Sometimes there is no story. Sometimes it's Saturday and you just want to make a cake. So it was last weekend. I'd had this bookmarked for a while because I love any cake with sour cream in it, Melissa Clark is reliably good and this recipe is made for these times - infinitely adaptable to whatever you happen to have on hand. So I guess I do have a story after all. Especially as friends spontaneously dropped by - as we now have the privilege to do in Sydney in small numbers - and we all had cake together. It was sunny. It was Saturday. It was glorious.
Pantry crumb cake
Adapted from a recipe by Melissa Clark, as published in The New York Times
You can use any combination of the below that suits you. I went for frozen blueberries and cardamom and they worked beautifully. Should you live somewhere you can't yet have visitors or live alone and don't trust yourself with an entire cake, know that you can freeze individual pieces so that cake is on hand anytime. Just a moment in the microwave or an hour sitting out on a bench top and your morning coffee is monumentally better.
For the topping:
½ cup/110g packed light or dark brown sugar
¼ cup/55g unsalted butter, melted
¼ cup/30g flour
¼ cup/20g rolled oats
1 tsp ground spices (cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, nutmeg or a combination)
½ tsp sea salt
For the cake:
1 ½ cups/190g flour1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon bicarb (baking) soda
½ teaspoon sea salt
½ cup/115g unsalted butter, at room temperature
½ cup/100g sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
⅔ cup/160ml sour cream, yoghurt or nondairy yoghurt, buttermilk, crème fraîche, or milk acidified with 1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tsp grated lemon or orange zest (optional)
½ cup fresh, frozen and thawed, or canned fruit, such as blueberries, raspberries, cherries, grated apple or pear, chopped pineapple (optional)
Preheat oven to 180 deg C / 350 deg F.
Grease and line an 8 or 9 inch (20-22cm) square tin.
Combine topping ingredients in a medium-size bowl. With your fingers or a rubber spatula, squish mixture into clumps - some small, some large.
Mix all your dry ingredients - flour, baking powder, bicarb, and salt - together in another medium bowl.
In a food processor or stand mixer, or indeed just by hand, cream butter and sugar til light and fluffy, just one or two minutes. Beat in the eggs, one at a time - making sure the first is fully incorporated before adding the next - then add the vanilla extract. Add half the dry ingredients, then beat in the sour cream, followed by the remaining flour mixture. Use a rubber spatula to scrape down the sides of the bowl, then to gently fold in the fruit and zest, if using. Pour the batter into the prepared tin and top evenly with the crumbs.
Bake for 45-55 minutes or until a toothpick/skewer/sharp knife inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean. Let cake cool in tin and cut into squares to serve.