Time Travel Kitchen

Crumb Cake and Coffee, for Joan

Joan loved a piece of crumb cake with black coffee in the morning. She’d sometimes have it in the afternoon as a treat, but then it was with a cup of tea.

Last week, my four brothers and I, Joan’s grandchildren, all of our families and dozens of friends said goodbye to her, for now.

Our mother was so loved by so many. She returned that love, and then some. Our father has been gone for over 30 years and now she’s joined him in a peaceful spot on the east end of Long Island.

My mother was born in 1931 of Swedish and German descent and grew up in a German neighborhood of Ridgewood, Queens.

We grew up with knowledge of both lingonberries and Limburger. My mom was a good cook and we were lucky enough to have things like Sauerbraten, Goulash with egg noodles, potato pancakes, and Swedish meatballs as part of the repertoire of our growing-up dinner table.

My mother didn’t bake much. Raising five kids and returning to work full-time when we were all in school didn’t leave time for it. But she frequented the local bakeries, picking up what she knew we liked. There was never a shortage of hard rolls, or crullers or cookies in the house.

If there is one item that always seemed to be on hand, it was crumb cake — the kind she’d had as a child back in Ridgewood. In a pinch, she’d have Entenmann’s boxed cake, but the bakery was her preference and just a block away. She’d walk over a couple of times a week as she’d done for years.

Among the many deliveries of flowers and food that arrived last week was a large, beautifully wrapped cookie platter from her bakery, sent by a friend. We were sitting around my brother Chris’ kitchen table between services when it arrived.

But it wasn’t their traditional cookie assortment. One whole corner was filled with crumb cake — our beloved Joan’s favorite — and our family was once again able to enjoy some, together.

Crumb Coffee Cake Recipe, 1931

This recipe for Crumb Cake is from the 1931 first edition facsimile of The Joy of Cooking by Irma Rombauer and Marion Rombauer Becker.

Many thanks to John Becker and Megan Scott @thejoyofcooking for permission to reprint this original recipe, which is delicious.

Some notes:

  • I baked the crumb cake in a quarter sheet pan (13”x 9” x 1”)

  • Cooking time was 20-25 minutes and I rotated after 10 minutes. As I’ve mentioned before I have a hot/fast oven. And here’s an update: in the middle of baking the crumb cake, I got a call from the very nice building management here that my new stove had arrived. It’s been installed and looks perfectly vintage in this 1927 kitchen and works beautifully.

I’m planning to share some photos of the kitchen in the coming weeks, taken by photographer Hattie Martin.

The next newsletter is out September 3rd and I’m returning to a weekly publishing schedule then. In November and December, I’ll be sending out two newsletters per week, so you’ll have lots of vintage recipes to enjoy for the holidays.

As always, thanks for subscribing and sharing Time Travel Kitchen with others — so appreciated.


baking & photo: Jolene

Sources: The Joy of Cooking, 1931 facsimile first edition, Irma Rombauer and Marion Rombauer Becker, Scribner, an imprint of Simon & Schuster.