Sunday, November 11, 2012

Streuselkuchen (German crumb cake)

It was my late great aunt Jenny’s 100th birthday yesterday (10-11-12, and suddenly it was 100 years later), and in her honor and to remember her I baked one of her most famous cakes (famous across generations in our family) – the streuselkuchen. When it was baked, everyone came to her house ‘zum Kaffee trinken’ (come over for a cup of coffee). It is a German custom, much like the British make time for tea and pastries in the afternoon, Germans make time for coffee and cake. Typically, since only the stay at home moms have time to do this, it is a way to meet up with girlfriends, let your kids play together, and hang out, knit, gossip, solve the life’s latest problems, and spend a few hours. On the weekends or for birthdays everyone came. This cake was a staple in my family when we all still lived close together, and it is fabulous not only because it tastes fantastic but also because it only gets better after a few days, less crumbly, more dense and the best thing to bite into when having the hot coffee.

No one could make this cake like my great aunt. It is involved, you have to have patience, nurture it, and it richly rewards you. Just like my great aunt was, one of the best cooks and bakers and gardeners I’ve ever known. Aunt Jenny, this is for you!

T_jenny

Streuselkuchen (German Crumb Cake)

this is a 1/4 of the original recipe, but the original recipe makes a whole large 8x13 inch cookie sheet. This fills the bottom of a small spring form; if using a 10 inch spring form, double recipe.

Special equipment: standmixer with dough hook (can also be kneaded manually), 7 inch spring form

Base layer:

  • 1 cup (125g) all-purpose flour
  • 2 TB warm milk
  • 1 ts fast rising yeast
  • 1 ts + 3 ts sugar (20 g altogether)  (divided: 1 ts for the yeast + milk, 3 ts for the dough)
  • 1 TB bakers milk powder (optional, but helps the yeast to rise)
  • 2.5 TB (20 g) unsalted sweet cream butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 egg (reserve other half for the crumbs)
  • pinch of salt

Mix the yeast, 1 ts of sugar and the lukewarm milk in a small bowl, and wait until yeast starts to get bubbly (ca. 15min).

In the bowl of a standmixer with the dough hook attachment, add the flour, 3 ts sugar and the bakers milk powder, and mix all three ingredients. Make a well in the flour, and pour the milk yeast mixture in it. Turn on the standmixer, and on slow mix the dry ingredients with the yeast mixture (do not yet add: butter, egg or salt since it interferes with the yeast). Once the yeast is well incorporated and distributed in the flour mix, add the butter, 1/2 egg and salt. Knead the dough on medium speed until it comes together as a ball (it will be crumbly for quite a while, ca. 10 min). If it does not come together after 15min of kneading, add 1 TB of warm milk.  Once the dough forms a ball around the hook, continue kneading for another 15min on medium speed.

base_layer

Now, remove dough from bowl of standmixer, and place in a metal, glass or ceramic bowl, and let rise for ca. 30min at a warm place. Time to make the crumbs!

Streusel (crumbs):

  • 1 cup (125 g) all-purpose flour
  • 60 g sugar
  • 60 g unsalted sweet cream butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 egg (reserve other half for the crumbs)
  • 1/2 ts bitter almond extract
  • 1 pouch Dr. Oetker Vanille sugar (or 1/2 ts liquid vanilla extract)
  • pinch of salt

In the bowl of a standmixer with the dough hook attachment, add the flour, sugar, and the butter, cut into small cubes. Start the mixer on low speed, until the flour/sugar and the butter start to incorporate. Add all the other ingredients, and let the mixer run for about 10-15 minutes until uniform-sized crumbs are form. At the beginning, the butter will be large lumps, and the flour has only tiny crumbs, but over time the butter distributes over the flour more evenly, all crumbs are about equal in size. When it doubt, just let it run a little longer. Patience!

Stop the mixer, when the crumbs are at equal size.

streusel

Preheat the oven to 50-80F (warm). Spray a spring form with baking spray, and distribute the base dough into the pan.

dough_1

Take a fork, and gently poke the dough all over the pan. Once done, brush lightly with some warm milk.

dough_1.5

Now, distribute all the streusel on the cake evenly.

dough_2

dough_3

Place in the oven at 50F for about 45min for the yeast-based base layer to rise to about 0.5-1 inch thickness. After that, remove cake from oven, and preheat to 425F, and bake the cake for ca. 20-25min.

Before serving, sprinkle wit granulated sugar.

streusel_cake 

cake

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