Have you had New Jersey-style crumb cake? If you’re not from the Northeast it’s likely you haven’t, but once you do you may find that the standard issue crumb cake you’ve always enjoyed just doesn’t do it for you anymore. What makes the Jersey edition unique is how the crumb cake concept is turned on its head. It’s all about the crumbs. Oh, there’s cake, but the half-inch of pastry supports four times its height in sweet crumbs! It truly is the ultimate.
Many northern New Jerseyans look to the B & W Bakery to satisfy their crumb cake cravings. While some Jersey cakes use a pound cake-like base, B & W’s “heavy crumb cake” (their words) is built upon a lightly sweet yeasted pastry, like a Danish. The waist-deep pile of large crumbs, some crunchy and others soft, that sits atop the cake are not cloyingly sweet, though plenty sweet enough. This is a crumb cake that just cries out for a pot of coffee and a lazy morning.
Crumb cake is not all. Doughnuts are modest in variety but not in quality. The old-fashioned cruller is actually a plain doughnut, not what we think of as a cruller. The faintly crisp shell contains barely sweet pastry with a gentle flavor that never pales, and has none of the astringency of poorly-made chain doughnuts. The Boston cream is a tour de force yeasted doughnut filled with cool pastry cream and blanketed with dark, thick chocolate, while the iced crullers are true crullers, like sweetened eggy popovers twisted into a circle, topped with sweet chocolate or vanilla icing.
B & W can be busy any time of day, but service is quick, and the women who work the counter are patient and friendly. Show any indecision and other customers are sure to cheerfully chime in with their recommendations. While crumb cake is the star attraction, many folks swear by the variety of Danish and pecan rings. And there’s a tray of what looks like sticky buns that keeps whispering our names. We’ve not yet answered their call, but suspect that once they’re tasted, resistance will be futile.