This recipe is adapted from one that graced the cover of an old Starbucks cookbook from the mid-90s that came into my possession so long ago that I don’t remember how I got it. A few things stood out to me about the recipe, which is why so many years later, I came back to it. First, the nontraditional streusel made from graham cracker crumbs makes an instantly crunchy yet light crust and filling, very different than the dense New York style coffee cakes that I find around my neighborhood. Second, I believe pre-pastry school, this is the first time I encountered the reverse creaming method without knowing it. The butter is incorporated into the dry mixture instead of creamed with the sugar, which helps keep the cake very tender. If you don’t have cinnamon graham crackers, you can just use regular or honey grahams and increase the cinnamon to one teaspoon or play around with your favorite warm spices!
Makes one 9-inch cake, serves 10 – 12
Graham Cracker Streusel
- 1 ½ cups (127 grams) cinnamon graham cracker crumbs
- ¾ cup (88 grams) finely chopped walnuts
- ¾ cup (162 grams) brown sugar
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon ground cardamom
- 8 tablespoons (113 grams) unsalted butter, melted
- 2 cups (228 grams) cake flour
- 1 cup (198 grams) granulated sugar
- 2 ½ teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 8 tablespoons (113 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 2 large eggs (100 grams)
- 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 cup (240 grams) milk
Make the Streusel:
- In a medium bowl, combine the graham crackers, walnuts, brown sugar, cinnamon and cardamom. Pour the melted butter over the mixture and mix until well combined. Set aside.
Make the Cake:
- Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Grease and flour a 9-inch spring form pan and set aside.
- In a bowl fitted for an electric mixer, add the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt, stirring on low with the paddle attachment to combine.
- Add the butter and mix on medium-low until the mixture resembles coarse sand.
- In a separate bowl, add the eggs, vanilla and milk, whisking to combine and then add all at once to the flour mixture. Mix on medium speed until a smooth, even batter forms, about two minutes.
- Spread half of the cake batter in the prepared pan, then sprinkle with half of the streusel.
- Spoon the remaining batter into the pan, spreading as evenly as possible and then sprinkle wit the balance of streusel.
- Bake for 60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Remove and cool on a wire rack for about 20 minutes before unmolding. Cool completely before serving. Cake can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.