I’ve been looking for the perfect vegan crumb topping for a while now. Before today, my crumb toppings had always been sort of soggy, sort of greasy; more crummy than crumby. I wasn’t sure how to fix the problem.
About a month ago, I subscribed to Cook’s Illustrated. My mother used to get a subscription years ago that I loved, and but it’s taken me this long to finally get my own. Along with the magazine, they sent me their new cookbook The Best of America’s Test Kitchen: Best Recipes and Reviews 2008, and in it is a recipe for crumb cake. I read a little closer, and saw a technique for crumbs that I’d never tried before. I ran into the kitchen to try it out, and oh my, it worked! Perfect crumbs!
This is a veganized version of the recipe found in The Best Of. It’s easy to throw together with few simple ingredients (no specialty egg replacers), making it perfect for a weekend treat or a quick dessert or teatime cake for guests.
Serves 9 (8×8″ cake)
8 Tbs Earth Balance Margarine, melted
2/3 Cup Granulate Sugar*
1 tsp Molasses
3/4 tsp Cinnamon
1 Pinch Salt
1 3/4 Cup Flour (cake flour or all-purpose)
*The original recipe calls for 1/3 cup granulated sugar and 1/3 cup brown sugar. I was out of brown sugar, so I used only granulated sugar with added molasses. Afterall, that’s how brown sugar is made commercially–they simply add molasses back into the sugar after processing.
1 1/4 Cups Flour
1/2 Cup Granulated Sugar
1/2 tsp Baking Powder
1/4 tsp Salt
1/3 Cup Canola Oil, or 6 Tbs Earth Balance Margarine, softened
1/3 Cup Soymilk + 1 tsp Apple Cider Vinegar (or lemon juice)
1 Tbs Cornstarch mixed with 1/4 Cup Water
1-2 tsp Vanilla Extract
Powdered Sugar, for dusting
Preheat the oven to 350º F.
Whisk the still-warm melted earth balance with the sugar, molasses, cinnamon and salt. Mix in the flour with a spoon, or your hands, until a thick dough forms, similar to the texture of cookie dough. Let sit to cool for about 10 minutes. It should be ready when after you’ve put together the batter for the cake.
Line an 8×8 pan with aluminum foil (two sheets in a cross formation, leaving excess draped over the edges to help you remove the cake later). Spray with vegetable oil. Whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Add oil, soymilk mixture, cornstarch mixture and vanilla extract. Whisk until smooth, but do not overmix.
Add the batter to the lined pan. Begin to break apart the crumb mixture into smaller, pea sized pieces. You want to take chunks from the bowl and gently break off the crumbs, like so:
Cover the batter evenly with all the crumb mixture. It will seem like a lot! When I thought I had enough, I wasn’t even half-way through the mixture. Use it all, as the cake will expand and the crumb mixture is tasty. After all, this is crumb cake. Don’t be shy!
Bake for 40-50 minutes at 350ºF, or until the crumbs are slightly browned and a toothpick in the center of the cake comes out clean. Use the toothpick to push over a crumb or two in the middle an make sure the top doesn’t look gooey (I went the whole 50 minutes). Grab the aluminum foil and gently lift the cake out to cool for 20-30 minutes on a cooling rack. Give it a nice dusting of powdered sugar, slice and serve.
Wrap up any leftovers in plastic wrap. If there are any leftovers!