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Sunday, April 6, 2014

Coffee Cake, Crumb Cake, What's the Difference?

Does anyone know the difference between Coffee Cake and Crumb Cake? Is there even a difference or are they basically the same depending on what part of the country you live in, or perhaps the world.

Coffee Cake
I ask because tomorrow is National Coffee Cake Day and although I have attempted to explain the absence of the ingredient coffee in most coffee cakes, I have not been able to put my finger on a notable difference between Crumb Cake and Coffee Cake. Help!!!

I was looking for a coffee cake (aka crumb cake) recipe to share today and I thought it would be interesting to step back a few years for more of a “retro” type Crumb Cake (aka Coffee Cake:) to share.

My first stop was The American Woman’s Cook Book edited by Ruth Berolzheimer, director of the Culinary Arts Institute, and revised in 1947. In it I found two interesting recipes for Coffee Cake. The first recipe was included in the Yeast Bread chapter and the other in the Quick Bread chapter. It seems, at some point in time, a breakfast including Coffee Cake on the menu was most likely leavened with yeast.

Coffee Cake Recipe | American Woman's Cookbook
To really confuse things, I also happened upon a Rich Coffee Cake recipe in The Boston Cooking School Cook Book by Fannie Merritt Farmer. (1925 edition; Cora Perkins) The thing is, the Rich Coffee Cake recipe includes coffee as an ingredient!!! (So much for my theory on where’s the coffee in coffee cake)
Rich Coffee Cake | Boston Cooking School Cookbook

By most accounts, there are two types of cakes: butter cakes which are made with shortening; and sponge cakes, in which no shortening is used.

Kinds of Cakes | Home Baking for Profit
Confused yet? I surely am. As a matter of fact, you’ll notice my Pinterest board for National Coffee Cake Day, is a bit unsettling too. If the title of the recipe doesn’t include the word Coffee Cake in some form or another, I haven’t been pinning it.
Coffee Cake Pinterest Board

Well today, dear visitors, that is going to change. You see, I baked a cake for you today.

New York Style Crumb Cake

It’s a New York Style Crumb Cake recipe that I found on the Bon Appétit website. I chose this particular recipe because it reminds me of the kind of crumb cakes that I grew up with in New York. (makes sense to me, I’ve been missing New York a lot lately. Well mostly the food actually:)

New York Style Crumb Cake
I can not tell you how much Marion and I enjoyed this cake. Indescribably delicious! You see, for us, it’s all about the crumbs! And boy oh boy, is this cake crummy! And beneath that thick layer of crumbly cinnamon crumbs is a moist, dense layer of buttery cake. Perfect with a hot cup of coffee or tea but Marion and I actually had ours with a huge glass of milk! There was just one problem with this hit the spot Coffee Cake Crumb Cake, I probably should have halved the recipe. I thought about freezing it but I didn’t want to take a chance that I may ruin it. (yes I’m pretty proud of this one folks!) So, I cut it in half, packaged it up, and brought half the cake down to Harry’s. (Harry’s is the local place where I go for breakfast every morning:) I wasn’t there when Harry got his “delivery,” but I heard that he not only had a piece for lunch, he and his wife had New York Style Crumb Cake for dessert that night. When I went into the diner the next morning, the girls in the diner told me Harry wouldn’t share with them. However, after he finished his breakfast that morning, and another piece of cake, he took a piece for the road and told the girls they could have the crumbs, lol…(You really need to “meet” Harry one of these days. He a hoot:)

If you have any feelings on the Coffee Cake vs Crumb Cake dilemma, I’d love to hear it. As for me, I’ll be slowly nibbling on my last piece of New York Style Crumb Cake right down to the very last crumb! Oh, just in case you’re a stickler for recipes with Coffee Cake in the title, here’s the recipe for the French Chocolate Coffee Cake pictured at top. It was harvested from the Better Homes & Gardens Test Kitchen Favorites cookbook published in 2003.

French Chocolate Cake Recipe | Better Home & Garden