There's been many a night where I have found myself typing away at my computer writing a 10-page paper the night before it was due in Butler library (thank you, Contemporary Civilizations). I've never been very good at planning ahead, especially when it comes to writing papers. I usually spend more time than necessary thinking of what to write before I look at the time and realize that it's already midnight, I have class at 9, and I've only written 2 out of 10 pages. Or, in more recent situations, I've looked at the time and realize that it's already 3 am, and I've somehow managed to only complete 1 out of the 3 renderings I had been meaning to make progress towards finishing. Even more recent, aka, right now, as I sit typing this blog post, I've looked at the time, seen that it's 4 am, and have decided that I better get on with writing that blog post that I had been meaning to publish the day before. This is my life, unfortunately. I sometimes get easily distracted, and usually spend way too much time over-thinking things and being indecisive to be as productive as I'd like to be. But anyway. I had a point to make, I promise.
Ok, so it's not really too much of a point, but my initial reason for bringing up my poor procrastination habits in Butler is actually relevant, and not because it is an analogous situation to the one taking place right now, as I write this post at 4 am on Monday morning, when most normal people are sleeping in their beds (thank goodness my first class isn't until 1 pm!). You see, Butler, and I guess most of the cafes on Columbia's campus have this one very delicious looking snack that I've always wanted to get: crumb cake. Now, I know that crumb cake isn't really anything over-the-top, or something to obsess over, but there's just something about those crumb cakes that have been drizzled with chocolate in the glass displays at the Butler cafe that makes me want one SO badly every time I see one. It's kind of ridiculous. I've managed to use all the self control I have to avoid getting a piece in these past couple of years, which is a pretty amazing feat, considering that the majority of the time I walk into the Butler cafe it's 2 am and it's about to close and I'm sleepy and am getting my last coffee that will hopefully hold me over until morning. There's always a piece of coffee cake when I go to the cafe, and it always tempts me. It's like it knows that I'm in a vulnerable state of existence or something.
In order to cure this craving for Butler-cafe crumb cake, I decided to make my own. It had to be the BEST crumb cake. Fortunately, my sister came to the rescue, and knew exactly which recipe I should use. She made this exact crumb cake for a bake sale at her school a few weeks earlier, and said the results were fantastic, fantastic enough that even my dad loved it. I had to check for myself, and I honestly couldn't believe how delicious this crumb cake actually was. It was perfectly soft and smooth, and while the cake part itself was pretty awesome, it was the crumbs that truly made the cake (obviously). These crumbs were the best. They were huge, and perfectly sweetened. Whether you're a cake person or a crumb topping person, this cake has got you covered.
One thing you'll notice when preparing this crumb cake that might catch you off guard (it definitely surprised me, at least), is the ratio of cake batter there is to crumb topping mixture. When I was making it, I couldn't believe that the level of the crumb topping in the baking dish was thicker than that of the actual cake itself. Was I really making a cake that had more crumbs than cake? Part of me thought that was weird, and the other part of me thought that was awesome, because, after all, the crumbs on a coffee cake are the best part. Now, this coffee cake isn't covered with a drizzle of chocolate like those in Butler, but that was alright with me. I thought this crumb cake had the perfect amount of sweetness, as the cake was mild, while the crumbs brought a lovely buttery-sweetness that paired nicely with the cake. The crumb cake comes together in just a few simple steps, and doesn't require an electric mixer; a spatula and some mixing bowls will do just fine. As the cake bakes, all kinds of delicious smells will begin to come out of your oven, and once you take the cake out to let it cool before dusting powdered sugar all over it, you'll have to use some serious willpower to prevent yourself from just cutting it into squares and eating it right away. Trust me, this crumb cake will be worth the wait! Enjoy!
The Best NY Crumb Cake Ever
recipe from Baked Bree
For the Cake
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg, at room temperature
1/2 cup milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
For the Crumb Topping
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, melted and cooled
confectioner's sugar, for dusting
Begin by preheating the oven to 325 degrees F, and position a rack in the middle of the oven. Spray a 9x13 baking spray.
In a bowl, whisk together the 1 1/2 cups of flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Set aside. In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg, milk, oil, and vanilla.
Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, mixing just until the batter comes together. Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan, and set aside.
To prepare the crumb topping, in a bowl, combine the 2 1/2 cups of flour with the brown sugar, and cinnamon. Add the melted butter to the flour mixture, and stir the mixture together until large crumbs form. Sprinkle the crumbs evenly over the prepared cake batter.
Bake the cake until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Rotate the pan at least once during the baking time. Remove the cake from the oven, and allow it to cool completely before dusting the cake with powdered sugar, and cutting it into squares. Enjoy!
Makes 1 9x13-inch cake