4. USING a fork, combine the butter, brown sugar, flour and cinnamon in small bowl. Use your hands to press the mixture into large crumbs (streusel). Spread the cake batter into theprepared pan and cover with crumb topping.
5. BAKE until a toothpick inserted into center comes out clean, 35-40 minutes. Let cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then remove the pan sides and cool completely. Store the cake at room temperature for up to 3 days; or freeze leftovers.
THE HISTORY OF CRUMB CAKE
Long popular as the topping on Streuselkuchen (streusel cake), Germany’s crumb-topped yeast cake, streusel (pronounced SHTROY-zul) is a topping made from butter, flour and sugar. It can also contain chopped nuts or rolled oats.
The word derives from the German “streuen” (SHTROY-en), meaning to sprinkle or scatter.
The crumb cake is believed to have originated in Silesia, once part of Germany but today in western Poland (if you’ve read James Michener’s historical novel, Poland, you know the borders changed regularly).
The original Streuselkuchen was very flat, with crumbs equal to the height of the cake (think one inch of cake topped with one inch of crumbs). To some streusel lovers, that’s perfection!
The original recipe engendered variations with layers or ribbons of tart fruits (apples, gooseberries, sour cherries, rhubarb) and poppy seeds. Some versions even included pastry cream.
Another popular coffee cake, also a yeast cake (but without crumbs), is glazed with sugar syrup, can be strewn with raisins and nuts and drizzled with royal icing. In our youth, when German emigré bakers plied their craft in New York City and elsewhere, it was as popular as crumb cake (and neater to eat, too).