What in the world is a crumb cake?

EVELYN CAIRNS

What in the world is a crumb cake, I wondered, when I came across a recipe for Blueberry Crumb Cake. I immediately visited Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia that has the answer to everything, and learned that crumb cake is a German specialty called  Streuselkuchen, often served for breakfast. Well known in New York and other eastern states, it has a streusel topping comprising  one-half to three-fourths of the cake and is often made with apples or other berries. Because the batter is very thick, I found it’s best to use a stand mixer to mix it. With Michigan blueberries now in season, it would be unthinkable to make it with any other fruit. 

And speaking of blueberries, you  may want to try the recipe for  Blueberry Bran Muffins, my newest favorite muffin. Orange juice and orange rind add flavor to another delicious breakfast treat.

BLUEBERRY CRUMB CAKE

Streusel topping: 

1 cup all-purpose flour

½ cup packed light brown sugar

¼ teaspoon salt 

½ cup (1 stick ) cold unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons

In a medium bowl, mix the flour, sugar and salt. Using your fingers, work in the butter until large, moist crumbs form. (Make sure the crumbs are large so they will form a crisp topping as the cake bakes instead of melting into the batter. Chill the streusel until ready to use.
Batter:

1½ cups all-purpose flour, plus   1 teaspoon for blueberries

1½ teaspoons baking powder

½ teaspoon baking soda

¼ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon allspice

4 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature (see note)

¾ cup sugar

1 large egg

¼ cup buttermilk

1½ cups blueberries, picked over, rinsed and patted dry

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour, or spray with baking spray, a 9-inch square baking pan. In a medium bowl, whisk together the 1½ cups flour, baking powder,  baking soda, salt and allspice; set aside.  In another bowl, cream the butter and sugar, preferably with an electric stand mixer,  until light and fluffy.  Add the egg and beat until combined.

Add the flour mixture and buttermilk in alternating batches, beginning and ending with the flour. Beat until just combined (the batter will be very stiff). In a small bowl, toss the blueberries  with the remaining teaspoon flour. Fold the berries into the batter and pour into the prepared pan. Sprinkle evenly with the streusel topping, covering the batter completely (do not press in). Bake until     golden brown and a toothpick  inserted into the center comes out clean,  45 to 50 minutes. Let cool completely before cutting.

(Note: To quickly soften butter if necessary, grate it using the large holes of a box grater or cut the butter into 1/4-inch slices.)

BLUEBERRY BRAN MUFFINS

1½ cups all-purpose flour   

2½ teaspoons baking powder

¼ teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1½ cups All-Bran cereal

¾ cup 2% milk 

½ cup orange juice

2 large eggs

¼ cup vegetable oil

¾ cup packed brown sugar

1 cup fresh (or frozen,  unthawed) blueberries

1 tablespoon grated orange rind, if desired.

Set oven at 375 degrees. In a medium-sized bowl,  mix together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside. In a large bowl, stir together cereal, milk and orange juice. Let stand for 5 minutes, or until cereal softens.  Meanwhile, grate orange rind, if using,  and  lightly grease or  spray 12 to 18 muffin cups, depending on size, or line with paper muffin cups. 

Add eggs, oil and brown sugar to cereal mixture, combining well. (I used an electric mixer for about 15 seconds.) Add flour mixture, stirring  until just combined. Fold in blueberries and orange rind. Spoon into muffin cups, filling about ¾ full. Bake  20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown and a toothpick comes out clean, avoiding blueberries. 

HAPPY BAKING!

(Contact me at Evycairns@aol.com.)   

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