Saturday, October 6, 2012

Grandma Viola's Crumb Cake

Today's spin used dried cranberries, and a little extra
spice in the crumb topping. Yes, that is my Dad's tablecloth!
When I was little, my favorite cake in the whole world was from a recipe my maternal Grandma Viola made, a crumb cake with raisins and nuts. It is a large crumbed, moist, spicy cake, with a wonderfully crispy/short topping made with very simple ingredients. I love it, and it was my birthday cake every year, and I have made it hundreds of times, shared the recipe with dozens of friends, and also adapted it into a delicious, moist pumpkin version I will post soon. This recipe was one of the first ones I added to my own personally illustrated cookbook which I prepared before going away to college. I tried to capture many of the family recipes which hadn't been written down, or if they were, they could be found in an end page of a random cookbook or a scrap of paper between some pages.

My 1974 cookbook, Grandma Viola's Crumb Cake Recipe
Recently, I was able to widely distribute this recipe and the pumpkin spin to many of my family members. Especially fun was sending them to my cousins, Tony and Josh Kellar, both accomplished chef's in South Dakota. We all share a branch in Viola's family tree, and they have both spent many months in Vietnam working with my brother Geoff, in his many restaurants in Ho Chi Minh City. It was great to have captured this recipe, and been able to redistribute it to another generation of our Kelley family. Geoff has been expanding his offerings in Vietnam, and he has also made some luscious variations on this cake, and I will post his pictures as soon as I get them.

I like to bake almost anything in ceramic dishes, it seems
 to give the cake a softer bottom.

My Grandma Viola's Crumb Cake, original version:

Preheat oven to a moderate oven (this would be about 350F)

2 c flour
1 c sugar
3/4 c butter

Cream these together to an even but coarse crumb (like making pie crust) and set aside 1/2 c of the crumb mixture

to the rest add
1 beaten egg
1 cup sour milk (add a Tbl. of vinegar to the milk to sour it.You could use any mild acid, like lemon juice, or even use buttermilk. The acidity promotes goood leavening action with the baking soda).
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground clove
add raisin and/or chopped walnuts to taste (about 1 cup total, but more or less works)

Mix together and put in a greased floured pan, sprinkle the crumb mixture evenly over the top and bake until done

I have made this in an 8x8 or a 9 x 13, the 8x8 will cook longer, about 40 minutes, but check it after 30 minutes. Check doneness with a toothpick in the center, it should come out dry and clean, but be careful not to cook it too, long, you want it to be moist. I have made it in muffin pans too.

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