When I was a freshman in college, I had an awesome roommate (I actually had two, but the other one was MIA most of the time). Among the many things that made our room awesome was the near-constant supply of Drake's Coffee Cakes, that her mom used to send us in bulk. It started as a four-pack in one of her care packages, but as soon as I tried them, I was hooked. And I think I dragged my roommate down with me. Soon enough, her mom was sending us entire shipments of Costco-sized boxes. We were like Drake's junkies.
It has been a long, long time since I had those cakes. Let's not admit just how long, because it makes me feel really old, but suffice it to say I haven't had a Drake's in forever. I don't even think they sell them west of Pennsylvania.
I was reminded of Drake's when I saw this Super Crumb Coffee Cake the other day. You see, Drake's had major crumb. It was soft and buttery and I'd be lying if I said I didn't throw away the cake part after scraping it clean of crumb topping a few times.
So I set out to recreate these ridiculously addictive little cakes, complete with the soft and moist cake and the big clumps of buttery crumb. It's been a very long time since I have had the real thing, but I would not hesitate to declare that the homemade ones are much better.
There are three things you should never skimp on: sunscreen, sprinkles and the crumbly topping on top of coffee cake (Seriously, guys, priorities). There is a nearly equal cake-to-crumbly-topping ratio in this recipe, so we are set. The cake is almost unbearably tender and silky and the crumb topping is hearty and substantial, and just a little bit sweet.
This recipe is a little fussier than the ones I usually make, but I assure you that the extra effort is well worth it. The original recipe is from Cook's Illustrated, which means it is not only excellent, but perfect; they obsessively stress test every recipe before they publish it, and it pays off. These little coffee cakes won rave reviews from my official test subject, and - to reiterate - I'm pretty sure they leave the Drake's version in the dust.
Adapted from Cook's Illustrated
For the crumb topping:
8 Tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup dark brown sugar
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Pinch table salt, or 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 3/4 cups cake flour*
For the cake:
1 1/4 cups cake flour*
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon table salt (or 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt)
6 Tablespoons unsalted butter (3/4 stick)
1 large egg at room temperature**
2 Tablespoons plain Greek yogurt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup buttermilk***
Confectioner's sugar for dusting (optional)
*Note #1: Yes, you really do need cake flour for these to turn out properly. Using all-purpose will produce dry and brittle cakes.
**Note #2: If you forget to set the egg out in advance to warm up to room temperature, try submerging it in very warm water before you begin making the crumb. That way, by the time you need it for the cake, it will be ready.
***Note #3: If you don't have buttermilk on hand, add a generous splash of lemon juice to the bottom of a 1/3 cup measuring cup and fill the rest with milk. Stir gently and set aside to curdle slightly.
Make the crumb:
Cut the stick of butter into 8 pieces and, in a microwave-safe bowl, heat on high for 1 minute. Stir briefly to finish melting any small chunk that remain, and set aside to cool slightly while you mix the dry ingredients.
In a large mixing bowl, combine sugars, cinnamon, salt and and flour and make sure the brown sugar is broken up and no large clumps remain. Slowly drizzle in the slightly-cooled butter while mixing with a fork. The batter will form many large clumps, some small clumps, and some dry mixture will remain at the bottom of the bowl (that's ok). Don't overmix; you want to retail those large clumps.
Set aside the crumb for now.
Make the cake:
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Thoroughly coat a 12-muffin tin with nonstick spray and set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix flour, sugar, baking soda and salt on low speed to combine. If the butter is straight out of the fridge, cut it into 6 pieces, lay them out on a plate, and microwave on high for 15 seconds. If the butter is at room temperature, just cut it into pieces (do not microwave). Leaving the mixer running, add butter one piece at a time and beat for a minute or so until the butter is incorporated and no chunks remain.
Combine egg, yogurt, vanilla extract and buttermilk in a tupperware container and shake vigorously for a few seconds until completely smooth. Add to the mixer bowl and mix on medium high speed for about a minute just until it becomes light and fluffy. A few very small chunks of butter may remain, which is fine. Be careful not to overmix.
Fill each cupcake cup about halfway with cake batter (I used a heaping 2-inch cookie scoop-ful for each, but you can also just eyeball it). Tap slightly to even out the batter. Spoon the topping over the batter to fill the fill the remaining half of the cups.
Bake for 10 minutes, turn the pan around on the rack, and back for another 11 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for about 10 minutes in the pan before eating.
Note: If you want to make one large coffee cake instead of individual servings, one reader recommends using a 9"x9" pan, and baking at 325 for approximately 30 minutes, until the tester comes out clean. Thank you to Donna for sharing this info!
Makes 12 cakes. Keeps for up to 5 days in an airtight container.