Pale Ale Crumb Cake + Loving Craft Beer People

Pale Ale Crumb Cake

Black Raven111

Walking in the bay doors, they all seem to look the same. There are always the mingling smells of hops, malt and fickle high-maintenance yeast hard at work. There’s a brewer in rubber boots nearby, working out a problem behind a furrowed brow. There is inevitably a tank being cleaned, water from a thick hose being sprayer to cleanse the vessel to ready it for the next batch.

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Music played from unseen speakers. Drums and bass melting into the sounds of the equipment, mostly being ignored. I’m always greeted warmly, always welcomed in and offered a beer. In the past year most of my visits to breweries have been to write a story, or take photos. You can make the argument that there are more beautiful subjects than fermenters and bright tanks. You can tell me how shitty the yellow fluorescent light is in a brewery. You could, but I’d tell you how much I want to show you the beauty in what is there.

Black Raven112

Have you seen fresh hops right from the bine? Have you seen the look on a brewers face when sampling wort? Have you seen how gorgeous the color of beer can be? Maybe I’m starry-eyed over the craft beer community, maybe I focus more on what’s right than what’s wrong, but I won’t stop. Maybe it was the years of teaching anger management to gang members in South Central Los Angeles but I’ve learned that people tend to repeat the behavior you focus on. Let the others tear down people, behaviors, and semantics, I’m here as much for the people as I am for the beer. Of course there are changes that can and need to be made, we are, after all, a bunch of humans who drink too much. But let’s do it together. And let’s talk more about what we’re doing right. Because, craft beer, I love you. Flaws and all.

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Have some cake, drink a beer, and let’s talk this out. I won’t stop loving craft beer, and I won’t stop focusing on how much I love the people here and what they are doing right.

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Pale Ale Crumb Cake

Yield: 9 squares

Ingredients

    For the Crumb Topping:
  • 1/3 cup (73g) sugar
  • 1/3 cup (73g) brown sugar
  • 1 tsp (3g) ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp (3g) salt
  • 8 tbs (113g) unsalted butter melted
  • 1 ½ (180g) cups flour
  • 2 tbs (20g) cornstarch
  • For the Cake:
  • 1 cups (120g) all purpose flour
  • 2 tbs (20g) cornstarch
  • ½ cup (117g) sugar
  • ½ tsp (2g) baking soda
  • ½ (3g) teaspoon table salt
  • 6 tbs (83g) unsalted butter, cut in cubes, softened
  • 1 large egg, plus 1 yolk
  • 1/3 (74g) cup pale ale
  • 2 tbs (26g) olive oil
  • 1 tsp (4g) vanilla extract
  • powdered sugar for dusting

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 325.
  2. In a small bowl stir together the sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon, salt and butter. Add the flour and cornstarch, stir to make a soft dough, set aside.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer add the flour, cornstarch, sugar, baking soda and salt. While the mixer is running add the butter mixing until the butter is cut in and the mixture resembles coarse meal with no uncombined lumps of butter.
  4. Add the eggs, yolk, beer, olive oil and vanilla, beat until light and fluffy and well combined.
  5. Line an 8x8 baking pan with parchment paper with the paper hanging over the sides. Pour batter into prepared pan in an even layer.
  6. Crumble the topping and gently sprinkle it over the batter in an even layer. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  7. Allow to cool for ten minutes, remove from pan using the parchment overhang. Cut into squares, sprinkle with powdered sugar.
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16 thoughts on “Pale Ale Crumb Cake + Loving Craft Beer People

  1. I love craft beer and love cooking so it seems natural to marry the two. However, I have often found that what I make with beer comes out bitter – I’m told it’s the bitterness of the hops – I’m not using particularly hoppy beer so I wonder how I can cook with beer and not have it come out bitter — do I go by the IBU and use something below some level of IBU’ness?

    Thanks!

    1. It is the hops that make it bitter. Using a maltier beer, like a Belgian, will help. If you have a recipe that you otherwise like, it’s just a little too bitter, try adding some sweetness, even to a savory recipe. Add some sugar, honey, or maple syrup to balance it out.

  2. I have been a craft beer enthusiast for as long as I can remember and have tried so many different ones from one coast to the other. I’ve always thought that pairing good food with good beer was as essential as wine pairings. Now that I’ve started home brewing beer recently, it’s time to take the plunge and not just pair, but cook with beer too. Thanks for your blog. It’s always a good read and inspiration.

    1. I agree, there are so many more flavors in pair to pair with! Do you have the Beer Pairing book by Julia Herz and Gwen Conley? It’s an awesome resource. I took all the photos (I don’t make any money on sales, so I’m not pushing it for that reason), but even if I hadn’t shot it I’d still think it was one of the best books ever published on the subject.

  3. Just discovered your column/site and am enjoying it thoroughly.
    I was wondering if you would mind commenting on the impact of the beer you are using in your recipes and why you might have chosen that particular style.
    Unfortunately, I have a poorly trained palate and am often unsure of beer characteristics when trying new styles or brands. It does not detract from my overall enjoyment, but I do sometimes wonder when I see people expounding on the fruityness, grassy notes or nuances of currants and hints of stone fruit. I simply have difficulty and sometimes miss these characteristics completely.
    So, I am one of those people that appreciate guidance and direction on what I might be looking for and how it is impacting the recipe. Your comments on why you chose that particular style and what impact it is having would be both welcome and appreciated.
    Thanks for the great site.

    1. Hey James, thanks so much for the question. It really depends on what recipe. There are plenty of recipes where the flavor of the beer comes through nicely, like sorbets, sauces and candies. Beer is also a mild leaving agent. So in this case the beer is being use for the final texture of the cake rather than the flavor. You do get a bit of the beer flavor on the back end but it’s mild. You will lose the more subtle flavors of the hops in this application of cooking with beer. Beer is also a fantastic meat tenderizer, which is why it’s often use in marinades and brines. In that case the ABV is more important than the flavors, although the wrong beer (i.e. too hoppy) can lead to a more bitter final result, but a malty beer will facilitate the millard reaction nicely once the meat is cooked, especially the skin.

  4. This looks delicious! I’m about to make it now, in fact. However, unless I missed it, I don’t see a temperature suggestion for the oven. I’m going to guess 350F, but thought I’d ask. Thanks!

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