Crumb Buns or Best Streusel Coffeecake Ever!

I just had to share this with you (and the future me, in case I forget).20170127_164803163_ios

It is only just the best coffeecake I can recall ever eating! It’s a yeasted dough, soft,  moist with incredible crumbles of streusel on top.

I just bought, on a whim, a copy of the newest “Cooks Country” magazine. We were browsing the shelves at Barnes and Noble on my dear hubby’s birthday, before going out to dinner. Bookstore exploring is a long standing tradition, going back to our dating years, in the age of the dinosaur (or the age of the used bookstores on every corner).

Warning, if you just want this fabulous recipe, either go out and get the Cooks
Country magazine for Feb/March 2017 or see below. If you are not in a hurry, then…

If I might digress a minute, hubby tells longingly of the days in his youth when he would hop on a bus going to downtown San Diego with nothing but a few coins in his worn jeans pockets, wearing a tired flannel shirt, old sneakers and his long hippy length hair. No water bottles, no cell phones, no food. Just an escape from an unhappy home to go on safari into the dark recesses of Wahrenbrocks, Fifth St books or Joe Herwig booksellers. We still have some of the rare or special finds he had squirreled away back then, hiding them behind other books until he could scrape up a couple of dollars to go back and buy them. He’d spend just about every weekend there.

I remember when he and I were in high school together, I took my first public bus ride to downtown San Diego with him so he could share those wonderful Aladdin’s caves with me. I remember a bit of the bookstores, but have more memories of the old Horton Plaza, where the buses stopped and which scared the bejesus out of me! A big fountain was in the center and so, so many people!  I had never actually seen an X-rated theater in real life. Here I was surrounded by them. Sailors and hookers and students and just folks, mingling, catching buses, sharing booze and joints and laughter. This cringing wallflower hung on tight to the back of his shirt so he wouldn’t lose me, or I him. I might never find my way home! I might have to stay there forever, earning my keep in a dark cavernous bookstore.

Meh, I can think of worse ways to end up.

(At this point I was going to add a YouTube link to an old bluegrass type song about Horton Plaza, but they never heard of it! So, sorry ’bout that. “Horton Plaza has a toe-hold on my heart…I grow sad-get mad-go bad when we’re apart…hobos guzzlin’ their Red Mountain, pigeons nuzzlin’ by the fountain, something-something beyond countin’ in my lovely little park”. oh well.)

Where was I? Oh yes, fabulous coffeecake.

Take it from a streusel queen, this cake is fabulous! I always thought yeasted dough for a cake would be too tough. But I was so wrong.

Now mind, the recipe says you need cake flour for the streusel. Cake flour ladies and gents! You can use all purpose for the cake itself, but the streusel needs cake flour to give it that crumbly soft texture. I went to the store to get some and found them out. I was so disappointed. Then I went home and found some in a large glass jar in my pantry. I should have known. I must have 8-10 different kinds of flour around the pantry and freezer. Sheesh.

Katie Leaird of Cooks Country calls them “New Jersey Crumb Buns”, but I’ll call them plain crumb buns, because I’m lazy.

And thank you to Ms. Leaird and all the staff at Cooks Country!

So here you go:

INGREDIENTS:

Cake

  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour (11 1/4 oz)
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 pkg yeast or 2 1/4 tsp
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 6 tbsp butter, soft and cut into 6 pieces.
  • 1/4 cup of sour cream-TOTALLY MY OWN IDEA, so its optional. If you use it, and I did to add moistness, you will have to add some flour to compensate for the extra liquid. More on that later.

Topping

  • 18 Tbsp (2 1/4 sticks, which is 2 cubes plus the rest of the cube used above) melted
  • 3/4 cup white sugar (5 1/4 oz)
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar (5 1/4 oz)
  • 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 4 cups cake flour (yes, it’s a lot)
  • powdered sugar to decorate

for the cake:

  1. grease a 9 x 13 cake pan. Preheat the oven now (or soon) to 350 degrees. Oddly enough, although this dough is yeasted, it does not raise twice, like you would for bread. Just once in the pan. So this is kind of quick, relatively speaking.
  2. In a standing mixer or with your big bulging arms, (although a mixer is recommended) mix together the flour, milk, sugar, egg, yeast, salt and, if using, sour cream. Mix well, kneading with a dough hook for about 2 minutes until it comes together. If using sour cream, add about 1/4-1/3 cup more flour
  3. Now, with the mixer running, add in the softened butter, 1 piece at a time until its incorporated before adding the next. Increase the speed of the mixer (or your arms?) now and continue to knead for about 5-6 minutes. it will not leave sides of bowl, or shouldn’t. The dough will form “stretchy, web like strands”. This dough is soft and sticky. A little more than tacky, but not pourable.
  4. Using a greased spatula, or I used a dough scraper, transfer the dough to the prepared dish. Pat it evenly into the dish with your floured hands. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and let rise for about 1 hour. I actually let it rise almost 1 1/2 hours. It will just puff a bit, not really double in size. In fact, I ended up watching tv with the silly thing in my lap, (after the streusel part) figuring it was so cold in the house, my body heat might help warm up. Of course by then, the oven was preheating anyway.

Now the topping:

  1. Melt the butter, if you haven’t already done so.
  2. Mix together the brown and white sugars, salt, cinnamon and finally, the butter. Mix and Mix. With a wooden spoon or a rubber spatula, which ever you like. It will not want to absorb the butter all that fast, but it will happen. Now add the cake flour and continue to mix until it is a thick, cohesive dough.
  3. Give it 10 minutes for the liquids to absorb the flour. Feel it with your fingers. I thought it was still a bit too wet, so I added a bit more flour. Just a spoonful. (A Loving Spoonful). That seemed to do the trick.
  4. After the dough has been given time to puff, start adding bits of crumbled topping, breaking it into little blobs of about 1/2″ or so. Cover all the dough, then take the leftover topping and continue to cover the dough some more. It seems like too much, but it’s not. Use it all up.
  5. Once it’s all covered in steusel topping and the cake has had time to puff, at least 1 hour, then its time to put into the preheated oven.
  6. Bake until the crumbs are golden brown and the cake is about 215 degrees with your instant read thermometer. I was thrilled when she actually gave me a temperature for a cake! That’s one of my biggest cake issues, when-is-it-done? Anyway, this will take 30-35 minutes. Take out and place on a wire rack to cool completely. Dust with powered sugar, cut and enjoy.
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I had to send most of it away with my son to work. I just did not trust myself.

I tell you, I have made many cakes and sometimes I will press on it gently, it will seem done, then it will sink when it cools off. Especially pound cakes, my nemesis! I will test with a cake tester, press gently, give it an extra 5 minutes and still-pfffttt! It sinks as it cools. With pound cakes, I’d say 50% of the time. Its pathetic.

Then there is the other extreme, what if you leave it in too long and it gets dry? I love that we don’t have to worry about this one-215 degrees.

Let’s face it, coffeecakes are the easy workhorses of the cake world. Quick to come together (usually, although this one is a little longer), delicious and feeds a crowd. Perfect for teas and get togthers and pot lucks.

Ok, go for it! Have fun and enjoy it with some tea in a pretty china cup!

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