This recipe for the most delicious crumb cake comes from my friend Sevinj in Baku. She learned how to make it from a cooking show back in Azerbaijan hosted by Shirin, a baker. Since the cake didn’t have a name and Sevinj wrote that the cake was super fragile, I called it fragile and this is exactly how the texture of the cake is. The filling has farmer cheese in it, but ricotta cheese is a great substitute. It is super easy to make and is absolutely delicious, and yes, it is fragile, so handle with care.
Crumb Cake “Fragile”
7 oz (200 g) unsalted butter, cold
1/2 teaspoon baking soda (bicarbonate of soda)
1/2 tablespoon plain yogurt or sour cream
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar
14 oz (400 g) unsalted farmer cheese or ricotta cheese
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract or a pinch of vanillin powder
First, prepare the dough. Using the coarse side of a box grater, grate the butter into a mixing bowl.
In a small cup, dissolve the baking soda in plain yogurt or sour cream and add to the mixing bowl with butter. Add the flour and sugar to the same bowl. Using a fork, gently cut the mixture, until you obtain crumbles a size of chickpeas (do not use a mixer!). Set aside.
Now, prepare the filling. In a mixing bowl, combine all the ingredients for the filling and stir with a spoon until well blended.
Lightly grease the bottom and the sides of a 8 x 11-inch (20 x 28-cm) baking pan (I use Pyrex dish).
Preheat the oven to 350ºF (180ºC).
Divide the dough into half. Spread half of the dough on the bottom of the pan. Do not press.
Spread the filling evenly over the bottom crust.
Sprinkle the remaining dough over the filling, again, without pressing.
Bake on the middle rack of the oven for 30 minutes, or until light golden on top.
Remove from the oven and let cool for in the pan about 15 minutes, then cut into squares. Let cool completely before serving.