Recently we visited rural Pennsylvania where my wife grew up. The trip was very nostalgic for her. One of the highlights was stopping at two regional grocery stores; Henning’s and Landis. When she was a girl they were just small country stores which have grown a lot larger. (Henning’s boasts 57,000 square feet). She was beside herself standing in front of the deli department stocked with all the Pennsylvania Dutch goodies such as beet pickled eggs, chow chows of all types, multiple types of scrapple. I had to remind her that there was only so much room in the car. The real piece de resistance was the stop at Landis. Every Christmas she mail orders shoofly pie and funny cake from them. There, she stood confronted with shelf after shelf of shoofly pie, funny cake, apple sauce cake, apies pie, hard tac cake and others. They even offered free samples with a small cup of coffee!! She couldn’t resist and loaded up. Despite the mother load she brought back with her, she was inspired to make some PA Dutch dishes. This is one of them called “Crumb cake”. It is not too sweet, and is very moist with interesting rough texture. I really like this cake. (Like many Pa Dutch baked goods although it is a cake it is made in a pie pan).
The name “Crumb” comes from the fact the whole cake; both top and bottom are made from “Crumbs”.
3 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
2/3 cup butter
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup buttermilk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract
Sift together flour, baking power, salt, sugar and soda.
Using a pastry cutter, cut in the butter until the mixture has the consistency of course meal or small peas. (These are the crumbs for which the cake is named. )
Reserve about 1 1/2 cups of this mixture and set aside.
Combine the eggs, milk and extracts and stir into the remainder of the dry ingredients and blend. (First picture below)
Pour into 2 well-buttered 10-inch pie pans.
Brush the top of the dough w/ butter and sprinkle with the reserved crumb mixture. (Middle picture below)
Bake at 350° for 25-30 minutes or until cake is done. (Last picture).
(Pie pan filled with wet and dry “Crumbs” mixture).
The cake is mildly sweet with a lovely moist texture. The combined flavors of the brown sugar, vanilla and almond is very distinctive but delightfully mild. The cake went so well with our espresso. The cake is so easy to make. We’ll be seeing this one again.