend's neighborhood book club and met a woman, Klare, who was looking for someone new to join the baking club she was a member of. A Baking Club. I mean, is there ever a more perfect group for me to join? I immediately gave her my contact information and not long after, received an "initiation" email inviting me "to prepare [my] top five recipes for [them] to determine if [I] meet [their] standards" and that I should "select recipes with the idea to 'wow' and 'impress' [them] but also to demonstrate [my] breadth of talent, skill and artisanship." Of course, this was all in jest- but I was definitely ready and willing to meet their demands!
So last month, I attended my first Baking Club meeting. The theme was crumb cake and we all found different recipes that represented the theme. It was so much fun talking about and (more importantly) eating crumb cake and to see the nuances of the different recipes. Some were butter based, others shortening based. Some called for cake flour; others all-purpose. Some had sour cream added for flavor and some had fruit added. What they all had in common was that they were OYUMG delicious!!
Read on for recipes and photos from each member!
LIBBY: Sour Cream Coffee Cake
This recipe was originally given to me by an old boss of mine. It is a really easy and super yummy coffee cake - the cake batter alone is a treat in and of itself. (Seriously, I could just keep licking the spatula until there was no batter left!). It also features a delicate brown sugar and toasted pecan topping that adds just the right amount of crunch and nuttiness. I deviated slightly from the theme of crumb cake for this coffee cake, as I had just made the crumb cake Tonya made for our meeting the week prior. But it was fun to compare and contrast our baking experiences and the results from us making the same recipe.
- 2 sticks butter, melted
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 1 cup sour cream
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1 1/2 cup flour
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 cup pecans, toasted & chopped
- 2 Tbsp dark brown sugar
- 2 tsp ground cinnamon
- Combine melted butter, sugar, eggs, sour cream and vanilla in a large bowl; mix well.
- Stir dry ingredients into butter/sugar mixture until just combined.
- In a separate bowl, combine pecans, sugar and cinnamon and toss to mix well.
- Pour half of batter into a lightly greased 9x13 pan. Sprinkle half of nut mixture. Cover with remaining batter and sprinkle with remaining nut mixture. (Optional: Add 1-1 1/2 cups tart berries/fruit before adding the remaining batter and nut mixture.)
- Bake until golden on top and firm, about 30 minutes. Do not overbake. Cool on a rack for 10 minutes. Serve warm.
This cake is butter based with sour cream and uses cake flour. The crumb called for cinnamon as well as ginger. The original recipe also called for a rhubarb filling - but Karen opted for some fresh blueberries instead. I think it was a winning substitution! The cake was moist and tender and was balanced by a hefty amount of crumb on top.
This is another butter based cake but also includes buttermilk. Klare made a slight modification and added cinnamon to the batter as well as to the crumb. The results were a dark, caramelized-like crumb topping - with a deep, browned-buttery flavor.
This is the recipe that both Tonya and I had made - so it was fun to talk about the process and results for the same recipe. This recipe makes for a really thick cake and crumb. It also differs from the other recipes in that the sponge cake is oil based and the crumb is shortening based. Not a stick of butter to be found in this recipe. And for my taste, it was noticeable. I would have preferred, particularly in the cake, to have a butter base, as it would have added a much deeper level of flavor. But overall, I did like the balance of cake to crumb and how tall the cake itself is (almost 3 inches high!).
Gina's recipe, similar to Klare's, calls for butter and buttermilk in the batter. The cake in this recipe was very tender and the perfect compliment to the crunchy, buttery crumb topping. Definitely a classic crumb cake - and one that I look forward to making in the future.