New York Style Crumb Cake

This past weekend, our school trusted that we med students could handle a very rare, treasured 3-day weekend.

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Instead of my usual pinterest-filled, sleep-until-you-drag-me-out-of-bed, clean-all-the-things post-test weekend…I hopped on a sunrise plane to New Orleans to visit my dad.

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New Orleans is up there.  Paris, Switz, the Florida gulf coast, and New Orleans top the favorite places and home-away-from-home lists.

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Out of proximity, I find myself in New Orleans more often than any of the other places, and every trip manages to fit in the perfect balance of old favorites and new finds.
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We wound our way through the tomb-filled cemeteries that are a mix of crumbling bricks and shiny pristine white.  We spent an afternoon at the races, and my dad even won some moneys!

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We returned to the National WWII museum for the umpteenth time and still learned new things, and we ate a Passover-friendly dinner at John Besh’s Domenica. (Passover dinner at a restaurant in New Orleans is not something I thought I would ever see…)

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We raided Gambino’s bakery for doberge squares that I brought back to my mom.

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I ran through green, cool City Park, where trees are so ancient and so eager to give you shade, their branches grow towards the ground.

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We jazz-brunched at Buffa’s on Esplanade on Easter Sunday, then roamed the Quarter in search of Easter parades (!) and beignets.

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Right before the airport, I enjoyed one of my favorite, most low-maintenance meals: a potato, onion, & cheese omelette at Camellia Grill.

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It was a fantastic trip, and I can’t wait until my next one.  I was keeping Passover for the 1st 2 days (clearly gave in to beignets on Sunday), so I missed out on Parkway poboy’s and Central Grocery muffalettas…and I will hunt these down with a vengeance next trip.

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In the mean time, there is crumb cake.  Crumb cake has nothing to do with New Orleans, except they are both 100% delicious.

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New York Style Crumb Cake

Makes one 9×9 or 8×8 inch square cake

Ingredients:
For crumb topping
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup light brown sugar, packed
3/4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup (= 1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1 1/2 + 1 TBS unbleached all-purpose flour

For cake1 cup + 2 TBS unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
6 TBS (= 3/4 stick) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces and softened
1 large egg + 1 egg yolk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup buttermilk (could probably also use sour cream or plain yogurt)

Directions:
1. Grease baking dish.  Cut strip of parchment paper to fit into pan with paper overhanging the edges on 2 sides.  Preheat oven to 325F with rack in upper-middle position.
2. Make topping – Whisk together dry ingredients in a medium bowl, then stir in melted butter until the mixture resembles crumbly cookie dough.  Set aside.
3. Make cake – In large bowl or bowl of a stand mixer, mix together the flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt.  Add butter 1 piece at a time with mixer on low speed, mixing until mixture looks like small crumbs, about 2 minutes.  Beat in the egg, egg yolk, vanilla, and butter milk on medium high speed until pale and fluffy, about 1 minute.
4. Pour batter into pan and smooth the top with a rubber spatula.  Breaking the crumb topping into large pea-sized pieces as you go, sprinkle the topping evenly over the batter.  It’s easiest to start with the topping at the edges and work towards the center.
5. Bake for 32-38 minutes, until a thin knife or wooden skewer in the middle of the cake comes out clean or with a few moist crumbs.  Let cake cool completely in the pan on a wire rack.  Lift out of the pan by the parchment overhang to easily slice the cake.  Cake will keep, wrapped tight at room temperature, for 3 days.

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Recipe adapted from Cook’s Illustrated and Smells Like Home

Thanks for reading, happy baking!

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