Susan’s crumb kuchen coffee cake (placek)

Crumb kuchen cake, or Polish placek.


Makes: 4 loaf cakes
Time: About 5 hours, mostly unattended

My wife Susan’s crumb kuchen coffee cake recipe, a variation on a classic yeast-based Polish placek, from her home neighborhood in Buffalo, New York. In Susan’s family kuchen is a traditional Easter morning treat, with butter from the Malczewski Market butter lamb, and sautéed smoked and fresh kielbasa sausages with horseradish and Weber’s mustard.

You will be making two different batches of bread dough, which you will later combine. Then you’ll mix a crumb topping to add to the rising bread.

For the first (yeast) batch of dough:

  • 2 cups of milk, lukewarm
  • 2 tablespoons of sugar
  • 3 cups of all-purpose flour (We use King Arthur All-purpose flour)
  • 6.75 teaspoons of yeast (3 packages, “active-dry, not instant. We use Red Star Active Dry Yeast)
  • 1.5 cups of butter, softened

For the second dough batch

  • 2 cups of white sugar
  • 6 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 4 cups of all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
  • 2 cups of golden raisins

For the crumb topping:

  • 3 cups plus 4 tablespoons of general-purpose flour
  • 4.5 cups of white sugar
  • 8 tablespoons of shortening, room temperature
  • 16 tablespoons of butter, room temperature

Process

For the first dough batch: In a mixer, combine the lukewarm milk, 2 tablespoons of sugar, 3 cups of flour, and the yeast and mix thoroughly. Set aside for an hour to let the yeast begin to rise.

For the second dough batch: Mix the soft butter and 2 cups of sugar, then add the eggs one at a time, stirring constantly. Add the salt, flour, vanilla, raisins, and mix thoroughly. After an hour rising in the first (yeast) batch, combine the first and second dough batches mix thoroughly, until the combination forms a smooth, elastic dough.

Divide the dough into four parts, and place the dough into 4 greased 5 x 9 x 2.5 inch loaf pans.

Allow the dough to rise until doubled in volume (about an hour), then punch down. Let the dough rise again until it rises to .75 inch below the rim of the loaf pan, or at least double in size.

While the dough is rising for the final time, make the crumb topping from the ingredients listed above. You are aiming for a very dry, buttery, crumbly mix, NOT a batter. Mixing the ingredients by hand will help form the balls of crumble topping. Don’t melt or over-soften the shortening and butter. Break up any clumps of butter or shortening with your fingers if needed.

Pre-heat your oven to 350°F.

Mix all the ingredients for the crumb topping with a folk, until a course crumbly mixture forms. Sprinkle the crumb mixture onto the tops of the fully-risen bread loaves.

Bake for 30-40 minutes at 350°F, until the edges of the loaf tops form a golden brown crust.

The finished crumb kuchen coffee cake loaf (placek).
The finished crumb kuchen coffee cake loaf (placek).
Sliced crumb kuchen coffee cake loaf (placek).
Sliced crumb kuchen coffee cake loaf (placek).

Updated April 3, 2021.

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