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New Jersey Bakes: Recipe for the State's Favorite Breakfast

New Jersey has a sweet tooth, and we begin and end the day at the bakery.

Cupcakes and their exotic French cousins macarons fill Garden State bakery cases, and it’s possible to have a cannoli freshly-piped and dusted with sugar as early as five in the morning. The very special occasion dessert that I knew growing up in Paterson was sheet cake filled with strawberries and cannoli cream. 

Nothing, however, beats a New Jersey favorite breakfast, a raft of doughy yellow cake topped with cinnamon streusel and powdered sugar. Store-bought crumb cake is a Friday-morning staple in every office I’ve ever known, but the real deal is made in a nearby bakery on massive aluminum trays.  It’s sliced into rectangles with a pizza cutter.  Warm hunks of cake are slid onto squares of bakery wax paper then boxed or bagged.

A close second can be made at home, and I’ve tweaked my recipe to resemble bakery-style Garden State crumb cake as much as possible. It makes a good breakfast from ingredients that you’re likely to have on hand. And nothing says New Jersey to me like that telltale dusting of confectioner’s sugar on the driver’s seat of a car. Well, in my car, at least.

Garden State Crumb Cake

Preheat oven to 325. Grease and flour a baking pan larger than 8X8, smaller than a cookie sheet, but it’s your preference how thick to make the cake.


l-1/2 cup flour, 
1/2 cup white sugar, 
2-1/2 teaspoons baking powder, and 
1/2 teaspoon salt. King Arthur flour is ideal; the salt is essential.

Mix together in separate bowl: 
2 eggs, 
l/2 cup milk. Add 
2 tablespoons of melted butter and 
2 teaspoons of vanilla.

Combine the contents of both bowls. Spread batter in the baking pan and let it settle while you make:


Stir together with a fork or by hand: 1 cup soft butter, 
1 cup brown sugar, 
2-1/2 cups flour, and 
1-1/2 teaspoon cinnamon. This will be lumpy and there will be a lot of it.

Spread crumbs on cake batter, pushing some into the batter with your hands.

 Bake cake for 25-30 minutes, keeping a close eye on it. Remove from oven and let the cake cool before sprinkling it generously with confectioners’ sugar. Eat. 


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