April 15, 2013

crumb coffee cake

In my opinion there is a giant misunderstanding about pregnancy cravings. I went into pregnancy with the assumption that I should stack jars of pickles next to my prenatal vitamins and cartons of ice cream next to the frozen spinach. As it turns out I didn't want pickles, ice cream, or spinach, and prenatal vitamins made me gag. So, yes, I'm going to go ahead and say, that for me, it was much more about things I didn't want to eat than the things I did, especially during the first few months. 

If it was a color of the rainbow I didn't want to eat it. If it was once alive - four legs, two legs, fins - I didn't want to eat it. If it grew in the ground or up in a tree I didn't want to eat it, unless of course you count the tomatoes that went into the thin layer of sauce between the doughy crust and gooey cheese of my twice weekly pizza. Basically if it wasn't white or a cracker I didn't want to eat it. 

My diet was bleak and bland. I hate to admit that. I was a healthy eater before so I figured I'd be a healthy eater during. Silly me. I ate what I could, when I could. For the first three months or so I subsisted on toast, oatmeal, cereal, pizza and pasta. I had become a pickier version of my already very picky four year old self.

Maybe pregnancy is like old age, where we revert back to a childlike state (the last time I saw my great grandmother she was eating Coco Puffs), because of the few things I could imagine stomaching - all white foods of course - two where childhood favorites; bagels and Entenmann's crumb coffee cake. I still love bagels, so that wasn't surprising, but Entenmann's coffee cake? 
You definitely can't get Entenmann's coffee cake here in Zurich. And I definitely wasn't going to rush to the grocery store and into the kitchen to make it. So I did without. I did without Bagels too, because although you can find the odd bagel around town, they just aren't that good. 

Even though I'm back to eating all colors of the rainbow, I knew one of my first just-for-fun cooking projects would be to try and replicate Entenmann's crumb cake in my own kitchen. Thankfully Cooks Illustrated tackled the recipe a few years ago with promising results of thick buttery crumbs floating on soft yellow cake. This is not health food, I know, but I felt it was my duty as a pregnant woman to satisfy one of the only cravings I've had. And satisfy the craving it did. I can't say it tastes like the original, because it's been so long since I've had the original that I honestly can't remember what it tastes like. But if you are craving a fluffy cake covered in a dense crumb layer then this will definitely do it for you. 
Entenmanns' New York Style Crumb Cake

*the key ingredient in this cake is cake flour. If you try and substitute all purpose flour your cake will come out dense and your crumb dry. If you don't want to buy cake flour or can't find it (we don't have it here in Zurich) then for every 1 cup of cake flour substitute 3/4 cup sifted all purpose + 2 Tbsp corn starch (a little mental math exercise). Sift the flour-corn starch mixture together at least 5 times to mix it and aerate it. 

crumb toppping
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup dark brown sugar
3/4 tsp cinnamon 
1/8 tsp table salt
1 stick butter, melted but still warm
1 3/4 cup cake flour (7 oz) *

1 1/4 cup cake flour (5 oz) *
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
6 Tbsp butter, cut into pieces, soft, but still cool
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup buttermilk

Make the topping by combining the sugars, salt, cinnamon and melted butter in a bowl. Stir in the flour and continue stirring until you have a thick crumb mixture. Set aside, and let cool to room temperature for at least 10-15 minutes

Preheat the oven to 325ºF. Cut a piece of parchment paper to line the bottom and sides of an 8x8 baking dish (I used a 9x7). Butter the dish and then put the parchment paper in. 

In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, mix flour, salt, sugar, baking soda and salt on low speed until combined. With the mixer still on low add in the chunks of butter one at a time and mix until there are no large pieces and the mixture resembles a coarse crumb. Add egg, egg yolk, vanilla and buttermilk and beat on medium high speed until light and fluffy, about a minute or two. 

Scrap the batter in your baking dish and top with an even layer of the crumb mixture. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until a knife/wooden skewer comes out clean. Let it cool on a wire wrack for 30 minutes. Eat and enjoy! 

Not only did I take a break from cooking and blogging, but I also took a break from reading some of my favorite blogs. After trying to catch up on the months of posts that I missed I now have a nice looking list of things to make. Here it is in case you need some inspiration.

Baked oatmeal as recommended by Ali and Amy

Speaking of Ali and Amy, I want to make Ali's Lamp Chops  and Amy's Chicago Deep Dish Pizza

This Spinach salad that I've been eyeing in the Jerusalem cookbook

Darcy's roasted vegetable salad with honey dressing sounds amazing

The tomato and sourdough soup, also from Jerusalem, that Jess made sounds absolutely delicious.

These onion and potato pierogis, and I should probably also get the cookbook

I hope everyone had a nice weekend. It was sunny and beautiful here, which after a long, very grey winter was amazing. It looks like today is going to be even nicer. Time to head outside and take advantage because as the Swiss like to tell you, just because it's warm today, doesn't mean it won't snow tomorrow.


  1. First, there is a little bagel shop in Bern, http://www.tingel-kringel.ch/ If you happen to be in Bern one day, you might want to have lunch there? And tell me what you think of their bagels? I don't really know how a good bagel should taste but I like theirs.
    And then the weather, it's been a very grey winter, and I don't think this is normal even here. I am so happy about the warm days we seem to get now, and I really don't want to imagine it getting cold again. (Oh, and please tell me that was the first winter here in Switzerland that was as grey. I want to think it has been better the last few years, but then I don't know if this is just a part of my "Verdrängungs" technique. (I really don't want this to be normal)

    1. that bagel shop looks promising, I might have to make a trip to Bern just to try it. I *really* hope spring is here to stay. They just blew up the Böögg in Zurich today and it took a long time so I'm worried that winter will continue and summer will be short. I think most people will tell you that this past winter was the worst in a loooong time.

    2. Good Morning from a reader in Zurich - I have read several places that it is the grayist, dreariest winter in a very long time - and longtime Swiss folks are saying this!

      Here's hoping for a lovely, satisfying summer, no matter what happened yesterday with the Boogg !

      Your cake looks lovely, Talley. Reminds me of my days in New Jersey.

  2. Knock on wood, I've had the opposite problem. I've turned into a human disposal since becoming pregnant. However, I've been craving and making things from my youth. Things I haven't made or thought of in years. It's so weird how this stuff comes out. Twice baked potatoes, pears and cheese, mom's macaroni, casseroles and the list goes on. I've have noticed my meals looking alot more white/tan in color too. So glad spring is here. No excuse for me not to eat fresh veggies. Although I'm still very picky too. Almost too picky to blog about food :) Heading to the New Haven farmers market this weekend. Makes me think of you!

    1. It's amazing to me how differently everyone handles pregnancy. Interesting though that you find yourself making comfort foods from your childhood. I wonder what it is. Maybe we just feel like we need a little extra nurturing as we create an entire human from scratch :) Oh the New Haven farmer's market, such a great little market. If I was still in New Haven I'd definitely being eating the burrito cart out of burritos and the Caseus cheese truck out of grilled cheese - my bump would probably be twice as big!

  3. This looks delicious and I hope it satisfies your cravings. I ate your muesli for breakfast this morning - SO SO good. I couldn't find puffed quinoa, but added puffed millet. I now am looking forward to eating breakfast again soon (perhaps for dinner?).

    1. So glad you liked the muesli! Isn't it just perfectly crunchy and tasty? mmmm. I ran out. I'm going to need to make more asap. I just tried a bircher muesli (uncooked oats and fruit soaked in yogurt overnight) so I'll see how that goes tomorrow morning, and if it's not good, I'm jumping back on the toasted muesli bandwagon.

  4. I'm glad that you've regained your appetite, Talley. But for something that isn't really any one of the colours of the rainbow, this cake looks pretty good to me.

    I hope you find a chance to make the pierogis soon. They really are special.

    1. I think it's always good to balance bright and bold with a little bit of beige - as in there's always an excuse for a scone, piece of coffee cake and banana bread!

      I'm definitely going to try the pierogis soon - perhaps the next rainy day.

  5. Haha, I was just talking to my boss at work today, who is 3 months pregnant. Like you, she was saying how she hasn't craved anything, only been turned off from things. And how the only thing she really felt like eating was ice cream and milkshakes. Have to admit, I was really jealous of her when she said that... it is, after all, your one duty as a pregnant woman to follow your cravings! ;)

    And I've wanted to make this coffee cake for awhile -- it looks like my type of coffee cake. And another thing I have to admit: I love Entenmann's stuff. Over spring break my grandma gave me a box of their buttermilk doughnuts and ohhhh I hate to say how much I enjoyed them.

  6. Talley, congrats to you! So exciting to hear you are expecting. We are expecting a baby May 5th, and I felt the SAME way the first trimester. I alternated between cake, pizza and Saltines. Glad you are back to blogging!

  7. Unbelievable! Cannot wait to try this. Good ole' Cooks Illustrated...always reliable. Thanks for the tip about cake flour too -- I am always inclined to just use all purpose. Need to get myself a stash ASAP. Also, did you read that article in NYTimes magazine a few months ago on Chris Kimball -- very entertaining!

  8. Talley, you've gone walk about (as they say in Australia) again - hope all is well. I keep hoping to see you in my reader. God bless you and your family.