Every now and then I’ll see a recipe and stick it on my Pinterest page and then, instead of just forgetting about it like I often do, I will become obsessed with making it. OBSESSED. This is what finds me making cakes at 9:30 on a Monday night while our landlord puts insulation and drywall in our fire-damaged kitchen.
This is what happened when I found a crumb cake recipe on Ambrosia. I only had to read the words “crumb cake” and I was immediately transported back many (many) years to grade school, and accompanying my dad to the Hostess outlet store. Did you have one of these? It was like a factory outlet for Hostess products, which to an 8-year-old is like the most wondrous thing that could ever possibly happen EVER. My dad would stop in every now and then to get himself Hostess fruit pies for his lunches, and sometimes I’d get the crumb cakes.
I’m not sure when/if the crumb cakes disappeared, and to be honest they were probably not actually that good, but in my memory they were delicious. I’ve loved crumb cake ever since and I’ve never just gone ahead and made one. When I saw the recipe on Ambrosia I became single-minded in my quest to make that cake.
And sometimes you have to be single-minded bordering on obsessive, because you might not have all the ingredients you need. You might have to improvise. For instance, I had to make my own brown sugar for the crumb topping. That left me with exactly no white sugar for the cake, so I used caster sugar instead. I had exactly the right amount of flour and exactly two sticks of butter. (I used half a cup of milk and half a cup of half-and-half, instead of a whole cup of milk, but that was a choice and it’s one I highly encourage you to make, too.)
So here I am—sugarless, brown sugarless, caster sugarless, flourless and butterless. But I have crumb cake.