Is there anything tastier than a coffee cake? I think for most people the answer would be a resounding “no.” Considering the fact that it’s something perfectly acceptable to serve at the breakfast/brunch hour, I feel this only adds to its tasty allure. And the other great thing about a coffee cake? No two are alike; there’s always that one special ingredient that sets it apart from other coffee cakes you’ve tried. And for the Butter Crumble Cake or Putterkuchen as it’s known in Polish, it would be the addition of the zest of two oranges.
Although there are a slew of recipes I look forward to trying from the cookbook, King Solomon’s Table: A Culinary Exploration of Jewish Cooking from Around the World, I started with a sweet one. The name, as the recipe notes, is a Polish corruption of Butterkuchenm, a “German butter cake served mostly for tea.” I found it fascinating to read that the original recipe came from a French cookbook entitled La Cuisine de Nos Grand-mères Juives Polonaises (The Cooking of Our Polish Grandmothers). As I’m currently binge-watching season 2 of the French television series Un Village Français (A French Village) it seemed only fitting to try this since there are many connections between the French/Jewish aspects of the cookbook and the series.
As you would suspect from its name, the recipe uses a ton of butter. However, the tradeoff is that not too much sugar is used. It’s sweet, but not overly so. And of course, the inclusion of orange zest gives it its own unique sweetness. My favorite part of a coffee cake is of course the delectable crumble topping (am I a terrible person if I admit I could and would totally snack on crumble alone?)
I look forward to trying more recipes in the coming months but Putterkuchen was a perfect introduction to this absolutely wonderful cookbook.
Putterkuchen (Butter Crumble Cake)
Recipe courtesy of King Solomon’s Table: A Culinary Exploration of
Jewish Cooking from Around the World by Joan Nathan
1 tablespoon active dry yeast
2 tablespoons plus 1/2 cup sugar
2/3 cup milk
2 large eggs
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
Zest of 2 oranges
1/2 teaspoon salt
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/3 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut in chunks
- In a bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, dissolve the yeast and 2 tablespoons of sugar in the milk. Let sit for a few minutes, then stir in the eggs. Add the flour, remaining 1/2 cup sugar, orange zest, and salt, stirring on low until just combined. With the motor running, drop in the chunks of butter until they are well incorporated. Cover the bowl with a towel and let rise in a warm spot for about an hour. The dough will not double in size.
- Make the crumble by mixing the flour, sugar, cardamom, cinnamon, and butter with your fingers. Put in a small bowl and refrigerate until ready to bake.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and grease an 8-inch springform pan or glass pie plate. Spoon the cake batter into the pan, smoothing it down with a spatula, then sprinkle the crumble over the top. Bake for 30 minutes or until the cake is set and golden on the edges. Serve as a coffee cake.
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