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Chocolate Body Paint Is Not A Well-Balanced Meal, You Guys

There are some things I’ll never understand:

String theory.

Paleo diets.

Decorative cabbage.


Decorative, huh?  Are we sure?

And Valentine’s Day.  I don’t get Valentine’s Day.

I’ve tried it 30 ways ’till Sunday: single, out with friends, at home, single, at a restaurant, single, single, single, Scott.

Once I even went on a date for Valentine’s Day.  I was excited—it was a fancy restaurant, and they had a special menu that night.

You guys, they fed me a heart-shaped ravioli and some rose petals.

I clawed rabidly through the rose petals in search of the fish I’d ordered.  There was thin square of it, in cream sauce, about the size of an iPod Nano.  I left the restaurant so hungry I could have eaten the paper towels out of the bathroom dispenser.

I don’t want this to happen to you, so I made you a crumb cake.  I suggest you eat some before you get your Valentine’s Day freak on.  Do you know how many calories are in a rose petal?  In chocolate body paint?  Not many.

Better eat some cake.

crumb cake

Update: I googled “how many calories are in chocolate body paint” so I could get you an actual number, but then I had to shut down my computer because some of the search results were what I will call, for legal reasons, “not family-0riented.”

Back to the cake: This cake is my mom’s mom’s recipe.  Her name was Evelyn.  I never met her, but if she was anything like my mom and my aunts (and I hear she was), she must have been an awesome lady.  Her crumb cake (or coffee cake or breakfast cake) is the best I’ve ever had.  The crumbs are crunchy but they melt in your mouth.   I’ve been eating this since I was in diapers, and I love it.  Suffice it to say, this is NOT the same grandma who I loved dearly but who made spinach brownies from cream of mushroom soup.

My Grandmother’s Crumb Cake {Download & Print Recipe}
recipe handed down from my mom, told in my own words


For the cake–

2 1/4 c. flour

1 c. sugar

3 tsp. baking powder

3/4 tsp. salt

12 Tbsp. butter (1 1/2 sticks)

3/4 c. milk

2 eggs

For the crumb topping–

1 1/4 c. flour

1 c. sugar

3 tsp. cinnamon

1 tsp. baking powder

1/4 tsp. salt

8 Tbsp. (1 stick) butter

1 tsp. vanilla


First, make the cake.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the dry ingredients for the cake (flour, sugar, baking powder and salt).  Cut the butter into small pieces and add to the dry ingredients.  Mix until the chunks of butter are gone and it looks like cornmeal.

In a separate small bowl, whisk the eggs and milk together with a fork.  Add to the batter and mix for about 1 minute, until fully incorporated.  Pour into a buttered 13 x 9 x 2″ baking dish.  (Don’t bake yet because you still have to add the crumbs!)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Then, make the crumbs.

In a medium-large bowl, combine the dry ingredients for the crumbs (flour, sugar, cinnamon, baking powder and salt).  Melt the butter and add the vanilla to it.  Pour most of the butter mixture into the flour mixture slowly, using a fork to make crumbs as you go.  **Note**  You don’t want to smash the mixture into one big, super-wet crumb.  Rather, you want a lot of little clumps and barely any left-over flour.  So fluff the flour mixture with a fork as you dribble in the butter, and stop adding the butter when the flour is almost totally gone.   If you don’t use all the butter, that’s okay.  You want to add enough butter so that the crumbs aren’t floury, but not so much butter that the crumbs all melt together.

Using your hands, sprinkle the crumbs evenly over the batter.  **Note** Hold your hands close to the batter; don’t drop the crumbs from high in the air or they’ll sink into the cake and they won’t be crumbly and crunchy.  If your crumb mixture is too wet and sticks together instead of forming crumbs naturally, hold a handful of topping right over the cake and rub between your fingers to make the crumbs by hand.

Bake 30-35 minutes until a tester comes our clean and the crumbs have baked through.  If you used a glass pan, you’ll be able to see that the sides of the cake are a light golden brown.  Let the cake cool before you cut into it.


thunder Rose petals for dinner make us sad.

47 Comments Post a comment
  1. I love rose petals, but not in my mouth. Crumb cake sounds much better, thank you! 🙂

    February 5, 2013
  2. Jen #

    I didn’t know Thunder was THAT kind of girl! Where is her leather whip?!? Ha ha ha
    She apparently plans on having a great v-day!!! 🙂

    February 5, 2013
    • Jen, anything leather she eats!

      February 5, 2013
  3. Thanks for the recipe and such an interesting post!

    February 5, 2013
    • Thank you right back, my friend!

      February 8, 2013
  4. Awesome post and thank you for the delicious looking recipe.

    February 5, 2013
  5. Chocolate body paint? Forget the calories; wouldn’t that make a huge mess? And then who’s supposed to spend the evening cleaning that up? How romantical! Forget about all that; I think your grandmother’s cake is charmingly, romantically old-fashioned and delicious. That’s the real way to someone’s heart. Of course, you could eat it in bed and get crumbs all over the sheets, and then who’s supposed to clean that up? No matter how I look at Valentine’s, it seems to result in housework!

    February 5, 2013
    • I AGREE. I have too many dogs in the bed to worry about crumbs between the sheets as well. And chocolate body paint? Please. What a hassle. Also, Valentine’s Day is in February. I try to get out of my pajamas and into my clothes, and vice versa, as quickly as possible these days because it’s freezing. I basically walk around the house in multiple layers and a scarf to keep warm. I wouldn’t bare myself for body paint in a cold house in a million billion years!

      February 8, 2013
  6. Sandra R #

    I love Valentine’s Day, but mainly because it is an excuse to make heart shaped cookies and decorate them, and eat them. And if I am lucky, there will be chocolate, candy not body paint. Your cake sounds great!

    February 5, 2013
    • Chocolate candy sans body paint sounds like a perfectly acceptable way to spend valentine’s day.

      I hear you on the heart-shaped cookies: I made about 6 batches of sugar cookies over Christmas in an attempt to find one as good as the cookies a woman sells at the farmer’s market here in the summertime. I never did find one that was quite right. But I had such a good time trying. I love a good, soft, not-too-thin sugar cookie with a slightly almond flavor.

      February 8, 2013
  7. How very cool to have your mums mums recipe, I am not a valentines girl either.. nor is my significant other thankfully or i would have to pretend! c

    February 5, 2013
    • Cecilia, it *is* awesome to have one of her recipes. We also have a pasta sauce (marinara and one with meatballs) recipe that her side of the family’s been making for years. My mom has three sisters and each one makes it a little differently. Do you have anything that’s been passed down that you love? It does change the way you feel about a recipe, doesn’t it? In such a wonderful way…

      February 8, 2013
      • It does and often my grown children will ask for my mums meatloaf, but in the 60’s and 70’s some of the food choices they made were pretty awful, we lost out Mum early on and I took over.. but i can still make the best roast potatoes, just like she did.. and i also eat cheese with apples.. she did that too.. hmm.. good question though. c

        February 8, 2013
  8. That meal sounds like it wouldn’t supply anyone with enough energy to even make love on Valentine’s Day! Cake, on the other hand, sounds excellent and appropriate. Please come to our One Love “Like-in” on Feb. 14th and have a good Valentine’s Day this year…

    February 5, 2013
    • I agree with you on all counts. And I will definitely be at your Feb. 14th virtual event. Your posts about it are hilarious.

      February 8, 2013
  9. jadedapothecary #

    Great post (and way to call out the ridiculously small portions at “special” dinners). Also, what a sweet picture of a sad puppy. =)

    February 5, 2013
    • Seriously, right? If I wanted to eat a SPOONFUL of something, I could do that at home, not at a fancy pants restaurant for $26. I left New York a year and a half ago and strangely, I don’t miss the food at all! It can be so good when you make it at home. Some of the restaurants up there killed me with the small portions. For some reason–especially when it came to fish. It was like “fish” was the cue to serve someone a business-card size slice of food and call it a day!

      February 8, 2013
  10. Orn #

    I must tell you, I always stop what I am doing and read your blog when the notification comes through. And tonight, I will be making this cake because it is delicious looking. Also, it seems the number of calories in chocolate body paint would probably depend on how much of it you use… for instance elbows are less square footage than other bits.

    February 5, 2013
    • Orn, this was so kind of you to say. It makes smile so big, I can’t even tell you.

      I agree that it might be difficult to determine what “one serving” of Chocolate body paint is. I mean, it would probably kill the mood if–before you start body painting each other–you’re like, “oh, wait. I have to pour this chocolate into a 1/4 cup measuring cup because that’ll be 110 calories to start with. Plus the strawberry….and the whipped cream….so about 200….just for your upper torso…” Ugh. Game over.

      February 8, 2013
  11. We don’t really “do” Valentine’s Day. Even in the early years, we considered it amateur-hour, smug in our belief that we are romantic daily, not just one specific day of the year. Lies. Earlier this week, my beloved looked over at me and said, “hey, so Valentine’s Day is next week. We’re not doing anything for that, right? I just don’t want to get in trouble or anything.” And they say romance is dead.

    February 5, 2013
  12. rhema3one7 #

    I love this idea.. how much is 1 stick?

    February 5, 2013
    • One stick is half a cup by volume or 113.4g, Rhema. We measure strange in the US. 🙂

      February 6, 2013
  13. string theory probably easier to fathom than Valentine’s Day. how about spreading it out and making the 14th of each month Valentine’s Day?

    February 5, 2013
  14. Best. Title. Ever.

    February 5, 2013
  15. I can’t believe livestrong doesn’t have the calorie info on the body paint. Whenever I google a weird ingredient, they always have the answer!

    February 5, 2013
  16. Thunder: Ida eat da cabbage, Mom. Where’s da chocolate paint?

    February 6, 2013
  17. That cabbage in the foreground? Let me guess. The kale-eater, aka Seymour, got it.

    I love that you have your grandmother’s recipe. I’m sure she was a wonderful lady and her cake sounds just like her.

    February 6, 2013
  18. I love everything about this post.
    Especially the cake.. of course.
    Eating in is definitely the way to go for Valentine’s Day. Our favourite is an indoor picnic, not a euphemism, but a tray full of crackers, cheeses, pickles, pate and usually topped off with homemade apple crumble. Now that is love!

    February 6, 2013
  19. I am not big on Valentine’s Day – yes I have love in my heart and I am a romantic, but it is just a little commercial for my tastes. I try really hard every day to give some love to the greatest someones in my life. Mr. Craves and I try to go out on a date night every 2 weeks, about 2 times a month (either eat it in or go out). Happy Hump Day

    February 6, 2013
  20. “Rose petals for dinner make us sad;” that’s just too funny. I’ve come to the conclusion that a better experience is to be had in the cheap seats than in the high-priced suite accommodations (i.e. the fancy restaurant). Wouldn’t you rather be tossing dinner rolls overhand down the family-style table than trying not be seen frantically licking the plate clean at the high-priced establishment in an effort to assuage your hunger? (Happy Valentine’s Day to all your household, no matter how many legs they have or what they’re eating.)

    February 6, 2013
  21. Oh. My. God. What is it with decorative cabbages??!!? I lived in a garage apartment where my “rent” was to do the yard work (and other crazy tasks) for the wealthy people that lived there. One of those tasks was to rip out every plant in the front and replace them with decorative kale. The name must be a misnomer because it sure as heck doesn’t look decorative after it’s been in the ground for a while.

    Anywho, this cake looks yummy. One of my grandmother’s names was Evelyn and she loved to bake so it must be the universe telling me to make this cake 🙂

    February 6, 2013
  22. Amy #

    Oh, so that IS really cabbage that you see in people’s flower gardens? I thought it was just some weird plant that looked like cabbage but that you couldn’t eat. Very strange.

    You know, I could take or leave Valentine’s Day. When I had crummy boyfriends, it was the one day where they might actually be sweet to me and tell me all the things I wanted to hear. But when you’re in a loving relationship, Valentine’s Day is really no different than any other day…except that the chocolate you stuff your face with was purchased by someone other than yourself.

    I love love crumb cake but have never made it myself! That might just have to change with this lovely recipe.

    February 6, 2013
  23. My grandma always served us crumb cake when we stayed overnight at her house. Only hers was from a box. I am so trying this, your photo really sells those crumbs.

    February 7, 2013
  24. I freaking love crumb cake!!! I also love Valentine’s Day, mostly because my mom and grandmom send me cards. I am completely baffled, however, by any combination of food & the bedroom. I mean, all I can handle on my night stand is a glass of water, thank you.

    February 7, 2013
  25. jenny_o #

    I don’t understand the ornamental cabbage either! I am a flower lover, and cabbage just doesn’t say “flower” to me 🙂

    February 7, 2013
  26. I’m not a fan of the romance side if Valentine’s Day, but I love the food side. Real food that fills and warms your belly since February is friggin’ freezing where I live. Crumb cake fits that category. Especially when it’s an old family recipe.Thanks for sharing.

    February 8, 2013
  27. thank goodness: i’m happy to know i’m not the only one who doesn’t get paleo dieting. my head explodes every time i think about it, and then i die a little inside. Well, the “i like to eat” part of me does.

    so this crumb cake: PERFECTION. I’m down for granny coffee cake 24/7.

    February 8, 2013
  28. This sounds INCREDIBLE. I made a coffeecake once, a couple years back, but this recipe looks better than the one I used. Thanks for being so considerate this Valentine’s Day 🙂

    February 8, 2013
  29. Woman, I’ve been looking for the perfect crumb cake. I made a Martha Stewart one a while back and it sucked donkey balls. I’m betting your grandmother’s is much better. This may be because your grandmother would have made it herself, without the aid of minions. And she wouldn’t have used weird ingredients – I’ve got all that stuff up there in my house. Also, I bet your grandmother wouldn’t have made everyone around her wear khakis and blue shirts.

    February 9, 2013
    • you know, i bet martha would love to know that her coffee cake sucked donkey balls. if i were martha stewart, i would need to know information like that. i super hope you left a review of the recipe somewhere where i can see it.

      February 12, 2013
  30. duuuude, I love crumb cake and am irritated by Valentine’s Day, always. So winner on all counts! (heart shaped ravioli!? come on.)

    February 11, 2013
  31. I have been looking for months and months (at the request of my daughter) for a crumb cake recipe to replace the one I made for years and lost. This looks like it, and I can’t wait to try it. As a matter of fact, my misadventures in cooking recipes off the internet…perhaps I should have given a funnier take on it, shows two of my coffee cake disasters:

    Another great story, by the way! Thanks so much for posting it.

    August 13, 2014

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