It’s ironic that outside of New Jersey and New York, Crumb Buns are not well known. Crumb buns and crumb cake are very similar but not the same. Crumb buns are more crumb topping and a little less cake. And let’s face it, the best part of the crumb cake is the crumb topping so why not just eat a crumb bun.
The recipe I posted here is not exactly the same one I used but it is very good. The recipe I use has an ingredient that is hard to get and expensive and many of the readers here may not want to pay a lot of money to buy the item in bulk just to use a small amount of it.
Make sure you have a good portion of the day available to make these as it has yeast in it and the dough will have to rise not once but twice. These can be made a day in advance. I have seen recipes online that show how to make a “quick” crumb bun but they use store bought boxed cake mix aka Duncan Hines and if you don’t know how I feel about those mixes, read here Cake Baked From Scratch or From A Boxed Mix?
You will need two recipes :
1. Basic Yeast Dough
2. Crumb Topping
You will also need an additional 2 tablespoons melted butter and confectioner’s sugar for dusting the tops
Basic Yeast Dough
Makes 14 buns
1/2 cup warm water (95 to 105 degrees. Use a thermometer because if it is too hot, the yeast will not bubble).
2 1/4 teaspoons or 1 package granulated active dry yeast
1/4 cup plus 1 teaspoon sugar
3/4 cup whole milk
4 tablespoons butter, cut into pieces, plus additional for the bowl
3 large eggs, room temperature
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 1/2 to 4 cups all purpose flour, plus additional for the work surface
1 cup cake flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
Place the water in a large bowl, sprinkle with the yeast and 1 teaspoon of the sugar and stir until the yeast dissolves. Set aside until some foam and a few bubbles form on top, about 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a small saucepan over low heat, heat the milk and butter until the butter melts and the milk is warm but not hot (the liquid should be 95 to 100 degrees). Use a thermometer to make sure is not too hot. Remove from the heat.
To the yeast mixture, add the warm milk mixture, eggs, lemon zest and vanilla and mix to combine. Add 1 cup of all purpose flour, the cake flour, the remaining 1/4 cup sugar and salt and with an electric mixer on low speed, beat until smooth and well blended. Add 2 cups of the remaining all-purpose flour and blend it into the dough. Using a wooden spoon, add the remaining flour in 1/4 cup increments until the dough forms a smooth, soft, but not sticky, ball that comes away from the sides of the bowl. If it’s too sticky add more flour 1/4 cup at a time.
Transfer the dough to a buttered bowl and rub the top of the dough with butter to coat. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set aside in a warm place to rise until the dough is almost double in size, about 1 hours. Using your fist, punch the dough down to deflate.
While the dough is rising, make the crumb topping
10 tablespoons unsalted butter or margarine, at room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
In a large bowl with an electric mixer on low speed, beat the butter, granulated and brown sugars, salt and vanilla until the mixture is thoroughly combined, about 1 minute. Add the flour, sprinkle the cinnamon over the top and combine until the mixture forms crumbs. Set aside.
After deflating the dough, divide it into 2 equal portions. Cover the unused portion with plastic wrap or a towel.
On a lightly floured surface, roll one portion of the dough until it measures about 1/4 inch thick and forms a rectangle about 8 by 14 inches. The long side of the dough should be closest to you and parallel to the edge of the counter. Brush the dough lightly with some of the melted butter. Sprinkle about 3/4 cup of the crumb mixture evenly over the dough.
Starting at the long side farthest from you, fold 1/3 of the dough over onto itself. Brush this plain top 1/3 of the dough lightly with melted butter.
Fold the double layer of dough onto itself again to cover the remaining 1/3 of the dough closest to you.
You should have a three layered strip of dough that is 14 inches long and about 2 1/2 inches wide. Press gently on the dough so the layers adhere to each other and pinch all of the edges together tightly to seal. Cut the rectangles into 7 portions, each about 2 inches wide.
Repeat with the remaining portion of the dough.
Generously butter a 13 by 9 by 2 inch baking pan. Place the buns 1/2 inch apart in the prepared pan. Brush the top of each bun lightly with the remaining melted butter. Sprinkle the remaining crumbs over the buns, letting some fall between the buns and pressing the crumbs gently into the top of the buns.
Cover with plastic wrap and set aside in a warm place to rise for about 30 minutes, until the dough looks slightly puffy. The buns should not be touching.
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Remove the plastic wrap from the buns and bake them for about 40 minutes until the tops are golden and the crumbs are firm.
The baked buns should have spread into 1 large pull apart pan of buns. Transfer the pan to a wire rack to cool for 10 minutes. Then, using a small sharp knife to loosen the buns from the sides of the pan, carefully lift the buns from the pan in sections, so as not to disturb the crumbs. Serve warm or transfer to wire rack to cool completely. Just prior to serving, dust with confectioners’ sugar. To freshen day old buns, wrap them in aluminum foil and heat in a 300 degree oven until warm.)