Blum's Coffee Crunch Cake
I just came upon this recipe through a west coast facebook friend, and I seem to remember having had this in SF when I visited there the first time. At any rate, sounds delicious!
1 1/4 cups cake flour, sifted
1 1/2 cups sugar, divided use
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 egg yolks
1/4 cup water
1 cup ( 7 to 8) large egg whites
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
Coffee crunch topping
Unflavored vegetable oil
1 tablespoon baking soda, sifted
1/4 cup strong brewed coffee
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 cup light corn syrup
2 cups heavy cream
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
FOR THE CAKE
Put the rack in lower third of oven, and then preheat to 350 degrees.
Sift the flour, 3/4 cup of the sugar and the salt together and set aside.
Using an electric mixer, beat the egg yolks with 1/4 cup of the sugar until the mixture is thick and pale in color. Add the water and continue to beat until thickened, about 4 minutes. Whisk the egg whites in with the mixer using another bowl until frothy. Add the cream of tartar and continue to whisk until soft peaks form. Add the remaining 1/2 cup sugar in a steady stream, whisking until thicker, stiffer, glossy peaks form, about 2 to 3 minutes. Whisk in the vanilla, lemon juice and lemon zest.
Mix a bit if the yoke mixture into the beaten egg whites then fold the yolk mixture into the whites with a rubber spatula. Sprinkle a third of the flour mixture over the surface of the egg white mixture, and fold in gently with the rubber spatula. Repeat 2 more times until the ingredients are just incorporated. Do not over mix. Gently pour batter into an ungreased 10-inch round tube pan with removable bottom (like an angel food pan). Level the surface with the rubber spatula.
Bake for 50 to 55 minutes or until the top springs back slightly when lightly touched, and sounds spongy. Remove the cake from the oven and invert the pan over a long-necked bottle to cool for about 45 minutes. Remove the cake from the pan, by carefully slipping a flexible metal spatula down one side of the pan and slowly trace the perimeter to release the cake. When the sides are free, push up on the removable bottom to release the cake completely. Tilt the cake, with the bottom still attached, and gently tap the bottom against the counter to loosen the cake. Rotate the cake, tapping a few more times, until it appears free. Cover the cake with a rack and invert, remove the bottom of pan. Let cool to room temperature.
COFFEE CRUNCH TOPPING
Generously oil a large baking sheet. Sift the baking soda into a bowl. Combine the coffee, sugar and corn syrup in a DEEP and heavy 4-quart saucepan. Place over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until the sugar dissolves. When the mixture is clear and it begins to boil, increase the heat to medium-high and cook until the mixture reaches 290 degrees on candy thermometer. Toward the end of cooking, around 270 to 280 degrees, stir occasionally to prevent the mixture from scorching and becoming too foamy.
Remove from heat and stir in baking soda. The mixture will foam up fiercely. While mixture is still foaming, pour it out onto the oiled baking sheet. Do not spread, just let it cool undisturbed for at least 1 hour.
Break or crush into very small pieces by placing between 2 sheets of wax paper and tapping or rolling with rolling pin. Store in airtight container.
Combine cream, sugar and vanilla in a bowl and beat until the cream holds soft peaks.
Slice the cooled cake into 3 equal layers using a serrated knife. Spread whipped cream between each layer, carefully stacking the layers. Spread the remaining whipped cream over the top and sides of the cake. Refrigerate. Just before serving, generously sprinkle top and sides with coffee crunch.
A tribute to the beloved Ernest Weil, the creator of the Coffee Crunch Cake:
His "Love to Bake" cookbook is available as a downloadable PDF file to benefit Bay Area non-profit services for children and youth:
Ohhhh the memories you've brought back to me, I owe you my firstborn son for this recipe. Blums is a part of my long-lost childhood; I can remember my mother carrying the coffee crunch cake home from San Francisco on every trip. We lived in the Los Angeles area and this cake was only available in San Franciso and always came from the Union Square Blums. She went north to shop (Maiden Lane had wonderful stores and the I.Magnin was superior to its southern cousin) and would return with gorgeous new clothes but I only had eyes for the cake. Thank you, roxlet. You know not what you've wrought.
Actually, there used to be a Blum's in Beverly Hills that had the cake (read about that in "Lost Desserts"). Valerie Confections in LA now makes Blum's Coffee Crunch Cake, along with some other "lost desserts" like Chasen's Banana Shortcake and the Brown Derby Grapefruit Cake:
Blum's. Coffee. Crunch. Cake. You just sent me into a world-changing nostalgic place. I wasn't even thinking about baking today, but the weather here has turned yet again, and now I HAVE to. Mr. has never had it (deprived childhood, and all that.) And I can take the rest over to the nurses at UCSF who are taking real good care of #1 son.