I was guilty of irrational exuberance when it came to ordering rye flour. I had thought that I would be baking LOTS of rye bread. Unfortunately this decision was made before reading the recipes and realizing what making a great rye bread entailed. Consider me chastened. But now what to do with all of this wonderful dark rye flour? So I have been scouring the internet and found this Rye Chocolate Crumb Cake for starters. I also found some rye chocolate cookies that I want to try – another time.
Really, how outlandish is the idea of using rye flour with chocolate? The best dark breads or pumpernickel recipes that I have all use cocoa as a counterpoint to the rye flour. But as a dessert? I was intrigued.
Not being into sickeningly sweet desserts, I liked this recipe immediately. And while normally I shy away from any recipe that requires the use of multiple bowls, I made an exception here. Am I glad that I did. While the initial recipe gave espresso powder as an optional ingredient, I would make it essential. In fact, I would probably use more than the suggested amounts next time. A long time ago, I learned that adding coffee to any chocolate recipe enhances the dark chocolatiness. The rye flour lends a deep malted flavor to the chocolate. And the flavors only intensified over time.
This Rye Chocolate Crumb Cake does not have a fancy presentation. It’s meant to be served straight out of the pan. But give me deliciousness over fancy presentations any day of the week. And honestly, isn’t there a certain homely beauty to the simplicity of this cake? The French even have a term for this – jolie laide. Beautiful ugly – character. The bumpy chocolatey, malty crumb on top of a moist chocolate cake – yummmmmmmmmmmmmmmm. That to me is jolie laide at its best!
And yes, I did use a number of bowls but clean-up was very fast even without using a dishwasher. This lovely, moist, densely malted chocolate cake will keep for several days stored at room temperature. Assuming, of course, that it manages to last that long. While this is technically a coffee cake, I am happy to serve it as a delicious dessert anytime. Or for breakfast. Why not?
Rye flour comes in different degrees – light, medium and dark. Whenever given options like that e.g. dark brown vs. light brown sugar; dark, full-flavored molasses vs. light, I invariably go for the darker variety. And so I did here. I only bought dark rye and so that is what I used. The original recipe called for medium rye. Go with what you have.
I used sour cream because I had it and it makes for a lovely, moist cake, but you could substitute yogurt (whole milk or 2%) if that is what you have on hand instead. Whatever you do, do not cheap out on the cocoa. In fact NEVER EVER buy anything but top quality Dutch-process cocoa. Just don’t.
Serve this Rye Chocolate Crumb Cake as is or with a dollop of good vanilla ice cream or homemade whipped cream. You simply can’t go wrong.
NOTE: I give both weights and measurements. In the past year, I have become accustomed to weighing out my ingredients when given that choice in the recipe. I find that it is more accurate and once you get used to doing it, you will find it quite simple. However, knowing that Americans in particular use measurements, I have included those as well. When weighing flour, spoon the flour without packing it and sweep off any excess.
For other Coffee Cake Recipes:
Yield: 6 to 9 pieces
1/4 cup (27g) rye flour (I used dark but medium is fine too)
1/2 cup (60g) unbleached all-purpose flour
1/3 cup (66g) granulated sugar
3 T (16g) Dutch-process cocoa
1/4 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
1/4 teaspoon espresso powder (or instant espresso)
4 T (57g) unsalted butter, melted
1 cup (106g) rye flour
1/2 cup (60g) unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup (42g) Dutch-process cocoa
3/4 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon espresso powder (or instant espresso)
4 T (57g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/4 cup (50g) neutral vegetable oil (I used Canola)
1 cup (198g) granulated sugar
1 T pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs at room temperature
3/4 cup (170g) full-fat sour cream or Greek-style yogurt
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease an 8-inch square pan
For the topping
Whisk together the flours in a small bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together the sugar, cocoa, salt and espresso powder. Pour the melted butter over the sugar mixture and stir until smooth. Add the flour to this mixture and stir until uniformly moist. (In full disclosure, I had added my cocoa into my flour mixture instead of with the sugar. As far as I can tell, it made no difference.) Set aside until ready to use.
For the cake
Whisk together the flours, cocoa, salt, baking powder, baking soda and espresso powder and set aside.
In the bowl of a standing mixer (you could use a hand mixer as well), beat the butter, oil, sugar and vanilla until smooth, light colored and fluffy on medium speed. This takes about 5 minutes.
Add the eggs one at a time, beating well and scraping down the sides of the bowl.
Add one-third of the flour mixture and beat gently to combine. Mix in 1/2 of the sour cream. Then add the next third of the dry mixture and combine. Add the final 1/2 of the sour cream and mix through. Then add the remaining third of the dry ingredients. Scrape down the bowl and beat until the batter is smooth and everything is fully incoporated.
Spread the batter into the prepared pan and crumble the topping all over. Gently press the topping into the batter.
Bake 36 to 46 minutes (all ovens vary but it is ready when a toothpick just comes out clean). Do not over-bake the cake.
Allow to cool completely and then dust the top with confectioner’s (icing) sugar. Serve from the pan.