I’ve been watching the tv series Cake Boss on YouTube and in one episode, Buddy makes a crumb cake using the leftover trimmings from his other cakes.
I thought that was a brilliant idea, so I bought his cookbook to see how it was done. If you’re a fan of the show, the book is an engaging read, giving the full history of his family and the bakery. But I was disappointed to find that the crumb cake recipe provided was similar to ones I’d seen before, with a topping created from sugar, flour and shortening.
So I thought I’d experiment! I defrosted frozen leftover cake…
Crumbled it and mixed it with brown sugar and melted butter…
Then spread it out over vanilla cake batter…
Baked it for 30 minutes in the oven…
And topped it with icing sugar…
This cake was incredibly popular with my boys – Small Man who only ever eats chocolate cake ate about a quarter of it on his own. The neighbours loved it too – so much so that a couple of them stopped me on the street to rave about it. It’s definitely a keeper!
As Buddy pointed out in the video, a heavy dusting of icing sugar at the end is essential. And even though it’s really just a riff on our basic tea cake recipe, the texture created by the twice-baked crumb is so interesting that it changes the cake completely.
Crumb cake is the ideal way to deal with our current egg glut – I’ve now baked a couple of vanilla tea cakes and stashed them in the freezer for future crumbling. I might add a layer of berries next time, or try my friend Dotti’s suggestion and make crumb topped cupcakes.
Here’s my recipe, but please don’t feel you need to stick to it – just take the idea and run with it. I’ve given instructions for making the whole cake from scratch, but this is really the perfect recipe for using up leftover bits of cake that you have stashed in the freezer, and the perfect reason to never throw old cake away again!
Fig Jam and Lime Cordial Crumb Cake
Step 1: Crumb Topping
Basic Vanilla Tea Cake Batter
- 250g unsalted butter, soft but not melted
- 200g caster (superfine) sugar
- 4 large free range eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (I used homemade)
- 150g self-raising flour
- 150g almond meal
Note: this recipe can also be made in a stand mixer, instructions are here.
1. In the large bowl of the food processor, blitz together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time and pulse until combined, adding in a spoonful of the flour if required to stop the batter from splitting (but don’t worry too much if it does). Scrape down the sides as needed. Add the vanilla and pulse again.
2. Stir or sift the flour and almond meal together, then add to the food processor and pulse until just combined.
3. Scrape the batter into a medium baking pan lined with parchment paper (I used a rectangular 30cm x 23cm /12″x9″ pan enamel baking pan) and bake in a preheated 175C (or 160C with fan) oven for 35-40 minutes until a fine skewer inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean. This recipe makes enough to top four crumb cakes.
4. Allow the cake to cool, then cut it into quarters. Store well wrapped in the freezer until needed.
Making the crumb topping:
In a medium bowl, crumble 250g of (defrosted) vanilla tea cake or leftover cake into small pieces (not too fine). Stir in 50g dark brown sugar, then 50g melted unsalted butter. Mix well to combine.
. . . . .
Step 2: Making the Crumb Cake
1. Make another batch of the vanilla tea cake batter, following steps 1 and 2 above.
2. Line a large baking pan with parchment paper – I used my 34cm x 28cm (13½” x 11″) enamel Falcon pan. Preheat the oven to 175C or 160C with fan.
3. Spread the batter over the base of the lined pan, then scatter the prepared crumb mix over the top. Press it on lightly.
4. Bake for 30 minutes until the topping is quite brown and a fine skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean. Allow to cool on a wire rack, then dredge generously with sifted icing sugar mixture.
. . . . .
I hope you enjoy making this cake as much as I have – it’s definitely one to add to our regular baking list. I think the technique of making the crumb topping from leftover cake will have a multitude of different applications – we’ve already used it for fruit crumbles, but I can also see it as a topping for blueberry muffins and cupcakes. Please let us know if you come up with any creative ideas!