Gingerbread Crumble Coffee Cake

SERVES: 8

Make this cake in a 9 or 10” springform pan which has higher sides than a normal round cake pan and can handle the tall, towering crumb topping. You could also use a bundt pan–and invert it onto a platter after it has cooled. A cake cooked in a bundt pan will bake more quickly since it’s being cooked from both the inside and outside simultaneously, so start checking 10 minutes sooner than the recipe suggests.

Active Time: 1 hr 15 Mins

Total Time: 2 hr 40 mins

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Produce

  • One 3- to 4-inch piece large ginger

Pantry

  • 2 cups pecans and/or walnuts
  • 1 ⅔ cups plus 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • ¾ cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¾ teaspoon ground cloves
  • Kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon fresh nutmeg
  • 2 slightly heaping tablespoons molasses
  • 2 ¼ teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 ½ cups granulated sugar
  • 1 ½ tablespoons pure vanilla extract
  • Powdered sugar for sprinkling (optional)

Dairy

  • 3 ½ sticks (14 ounces) unsalted butter, plus additional for greasing pan
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup sour cream
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1. Do some prep:

  • Place 1 ½ sticks of butter on the counter to soften. (You can also soften the butter in a microwave, zapping at 4 second intervals until you can press a finger with medium firmness into the stick and leave an indentation.) Leave the other 2 sticks of butter in the fridge.
  • Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees.
  • Grease a 9 or 10-inch springform pan with butter. Line the bottom with a round of parchment paper and butter the parchment.

2. Make the streusel:

  • Chop 2 cups of pecans and/or walnuts somewhat finely; some pieces should be the size of lentils, and some should remain a bit larger. Grate enough ginger to measure 3 packed tablespoons on the small holes of a box grater or with a microplane.
  • Cut the remaining 2 sticks of butter into cubes and add to a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add 1 ⅔ cups flour, ¾ cup brown sugar, 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, ¾ teaspoon cloves, 1 ¼ teaspoons salt, and ½ teaspoon nutmeg. Mix/beat on medium speed, scraping down the bowl as necessary, until well-combined and crumbly. Add 2 slightly heaping tablespoons of molasses and the grated ginger. Continue mixing until totally incorporated and a homogenous, clumpy, cookie dough-like mixture forms. Add the nuts and mix to distribute, breaking the crumble into small pieces. Transfer the mixture to a container and chill or freeze until very firm, while you proceed with the rest.

3. Make the cake batter and assemble cake:

  • In a medium bowl, whisk to combine the remaining 1 ½ cups flour, 2 ¼ teaspoons baking powder, and 1 teaspoon salt.
  • Add the 1½ sticks softened butter to the bowl of the stand mixer (or another large bowl if using a hand mixer) along with 1½ cups granulated sugar. Beat on medium speed until lightened and fluffy, scraping down the sides of the bowl once or twice, about 3 minutes. Reduce speed to low and add 2 eggs and 1 ½ tablespoons vanilla. Mix, again scraping down the bowl, until combined. Add 1 cup sour cream and mix until combined. If the mixture looks curdled at any point, don’t fear! The batter will smooth out when you add the dry ingredients.
  • Add the dry ingredients and mix on medium low just until no floury parts remain. Transfer a little less than half of the cake batter to the prepared pan, spreading into an even layer with an offset spatula. Break up about one-third of the chilled crumble mixture into small bits and sprinkle into an even layer on top of the batter. The pieces of the crumble should vary, ranging in size from the size of a pea to the size of a pecan half.
  • Spread the remaining cake batter over the crumble, and then top with remaining ⅔ of crumble. Place cake pan on a large baking sheet and transfer to oven.
  • Bake, covering the top with tin foil if necessary to prevent the nuts from burning, until a skewer inserted into the center of the cake comes out nearly clean (the crumbs will still be quite moist), about 85-95 minutes. Let cool at least 15 minutes before running a knife around the perimeter of the pan and removing the ring. Let cool nearly completely on a rack before slicing into wedges and serving! If you’d like, lightly sprinkle with powdered sugar using a fine mesh sieve.

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