Ever have one of those mornings where it is so quiet that you absolutely go out of your mind? Me either. I often wonder what that would be like. Sometimes I dream about it–fantasize, even. My Peanut has other plans, she is the Brooklyn version of a rooster. Her internal clock must’ve been designed by Swiss watchmakers. I think they gave her a bullhorn, too. Is there anything quite so loud as a child’s shriek at 6am? I’m thinking not.
Fortunately, the shrieks are accompanied by uproarious laughter, and she’s remarkably cute. She wakes up, laughs, and wants a banana and milk. It’s as though her mother is a marathoner and she’s learned how to fuel for her morning dances around the house…weird.
When she settles enough to eat real food, we often head to the bagel shop down the block, because A:we’re STILL trying to keep weight on her (nothing wrong with her, she is just a naturally skinny, perpetual-motion machine.) and B:After dropping the Captain off at prek, a whole grain bagel, scooped out with a pb schmear is just lovely.
Pretty much every single time we go to said shop, the Peanut points and waves and begs for a slice of the ubiquitous NY style crumb cake. It’s the cake that every single Brooklyn bakery and bagel shop make. I have seen people go in and come out with several sheets of the crumbly goodness like a Texan might roll out with a tray of breakfast tacos. It’s the cake that’s as firmly entrenched in our culture as bagels, pizza, cheesecake, and attitude. (I promise, we’re really nice once you get to know us! Though, that might just be me trying to make myself feel better.)
I only ever see 4 varieties of this cake: plain, blueberry, chocolate chip, and apple. They’re all very good, and I’ll happily nom on any of them, but come on! We’re NYers. We’re so much more innovative than that!
That’s why when Hellmann’s contacted me about their 100 year anniversary celebration, asking me to re-create one of the AWESOME classic Hellmann’s recipes that one of my all-time favorite NYC chefs, Mario Batali had re-imagined, I knew it had to be a crumb cake. I took one look at the recipe for Mario Batalli’s classic chocolate birthday cake , and knew that was it. I could take this spectacular base recipe, tweak it, and make it something completely Brooklyn, and completely my own. What’s even more awesome is that YOU can do it too! Hellmann’s is holding a contest online ( here ) Wherein you re-create one of Mario’s recipes for yourself, in attempt to garner votes on FB!! The winner will be flown to NYC, and get to attend Hellmann’s 100th Birthday celebration!! (I’ll be there, so, you know, you can judge for yourself if I’m friendly or not..I so am)
Here’s my take on Mario Batalli’s classic Hellmann’s chocolate Birthday cake.
For the cake base, adapted from Mario Batali’s classic birthday cake
1/2 cup DARK cocoa powder
1/2 cup STEAMING hot ESPRESSO (not coffee..use can use instant)
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
2 tbsp powdered instant espresso
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1 cup Hellmann’s Mayonnaise (NOT low fat, please)
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups chocolate chips (because, reasons)
for the crumb
Preheat oven to 350F
for the crumb
mix all ingredients together by hand-you can do it, I have faith in you.
for the cake
sift together dry ingredients, save the chocolate chips and set aside
in another bowl, take some of the dry mix and toss it with the chocolate chips (so they don’t all end up at the bottom of the cake)
using a mixer on high,
beat together the sugar and the espresso, and the powdered espresso
add in the mayo, vanilla and salt
turn the mixer to medium
beat in eggs one at a time
set mixer to low and slowly add dry ingredients
stir in chips by hand
to put together
take a well sprayed/greased and floured 13″-9″-2″ baking dish
pour in batter
crumble crumb evenly over the top
place in the middle rack of the oven
bake for 35-40 minutes or until a skewer inserted through the cake (you’ll have to go in from a far edge under the crumb) comes out clean. (if you go through the crumb, it never will come out clean)