I had never had it, Blum’s Crunch Coffee Cake, but it appeared in my feed in December 2017 and then appeared in Sunset Magazine in December 2018. What is this cake that everyone seems to craving?
Blum’s was a pastry shop located in the Bay Area. Most notably its flagship was situated in Union Square, in the days when a shopping trip was special. It usually meant getting dressed up and was finished with a treat in the form of a special luncheon place.
Blum’s started as candy shop and was passed down through a couple of generations until Jack Levy was at the helm. He realized that they were selling “the same old candy” they had for decades. He challenged his candy makers to make a new candy every day to find “the next great thing.”. One day a candy maker over boiled what was to be a soft coffee candy, like a taffy, and it was too hard. Rather than throw it away, the baker crushed the “useless” candy and used it to decorate a chiffon cake. An icon was born!
Since then people have been clamoring to get the recipe; the flavor and textures evoke memories for so many. Martha Stewart published a well respected version on her website and Valerie Gordon, of Valerie’s Confections, has a very popular version on her menus in Los Angeles.
As I said above, I have never had the cake. Here is my adapted version of a recipe that was published on Tasting Table in December 2017.
I made a few adjustments, with all respect, to the recipe.
1- I didn’t have Cream of Tartar, so I added 1 Tbs. vinegar instead.
2-While I did use light corn syrup, in this recipe. I prefer not to. An easy substitution is dissolve 1 1/2 cups sugar in 1/4 cup hot water. and then measure out what you need accordingly. Please remember this is now almost 4 cups of sugar in just the candy. You can also use Lyle’s Golden Syrup (Treacle). I found it on Amazon very easily.
3- When preparing your pan, I suggest make an elevated rim with parchment paper. The cake batter rises quite nicely and this will help keep that height.
4- Once you pour the batter into your prepared pan, gently run a sharp knife through it to remove any large air pockets.
5- When making the candy, if you have them wear oven mitts. The mixture gets quite hot. Remember the temperatures in the recipe matter.
I hope it brings back great memories for you. Please share your comments below when you make it!
Preheat oven to 350° and position rack in middle of oven.
Prepare a 9" springform pan with nonstick baking spray.
Cut a 3" wide strip, long enough to go around pan. Tape it on the side away from cake.
Sift together flour, 3/4 cup sugar, and salt into a medium bowl and set aside.
In the bowl of a stand up mixer, fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the yolks and 1/4 cup sugar until thick and pale yellow. Add in the water, oil and vanilla and mix well.
If you don't have an extra bowl and whisk for mixer, transfer the yolk mixture to another bowl and clean well the bowl and whisk.
Back in the stand up mixer, clean bowl, start beating egg whites. When just frothy , add vinegar to enhance volume and beat until soft peaks. Add remaining 1/2 cup sugar and beat until stiff shiny peaks form. Add lemon zest and lemon juice and beat briefly until just combined.
Use a rubber spatula and stir about a 1/4 cup of egg whites in to yolk mixture. Then fold yolk mixture into remaining egg whites. Gradually fold dry ingredients into egg mixture, in thirds, until fully incorporated.
Pour batter into prepared pan rimmed with parchment paper. Draw a knife, gently, through the batter to release air bubbles.
Bake for 55 minutes to an hour until golden brown and toothpick comes out clean.
Let cake cool completely on cooling rack, at least 45 minutes. Do not skip this step or the cake may tear or deflate.
Run a knife between the sides of the cake and pan, then release springform pan. Run a knife between cake and bottom and wrap cake in plastic wrap, until ready to to assemble.
Heavily coat a 13x18 rimmed cookie sheet with non-stick spray and set aside.
Measure the baking soda into small dish and set by stove with a whisk.
Using an accurate candy thermometer, add sugar, coffee and corn syrup to a heavy 6 quart pot and cook over a medium heat, (I recommend wearing oven mitts. It will get very hot.) stirring occasionally with a silicone spatula until the thermometer reaches 270°. The temperatures are important for the candy to have the correct texture. This can take up to 10 minutes.
When the candy thermometer reaches 270°, increase to high heat and stir constantly until the temperature reaches 305°. Remove from heat and quickly whisk in the baking soda. The candy will start to expand and get airy very fast. Watch closely, when it starts to fill light and the color lightens up, pour it , as evenly as possible, onto baking sheet. Allow the candy to cool completely for 30 minutes. Do not to touch it.
I used a rolling pin to chop up the candy into quarter sized pieces. You can also put it on a cutting board and use a heavy knife to cut it. The candy can be made up to 2 weeks ahead of time and stored in an airtight jar. It would never last that long in my house.
Coffee Whipped Cream
In a large mixing bowl whip to a medium peak the cold heavy cream, sugar, vanilla and coffee. Hold in refrigerator until ready to use.
To Assemble Cake
Place the cake on a turn table or cake stand and cut in half horizontally in half.
Cover the bottom half with 1/3 of the whipped cream and sprinkle about 1 cup of the candy crunch on top. Place the other half of cake on top and slather remaining whipped cream all over top and sides of cake. Gently press crunch candy all over the top and sides of cake. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
You can make the cake a day or two ahead of time. If this is the case don't add candy to top and sides until just ready to serve, or it will start to melt and not be as crunchy.