Glazed Crumb Cake with Cardamom and Pecans

January 10, 2009

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.

Mmmm....look at that thick crumb top!

Notes:

  • 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.

{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

HoneyB January 10, 2009

Ok, I have to make this. It looks so delicious!! I am going to plan to make it tomorrow morning for our breakfast!

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Judy January 10, 2009

Love the idea that you gave for it being a gift!!! I have a bunch of girlfriend’s birthdays coming up and crumb cake would be great!!!

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laurie January 10, 2009

It looks wicked good. My hubs fav cake is coffee cake, so I am sure he would love this.

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Paula January 10, 2009

Wow that cake looks so moist and delicious. What a great gift!

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Christine January 10, 2009

So being from NJ this an blog post close to my heart! LOVE THE CRUMB CAKE! You should think about doing a cookbook! Your photography and stories are so great!

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Erin January 10, 2009

This looks delicious! This would get eaten fast in our house!

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Kiran January 11, 2009

I have never heard of this cake before, it looks great and may put it on my list of recipes I want to try soon ;)

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grace January 11, 2009

i’m loving the heck out of the height of your crumb. it’s by far the best part for me, so it deserves at least an equivalent height to the cake part. nicely done.

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Vicki January 11, 2009

I always forget about cardamom, and that’s a shame, because I love it. Thanks for reminding me!

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Darius T. Williams January 11, 2009

Yup – so i could TOTALLY go for this!

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Fearless Kitchen January 12, 2009

This looks wonderful! I love cardamom – there’s something so elegant about it.

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peabody January 12, 2009

Now that is what I call coffee cake!

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Blond Duck January 12, 2009

It looks fabulous! I couldn’t make it, because everyone would know I ate it all up.

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Lo! January 12, 2009

Love cardamom coffee-cake… and I haven’t had a crumb cake in years. This totally looks like it rocks.

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Kevin January 12, 2009

Great looking crumb cake!

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Jude January 13, 2009

I’m all about the crumbly tops too when it comes to cakes like this. Yum.

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ingrid January 19, 2009

I was never a “dessert” person but I think that was because when we lived in NYC we only ever had Drakes and then when we moved to FL there was only Little Debbies neither one was appealing and my mom didn’t “bake”.
Thanks for sharing the recipe. A few weeks back I finally purchased some cardamom and have been half heartedly looking for a recipe that called for it. I think I’ll do as you suggested and add some to the glaze to spice it up.
~ingrid

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laurie January 24, 2009

Just baked this up this morning. The house smells lovely. Can’t wait till my hubs and brother actually get up so we can eat it!
(fail on my part was, I halved the whole recipe, except for the baking powder. So, it got some height! lol)

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