A Good Appetite: A Tart Solution for Sweet Crumb Cake


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The addition of grapefruit pulls crumb cake back from the brink of cloying sweetness.

Credit
Andrew Scrivani for The New York Times

With easy-to-peel satsumas, seedless clementines and scarlet blood oranges all available to satisfy citrus yearnings, it can be hard to remember to give grapefruits their due.

Even when I do think to buy them, they often languish. Their vast size requires you either to commit or to share, and they’re not the kind of thing you’d casually toss into your bag on the way out the door. Grapefruits can also be somewhat bitter, which may turn off people accustomed to honey-sweet tangerines.

But dessert is different. That’s when the acidity and bitterness of grapefruit is precisely what makes it so appealing, especially in confections that lean cloying. Like crumb cake.

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Almonds add a bit of crunch to the topping.

Credit
Andrew Scrivani for The New York Times

With its mound of brown sugar nuggets blanketing a moist, sour cream-enriched cake, crumb cake often walks the line between decadent and overkill. But adding grapefruit segments on top of the batter pulls it back from the sugary abyss, each bite releasing a burst of bracing, tangy juice

Before adding the fruit segments, you have to remove the membranes that surround them, which interfere with flavor and texture. (This technique is known as supreming the fruit.) Once the membranes are removed, the segments will fall apart, and that’s perfectly fine. You’re aiming for a scattering of the pulp, each tiny juice vesicle remaining distinct until it hits your teeth.

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