Johnny’s Crumb Cake

Johnny's crumb cake

I think the first time I saw or even heard of Johnny Iuzzini was when he was a judge on Top Chef.  To me, there isn’t anything much cooler than a motorcycle riding, modern-day Elvis looking guy with tattoos who also happens to be a pastry chef.  Super cool!  I saw Johnny wrote a new book, Sugar Rush, but unfortunately, I was not able to cross it off my Christmas wish list. Luckily I came across this crumb cake recipe from his book, so I thought I would try a recipe before I bought it.  Since it will probably be a long time before I get to taste one of his actual desserts, making one of Johnny’s recipes is the next best thing. And, crumb cake is a perfect place to start because everyone in my family loves coffee cake. What I love about this recipe is that as a pastry chef, besides the traditional measurements, all the ingredients are given by weight. Baking is about being precise and if you say you aren’t a baker, this is the way to get good results every time as long as you have a good, reliable recipe. No measuring cups are needed, you just keep adding ingredients and zeroing out the scale for each new ingredient. I had my scale for like a year before I used it because for some reason, even as a pharmacist, using it was intimidating probably because it was just different from what I was used to. But now, if there are weight measurements, I use them.  You won’t believe the difference.

A few notes about this recipe. First, the batter barely covers the pan. I checked the pan size like five times, but it is 13×9.  I was worried that I would have a really short cake. Second, the crumb is very wet and heavy and there is a ton of it compared to the cake. Given those two things, I didn’t think there was any way this recipe would work out. But, I knew I measured everything correctly, so I put it in the oven and crossed my fingers.  I was pleasantly surprised to see how much the cake rose. The cake is really fluffy and light, compared to some crumb cakes that can be a little dense. The crumb gets really crunchy on top, providing a perfect texture contrast to the cake.  Honestly, no joke, this one of the best crumb cakes I ever had.

Johnny Iuzzini’s Crumb Cake
Yield: 13×9 cake
Cake
2 cups all-purpose flour (250g)
5½ tablespoons (1/3 cup) unsalted butter (75g)
½ cup granulated sugar (100g)
1 large egg, at room temperature
¼ cup sour cream, at room temperature (60g)
⅔ cup milk, at room temperature (160g)
1 tablespoon vanilla (15g)
1 tablespoon baking powder (12g)
pinch of kosher salt
Crumb topping
2¼ cups all-purpose flour (280g)
1¼ cups packed light brown sugar (290g)
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon (6g)
2 sticks unsalted butter, melted (226g)
Instructions:
Take out and measure the ingredients that need to be at room temperature: sour cream, milk, eggs and butter.
Make sure the baking rack is in the middle of the oven. Preheat to 350ºF.
Spray a 9×13-inch glass baking pan (I used a metal pan) with Pam. Lightly dust with flour and tap out any excess
In the bowl of your KitchenAid, beat the butter and sugar with the paddle until light and fluffy, ~ 3 minutes.
Add in the egg and sour cream. Mix until combined.
In a measuring cup, whisk together the milk and the vanilla.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour and baking powder. Sprinkle in the pinch of salt
With the mixer on low, alternately add the wet and dry ingredients. Start and finish with the dry ingredients. Make sure to stop to scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed, unless you a have a beater blade that does this for you
Spread the batter evenly into the prepared pan. Note: this barely covers the bottom of the pan.
Now, for the crumb topping:
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, brown sugar and cinnamon until uniform.
Pour in the melted butter. Stir until completely moistened. This will be heavy, wet and lots of it. Make sure to use it all.
Roll the mixture between the tips of your fingers to make small balls of crumb
Scatter the topping evenly over the top of the batter in the pan, right from your hands as you roll it. Completely cover the cake batter. It will be about half cake to half crumb.
Bake for about 30 minutes or until the center of the cake is firm to the touch and it springs back lightly when pressed.
Note: If the cake is not done in 30 minutes, reduce the temperature to 325ºF and continue to bake until done- checking frequently
Remove the cake from the oven. Lightly dust the cake with powdered sugar.
Allow the cake to cool completely and give it a generous dusting of powdered sugar
Source: Sugar Rush by Johnny Iuzzini, as seen on Taste and Tell
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5 Comments

  1. Wow – this looks so light and fluffy! So glad you mentioned the correct pan size and that the batter seemed thin. I am happy it rose as expected. What a beautiful coffee cake! Happy new year to you and your family!

    Reply
  2. This looks truly delicious. Thanks for sharing, can’t wait to try it!

    Reply
  3. mmmmmm this looks heavenly! I love crumb topping so the more the merrier!

    Reply
  4. cpauldin

     /  January 2, 2015

    I always appreciate when bloggers explain how the recipe goes together, what to watch out for, etc. It gives extra confidence when baking- thanks!

    Reply
  1. Johnny Iuzzini’s Crumb Cake | Rumbly in my Tumbly

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