Are you a math person?
I’m a weird sort of non-math math person. I’m the type of person who can figure out completely convoluted math word problems quickly. But then, I’m sad to say, my basic math skills – like multiplication and division – are pretty lacking. Sigh. I have absolutely nothing to say for myself.
Mike is always confounded as to how my mind works. He’s the opposite of me, so I guess we complete each other, lol.
In high school, I remember just about every math teacher I ever had telling the class that we’d be using math nearly every day for the rest of our lives. Of course that was usually in response to a wise crack from some student complaining When are we ever going to use this in real life?!
Well, kids, I can tell you that if you want to have a food blog you’ll be using fractions, ratios, addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division almost every time you cook.
For example, take this recipe. (Which by the way, bears noting that it tastes like autumn and smells like heaven.) I made this gorgeous Pumpkin New York-Style Crumb Cake in a 7 by 11-inch rectangular baking dish. It’s an odd size, I get that. Normally you’d see 9 by 13-inch or 8 by 8-inch, but this recipe just fit perfectly into a 7 by 11. And I knew someone would ask me if they can use a different size baking dish. (I totally don’t mind, so don’t feel bad about asking questions! But I like to be prepared if possible.) So I wanted to calculate the area of the baking dish and see what would be comparable before the question crept up.
For this size rectangular dish, the area is length multiplied by width, or 7 X 11 = 77 inches2.
Easy enough, but I knew that in order to find a comparably sized dish, I would need to look at circular dishes and I couldn’t for the life of me remember how to calculate the area of a circle. Enter Google…I found the equation and it all came flooding back to me. (Well, not really all, lol.)
For a circle, A = ∏r2.
Long story short and to spare you any math-related boredom, the closest size pan is a 10-inch round pan with an area of 78.5 inches2. So for this recipe, feel free to use a 7 by 11-inch rectangular baking dish or 10-inch round pan. Whatever works.
Note that this recipe should also work just fine either using an 8 by 8-inch square baking dish or a 9-inch round pan; but just a heads-up, you will most likely have to increase the baking time a bit to account for a slightly smaller pan being used. (If you try it in a different sized pan, let me know how it goes!)
And now about this cake. If you’re a fan of New York-Style Crumb Cake and you like seasonal flavors, this will be your new favorite. It’ll be your go-to when a friend wants to drop by for a quick chat…or when you need something sweet to bring to a party…or hey, maybe even just for a middle-of-the-week-I-made-it-to-Wednesday-treat. I won’t judge; some weeks that’s just the way it goes.
Serve it with coffee, tea, or steaming hot apple cider for maximum fall atmosphere.
P.S. If you’re into pumpkin treats, you might also like my recipe for Pumpkin & Cheese Spice Bread!
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
- 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
- 2/3 cup (135 g) light brown sugar, lightly packed
- 1 3/4 cups (225 g) whole wheat pastry flour or all-purpose flour
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 10 tablespoons (145 g) unsalted butter, slightly softened
- 1/3 cup (80 ml) canola oil
- 3/4 cup (150 g) light brown sugar, lightly packed
- 1 large egg
- 2/3 cup (160 g) pumpkin puree (homemade or canned)
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 1/4 cups (160 g) whole wheat pastry flour or all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon baking soda
- Butter, to grease the dish
- 2 tablespoons powdered sugar, for topping
- Preheat oven to 325F. Generously grease a 7 by 11-inch rectangular baking dish or 10-inch round pan with butter.
- Mix together all spices for the spice mix; set aside.
- For the topping, whisk together the brown sugar, flour, half the spice mix (or 1 3/4 teaspoon pre-made pumpkin pie spice mix), salt, and vanilla in a large bowl. Use a fork to cut the butter into the mixture, then once the dough forms pieces the size of peas, use your hands to work it until it forms large wet crumbs. Set aside.
- For the cake batter, whisk together the oil, brown sugar, egg, pumpkin puree, and vanilla extract. Stir in the flour, baking powder, salt, baking soda, and the remaining half of the spice mix (or 1 3/4 teaspoon pre-made pumpkin pie spice mix); be careful not to over-mix.
- Spread the batter out in the prepared pan and sprinkle on the crumble topping. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out slightly moist with just a couple crumbs, about 25 to 30 minutes.
- Cool completely, and then sift the powdered sugar on top of the cake.
Spice Mix: Instead of making your own spice mix, you can use pre-made pumpkin pie spice mix instead; use 1 3/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice mix for the topping and 1 3/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice mix for the cake.
Baking Time: Like the recipe says, be sure to take this cake out of the oven when a toothpick comes out slightly moist with a couple crumbs…once it cools, it is perfect like this and you don’t want it over-cooked!