What favorite products do you use all the time? Do you talk about them in your blog (if you have one)? One of the things I love most about the food blogging community is the sharing of ideas. And that includes favorite ingredients and equipment as well as recipes. If there's something that I really like, I love telling people about it. Anyone who's been reading my blog for a while knows that I use King Arthur flours and Scharffen Berger cocoa powder and love Clearbrook Farms fruit butters. I don't get anything from these companies, I just think they have marvelous products that I've used a lot.
Every once in a while, though, I am offered free samples of new things to try. Some I turn down, if I know it's something that I wouldn't normally use. I started this as a baking blog, to share my experiences with recipes, not really to talk about products. But sometimes I will go ahead and accept the offer to try something, if I know I will use it for baking and it comes with no real strings attached. One such offer came my way several months back from Stonyfield.
They sent me coupons to try their (relatively) new Greek Yogurt, Oikos. (Ooh, and they sent me the coolest reusable shopping bag--it folds up really small so I can carry it in my purse, which means I actually use it frequently!) Fairly soon after getting the coupons, I got a couple of small flavored containers (vanilla and honey) and a big container of plain. I ate the small ones as part of my lunches for work. Pretty good, but what I was really interested in was using the plain yogurt as an ingredient for baking. But I had the hardest time deciding what to use it for. So it sat, and sat, and sat in the back of my fridge. And yes, yogurt does eventually go bad. I was pretty annoyed with myself. So I waited a while, and finally picked up another small container of the plain yogurt, promising myself that I would use it soon. And it got pushed to the back of the fridge too, and sat there until I found it again on Sunday morning.
I wasn't actually looking for it at the time. I was working on making the coffeecake that I'd promised Gillian. She must have asked me every ten minutes if the coffeecake was ready yet. I wasn't moving very fast, and was having a hard time deciding what recipe to make. It went from being coffeecake for breakfast, to being for lunch, to finally being afternoon snack. =) But I remembered seeing a post about crumb cake a while back on Baker's Banter, and when I looked it up, it was pretty similar to what I was in the mood for. But I wanted a brown sugar cinnamon crumb topping, so I modified my favorite one that I use for apple pie.
A nice thing about the recipe for the cake part is that it calls for either yogurt, buttermilk or sour cream. Very versatile. I was digging in my fridge to see what I had on hand when I remembered the Oikos. It worked quite nicely--it almost seems like a cross between yogurt and sour cream. It has a thicker texture than regular yogurt, but is fat free. That's great, because it tastes good and doesn't have any weird ingredients. Fat free sour cream scares me.
And the verdict for the crumb cake? Well, Brianna pronounced it "one of the best things I've ever eaten!" So I guess it's safe to say it was a hit. =) I've made a number of variations of crumb cake over time, and I have to agree with her that this one is a keeper. I really like the texture of the cake. And I knew the crumb part would be good. Gillian and Jamie loved it too. I think this one will be going into the regular rotation.
Here's my version of the recipe:
For the cake:
4 ounces (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened
8 3/4 ounces (1 1/4 cups) vanilla sugar
3/4 teaspoon table salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
6 1/4 ounces (1 1/2 cups) all-purpose flour
heaping 1/8 teaspoon baking soda
4 ounces greek yogurt, such as Oikos
For the crumb topping:
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1/2" cubes
1/4 teaspoon table salt
3 1/2 ounces (1/2 cup) light brown sugar
1 3/4 ounces (1/4 cup) granulated sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line a 9" square baking pan with a parchment sling and spray with baking spray (such as Pam for Baking--yes, another favorite).
For the cake batter, put the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add the sugar and salt and cream them together with the butter, beating for about 2 minutes. Mix in the vanilla. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. After the last egg has been added, continue to beat for another 3 minutes, until the mixture looks smooth and fluffy. Gently stir in the flour and baking soda, just until incorporated. Then stir in the yogurt until well blended. Spread the batter in the prepared pan and bake for 30 minutes.
While the cake is baking, prepare the topping. Place the sugars, flour, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg in a bowl and mix them together, breaking up any lumps in the sugar. Add the butter, and work together with your fingers until you have crumbs of varying sizes. After the 30 minutes is up, remove the cake from the oven. Scatter the crumbs evenly over the top, and return the pan to the oven to bake for 15 to 20 minutes longer. The cake is done when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove the cake from the oven and cool it on a rack. Once the cake is cool, dust the top with powdered sugar.