Blum’s Coffee Crunch Cake

Blums coffee crunch cake
Blums coffee crunch cake

The City

Blum’s coffee cake is a San Francisco staple, or so I’ve learned. As a Northern California native, going up to ‘The City’ was a regular event for my family and I. Usually, almost every year we’d do a nice full day shopping around, eating around, and drinking around (when we got older of course). The city was filled with international flair, and had several well-known spots of where one must go to get the true San Francisco feel.

Blum’s Bakery

Somehow, Blum’s Bakery escaped us. It wasn’t until recently, while searching for a special cake to make for my son on his 21st birthday, that I discovered it. Spongy, light, the typical chiffon cake is a one of a kind. I happened to stumble upon an old youtube link from an even older Martha Stewart clip, baking alongside Mary Risley, or “Tante Marie“.

Tante Marie

Do a bit of research for this youtube link and watch it. In this short 12 min. episode, I learned a lot from Tante. The cake mix is all done by hand, only using a whisk, while the egg-white/cream mixture is folded gently into the mix. All in an effort to make this cake light, airy and spongy. “Down, up, over” are the words that stuck in my head after watching her mix the batter together with the spatula, a technique that will stick with me from here on out. 

The crunch topping was a first for me. I consider myself a very inexperienced baker.  My knowledge of baking is very limited, but I consider myself a quick learner.  The instructions Tante Marie gives are quite clear, step-by-step and easy to understand.  For making the crunch, they suggest using a candy thermometer.  I don’t have one, and that was ok.

Tante suggests if you don’t have one, wait and watch for the ‘smoke’ to rise from the caramel, and you’ll know it’s time.  The crunch layer, once spread out on a lined baking sheet, dries quickly thus allowing the process to move along quickly and allowing it to break up and crumble well. 

Whip cream frosting

Both Martha and Tante Marie suggest not icing this whip cream frosting until right before serving, as whip cream frosting doesn’t hold together too long.  However, this whip coffee cream frosting is a snap to make. 

For the pan and the baking process, I followed their suggestion of using a fluted bunt cake pan.  The only one I had was in the shape of a heart and way to difficult to deal with for getting the cake out.  I even propped it up on a bottle to cool as they suggested.  Next version, I’ll use 2 standard spring form cake pans.  Thus creating a double layer cake, with icing in the middle and top. 

The presentation is quite lovely and unique.  I was nervous and rushed for time for my first version shown.  I plan to enjoy the second time around a bit more, now that I know what to expect.  The

The Burnt Almond Effect

alternative icing for Blum’s

Dicks bakery was a very special bakery in San Jose which seems to have burned down and is no longer in operation. When we were young, we would often request this Burnt Almond cake for special occasions. It struck me while eating Blum’s coffee crunch that there was a similiarity to the Dick’s. The chiffon cake was the same, light, airy and wonderful. The icing was the main difference. The burnt almond is iced with cream, and finished with candied toasted almonds and powder sugar. I gave it a go, and think I might be nearing the duplication of perhaps one of my favorite cakes ever, the Burnt Almond Cake. (see alternative icing option in recipe)

Enjoy!

Blum’s Coffee Crunch Cake

Blum’s crunch cake is the epitome of a light, airy chiffon cake.  The special crunch topping decorates this cake nicely, thus allowing it to scream, “I’m special”. 
Course 3 Dessert/pudding
Cuisine American
Prep Time 45 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 45 minutes

Ingredients

for the Chiffon cake

  • 2 1/4 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar reserve 3/4 for egg whites
  • 1 TBS baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 6 large eggs separaged
  • 1 zest lemon
  • 1 tbs vanilla

for the Coffee Crunch

  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/4 cup strong brewed coffee
  • 1/4 cup agave
  • 1 TBS baking soda

for the Coffee Frosting

  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup strong brewed coffee
  • 3 TBS fine sugar

For the Burnt Almond Frosting

  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 2 TBS sugar for cream
  • 2 packs slivered almonds roughly 2+ cups
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 2 TBS sugar for nuts
  • powder sugar for top

Instructions

for the Chiffon cake

  • combine all the dry ingredients, set aside
  • combine the wet ingredients, and combine together with a whisk, but only quickly, don’t over whisk. 
  • combine wet with dry
  • whip egg whites and sugar until stiff peaks form, and it’s nice and shiny
  • now, gently fold the white peaks, into the batter only by using a spatula
  • follow the mantra, “down, left, over” and keep the bowl turning while you are gently folding the mixture together.
  • pour mixture in baking pan, then bake @ 325 Fahrenheit for 1 hour. 
    Take out of oven, and find a fluted bottle to stand the pan on, so that it cools. 

for Coffee Crunch

  • in a small sauce pan, combine the ingredients, except the baking soda.  stir over heat until sugar is dissolved.  turn up to high until your candy thermometer registers 310 degrees, or when it begins to boil you’ll see smoke rising.  then it’s done.  Add the baking soda.  Then pour mixture onto a paper lined cooking sheet, and let cool.  When it’s cooled, break up in to chunks and put aside until ready to add to the cake. 

for the Coffee Frosting

  • in a bowl of an electric mixer, whip the cream until stiff peaks form.  add coffee and sugar, beat until combined, then frost immediately.  Top with coffee crunch  and serve
    blums coffee crunch cake

For Burnt Almond Frosting

  • combine almonds with water and sugar.
    Put on baking sheet and roast for 15 min, until almonds are toasted and a bit dark.  Take out, cool. 
  • whip the cream until soft peaks are formed, add sugar. then ice the cake. 
  • Top with nuts and sprinkle with powder sugar
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