While crumb cake might be too ordinary for most to request on their birthday, it was the perfect choice for my frosting-loathing and spice-loving Astronomer. To up the celebratory quotient, I swapped out traditional cinnamon for a heaping teaspoon of Guatemalan cardamom—it’s the birthday boy’s current obsession.
I knew this America’s Test Kitchen recipe would yield a winning cake, but The Astronomer’s reaction was even better than expected. Don’t tell his mama, but he declared it to be “the best birthday cake ever!” Oh, how will I ever top this in the future?
Employing cake flour in both the crumb topping and cake resulted in a delicate body and a satisfying crumb. Rich buttery notes tied everything together, while the cardamom added a sexy touch like only it can.
Although I initially frowned upon The Astronomer’s desire for a such a pedestrian cake, this one made me a crumb cake convert, and I wouldn’t hesitate to request it for my next birthday. Mmm, cardamom!
For crumb topping
- 1/3 cup (2.3 ounces) granulated sugar
- 1/3 cup packed (2.3 ounces) dark brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
- 1 3/4 cups (7 ounces) cake flour
- 1 1/4 cups (5 ounces) cake flour
- 1/2 cup (3.5 ounces) granulated sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 6 pieces and softened
- 1 large egg, room temperature
- 1 large egg yolk, room temperature
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/3 cup buttermilk, room temperature
- Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting
Whisk the granulated and brown sugars, cardamom, salt, and melted butter together in a medium bowl to combine. Stir in the flour until the mixture resembles a thick, cohesive dough. Let the crumb topping mixture rest at room temperature until needed.
Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 325 degrees. Line an 8-inch square baking pan with a foil sling and grease the foil.
Whisk the flour, granulated sugar, baking soda, and salt together in a large bowl. Using an electric mixer on medium-low speed, beat the butter into the flour mixture, one piece at a time, about 30 seconds. Continue to beat the mixture until it resembles moist crumbs, 1 to 3 minutes.
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