New Jersey Crumb Buns!

Hello! I am doing my best to catch up from my London Bears game trip, and apologize for the lack of communication.  What a blast we had in London and Londoners couldn’t have been more welcoming to us fans.  We stayed at the JW Marriott in Grovesner.  The service was impeccable.  This is the hotel where the Bears stayed as well, so my pals and I were sure to book a room early, as the entire hotel was sold out.  We became fast friends with the hotel staff…Luka and Thomas took especially great care of us.  I would definitely recommend this hotel to anyone traveling to London.  It is not cheap, but if you know me, I like to pretend I have lots of money  when what I really have is lots of room on a credit card…ha! So I vacation in style and don’t worry about a thing until a month later when I’m home and my bill comes in the mail.  Life is too short not take advantage of trips like this, right?!  That’s how I feel, anyway.  At any rate, we were just a short walk to the Marble Arch tube stop, Buckingham Palace, the Embassy District and one of my favorite bars now of all time, The Grenadier.  After taking pictures in front of Buckingham Palace on day 3, we decided to check out this Mexican restaurant that we had walked by on our way there (we had already consumed lots and lots of Fish and Chips in the 2 days before!).  So, not sure if you know this but London is not known for their Mexican food, and this restaurant – while lovely and lively and pretty darned good margaritas – made us realize that we should be checking out more London Pubs and consuming more Fish and Chips.  The food was just okay but with a hefty price tag… and the gold covered grasshopper in our guacamole just about put me over the edge!!!  What the heck!?!  Our friend Ted ate it and said it tasted something along the lines of a Cheeto.  Okay. Gross again.  So we finished our margaritas and grasshopper guacamole and then I Googled “Pubs near me” and Google Maps took us down a beautiful street lined with Embassies from around the world – “Embassy Row”, then right past a quaint little church where a wedding was just finishing up and the bride and groom were taking off in a horse and carriage (I felt like I was in a scene from ‘Four Weddings and a Funeral’) and then through some cobble stoned alley right up to the steps of The Grenadier.  What a place! Go there if you are ever are in London.  Small, charming, great beers, one of the oldest Pubs in London…and haunted.  Fun stuff!  We ran into more Bears fans there as well.  Just a jolly good time everywhere we went!  Can’t wait to get back.

Ok, enough about London.  Before I left for that trip, I had been talking with my friend Kathy who is from New Jersey.  She said “have you ever made New Jersey Crumb Buns?” I had never even heard of them before.  I was very curious and thought this could be something new to send to the Bears if they went over well in my test run.  Kathy sent me a couple recipes  that she had tried but said she had to doctor up both.  So I decided to do some research of my own and spent time reading reviews on all the recipes I found.  I ended up choosing this one because a couple of the reviewers that actually tried the recipe themselves said they this cake is just like the cake they grew up on in New Jersey.  Enough said.  I woke up early enough to whip one up to bring to work with me.  It was still quite warm when I covered it and put it in a travel bag to bring to the office.  By the time I arrived at the Chamber it was still warm on the bottom but cool enough to cut.  I sent my All-Staff office email out telling them this was a new recipe and I needed honest opinions only.  Every review from every co-worker was positive…not one was at all negative.  Some people even took the time to walk across the office to let me know how much they enjoyed it in person vs. just an email response to my memo.  I had a piece dropped off to Kathy later that evening.  She sent me a text the next day that said “Let’s talk Crumb Buns soon. “.  That was it.  No smiley face or thumbs up emoji.  No heart.  No nothing.  So, I’m not sure if that means, “Boy, you really nailed the New Jersey Crumb Bun, Chicago Girl!””…or “This New Jersey Crumb Bun is the pits and you so don’t know what you are doing when it comes to this New Jersey treat”.  Soooo, that said, you will have to decide weather or not you try this one.  I personally thought it was a great recipe, especially if you like the Hostess Crumb Cakes that were popular when I was growing up.  That is what this cake reminded me of, only home made and much better!  I will be seeing Kathy in the next couple weeks and will be sure to talk Crumb Buns with her.  And weather she thinks the cake I made was good or bad, I’ll update this post (if I know how) and will let you all know.

Ok, here is the recipe I used: New Jersey Crumb Bun Cake

I’ll be posting again this week from Palm Beach, Florida, where Tom & Hackett, two of my best friends, are celebrating their wedding.  I am the ring bearer!  Can’t wait.  I’m still deciding on what to make for treat day.  But I’m thinking something Chocolate…so will be in touch again soon!

Thank you so much for reading my blog and please feel free to reach out to me with any questions or comments.

Go Bears!!!

P.S. I forgot to get a pic of the baked piece of cake (sorry!), but you will see on the blogger who shared the recipe, that the crumb topping should be just as thick if not thicker than the actual cake bottom. YUM!

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2018 will mark my 7th Season making treats and baking for the Chicago Bears. You might be thinking, how does one land that gig? Well, let me tell you. It’s riveting… My younger brother, Danny, works full-time for the Bears. Our entire family have been life-long Bears fans, btw. Back in the summer of 2012, he came to me and said, “Hey, we need someone to make treats for the team. Do you think you can do it? Because my boss said, Dan, you’ve got all those sisters, can’t one of them bake? So, I volunteered you.” My first response was, “YES, but I don’t know how to bake”. I mean, up until that point, the only things I remember ever baking were 1) S’mores Bars back in the 80’s off a recipe on the back of the Golden Grahams cereal box. Come to think of it now, I don’t even think those things went into the oven – so technically that wasn’t baking. And 2) Good old Nestle Toll House cookies – which NEVER turned out the same each time I baked them and it drove me nuts and got me to HATE baking for that very reason. I was always in love with cooking, though. I was the gal who threw dinner parties often and provided an obnoxious array of hors d’oeuvres and wine – that’s more my thing. Side note: I learned the hard way that baking and wine don’t mix. Ha! However, I was honored and excited to have been asked to step up to the plate for this little baking / treat-making gig, for THE CHICAGO BEARS, no less. So my answer was an enthusiastic, YES! I figured I still had a month before the first regular season game, which is when the “treat days” begin – every Thursday during the regular season (not preseason). So, I hit the streets in search of good recipes and then got to work test-baking in the kitchen for the rest of that summer. As I became more internet savvy, I started following lots of baking bloggers and watching video tutorials. I would go to parties and if I tasted something that I thought was exceptional, I would never hesitate to ask for the recipe. Baking for the Bears is always in the back of my mind when eating desserts. I now have an arsenal of treat recipes worthy of offering at a bake shop, if I do say so myself;) . I started getting requests for my pound cake, outside of Baking for the Bears, and my Double Chocolate Chip Sea Salt cookies have been quoted as “The best cookies in the world” by a well-known player, as well as friends, family and neighbors. One of the first things I did was perfect a cookie of my own that comes out pretty consistently crunchy on the outside but chewy on the inside. I no longer rely on the old Toll-House recipe. It’s the one thing I never get tired of baking. The guys get them every week. With that said, this season, I plan to blog my recipes each week, and share with you whatever it is I am making for the Bears. I’ll also give you tried & true feedback on what worked, what didn’t, and any fun comments that the players, staff, friends & co-workers might have regarding the treat of the week. My office colleagues love it when football season rolls around, because I typically find new recipes and test-bake on Sundays to bring in on Mondays for critical reviews. From there, I decide if they are Bear-worthy for Thursday Treat Days at Halas Hall. I hope you will check in periodically and enjoy my blog. I’m super excited for the 2018 Bears football season both on the field and in the kitchen! GO BEARS! This is gonna be a good season… I can feel it!

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