If you lived closer, I would sit you down at the kitchen table and cut you a hunk of this New York-style crumb cake. Of course, we'd have to turn the clock back 24 hours because the thing is all gone. It's gone because the members of my family ate it, alternately, for breakfast and dessert over the course of three days. It's gone because my friend Lisa did me a favor, and I handed her a sizable square in return. And it's gone because as I was shooting this photo in my open garage, the postman came by and handed me my mail, and what am I going to do at that point, NOT hand him a piece of cake? I mean, is there any scenario where your postman would happen upon you photographing a cake and you'd just say, "Thanks for the mail. And even though you walk around all winter long and probably have blisters and bunions and all manner of teeny, tiny paper cuts, I think I'll take this cake back inside and shove it down my own greedy throat"?
No, in my world, there is no scenario in which that would happen.
Okay, enough about the cake, almost. I have (applause, confetti, parade) secured from Stewart, Tabori & Chang, the very generous publisher of Baked Explorations by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito, a copy of this book for one very fortunate reader. The book, which I wrote about recently, is making all kinds of Top 10 lists this season, including those on Amazon.com, The Huffington Post, The Washington Post, and more. And for me not to request an extra copy for one of you would have been wrong, as wrong, if not wronger (new word) than not giving my postman the very last piece of cake.
Here's the contest: leave a comment telling me who you would give your last piece of crumb cake to. That's it. It can be a person, living or dead. It can be an historical figure or someone you knew, or know, personally. It can be a member of the plant or animal kingdom. It can be an amoeba. The choice is yours. Be creative, have fun, and if you make me cry, from laughter or melancholy, I might award you extra points. You might also get an extra point if you tell me who you would NOT give the last piece of crumb cake to, so long as you don't name names, slander, libel, or use profanity (you know who you are). The contest will end without warning or notice. I will simply post the end of the competition here.
Oh! And look! I got permission to share the crumb cake recipe, too.
I do, it seems, like you all very much.
Recipe for New York-Style Crumb Cake
Excerpted, with permission of the publisher, from Baked Explorations: Classic American Desserts Reinvented by Matt Lewis & Renato Poliafito (Stewart, Tabori & Chang, 2010)
For the Crumb Topping
1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 tablespoons cinnamon
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and warm
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
For the Cake
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
12 tablespoons (1-1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
1-1/2 cups granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1-1/4 cups sour cream
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and position the rack in the center. Butter the sides and bottom of a glass 9 x 13-inch pan. You can use a metal pan (*I did), but the edges of the cake may turn crispy (although that is not traditional, it is not an altogether bad thing).
Make the Crumb Topping
In a medium bowl, stir together both sugars, the salt, and cinnamon. Add the melted butter and whisk until combined. Fold in the flour until it is absorbed and set the mixture aside.
Make the Cake
Sift flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into medium bowl. Set aside.
In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter until it is completely smooth and ribbonlike. Scrape down the bowl and add the sugar. Beat the mixture until it starts to look fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat until incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix again for 30 seconds. Add the sour cream and vanilla and beat just until incorporated. Add the dry ingredients in three parts, scraping down the bowl before each addition, beating only until it is just incorporated.
Assemble the cake
Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Use your hands to scoop up a handful of the topping and make a fist. The topping should hold together. Break off in chunks and drop them over the cake. Repeat to use all the topping. Remember, the topping layer will look outrageously thick.
Bake the cake for 45 to 55 minutes or until tester inserted in the middle comes out clean. Rotate the pan two times during the baking process. Cool the entire pan on a wire rack for about 30 minutes before serving.
The cake will last 3 days, tightly covered, at room temperature.