We weren’t snackers or dessert eaters when I was growing up, so the idea of crumb cake didn’t occur to me until I had my first job fresh out of high school working in a grocery store when I was 17. They came individually wrapped, and if I kept my eyes open, I could find a few on the day-old bakery rack for 10 cents. But it wasn’t just crumb cakes. I remember being fascinated by all the packaged baked goods, amazed that the selection was so huge. It was like being in a strange kind of food Disneyland having my very own income and anything I wanted to purchase at my fingertips.
My mother didn’t keep too many “goodies” in the house beyond what was packed in our lunches, and even then, variety was almost non-existent. And grocery stores in general were an oddity to me because she shopped at the Navy Commissary, and rarely took us with her.
So when I came across this recipe for crumb cake in an old magazine, I had to try it, remembering my long ago fascination with those oh-so-moist little cakes and the crumbly tops that make a sweet mess each time you sink your teeth into one.
There will be no hiding the fact that you’ve had your hand in the sweets!
Cardamom Pecan Crumb Cake
For the crumb…
2 cups pecans
2 sticks unsalted butter, melted
3/4 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
For the cake…
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1 cup whole milk
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, melted
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
For the glaze…
1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 teaspoons whole milk
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 350° F and lightly butter a 9-by-13-inch baking pan.
Spread pecans on a baking sheet and toast for 8 minutes, until lightly browned. Cool, then coarsely chop.
In a medium bowl, stir melted butter with sugars,cardamom and salt. Add flour and stir until clumpy. Stir in nuts.
In a large bowl, whisk flour with sugar, baking powder and salt. In a medium bowl, whisk eggs with milk, melted butter and vanilla. Add egg mixture to dry ingredients and stir until just combined. Scrape batter into prepared baking pan, smoothing the surface. Scatter crumbs topping in large clumps over the cake.
Bake for about 50 minutes, until crumbs are golden and firm and a wooden skewer inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.
Transfer to a rack to cool.
In a bowl, whisk all glaze ingredients together. Drizzle glaze over the cake; let cool slightly. Serve warm or at room temperature.
- I made this for our house full of guests on Christmas morning this year so people could graze while opening presents, and only a few crumbs were left. Guess it was a hit!
- Perfect for breakfast, a snack for lunch, brunch, dessert, you name it, and it would work.
- Want a special treat for a friend? Makes a great gift, too! Pick up either a new pan, or an old treasure from an second-hand shop, make the crumb cake, wrap it in cellophane with some raffia and gift away. Don’t forget to include the recipe!
- Of course you could use cinnamon instead of cardamom, and it would be great, but there’s something so lovely about cardamom. If you have any pumpkin pie spice left over in your pantry, give that a try also!
- Spice up the glaze for a variation, too.
- Make it the night before, and let it cool before wrapping it with plastic wrap. Glaze either before storing, or immediately before serving.