Posted by: A Part of the Solution | October 2, 2011

Not-So-Quick Coffee Cake

But you can assemble all the elements ahead of time; and in just a few minutes in the morning, you have a glorious treat which feeds a horde in your oven. This coffee cake is a little more complicated than the one on which I grew up. But it’s divine, and it has easy variations which make it spectacularly different when you’re looking for a change up.

I found the core of this recipe in America’s Test Kitchen Family Baking Book. However fussy those cooks, I’m fussier on some points, and much less so on others. So I freely substitute this and that for the other as necessary. And I’ve added a fruit layer to sit between the streusel and the cake. You can make it without the fruit sometime and decide for yourself whether I’ve got an upgrade here or not.

Not-So-Quick Coffee Cake

For the Fruit Layer:

2 TBSP butter or margarine, or nut oil (like walnut)

3 apples, peeled and chopped thinly

1/2 tsp cinnamon

For the Topping:

4 oz, 1 cup, walnuts or pecans, toasted

2 tsp cinnamon

pinch of salt

1/4 cup white sugar

1/4 cup brown sugar

or 1/3 cup maple syrup, or maple syrup and honey mixed to replace both sugars above

1/3 cup oats or wheat flour

4 TBSP butter or margarine, 3 TBSP if the liquid sweeteners are used

For the Batter:

3 cups, 15 oz, all-purpose wheat flour–or 14 oz white whole wheat

1 TBSP baking powder

1 1/2 tsp baking soda

1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp salt

1 3/4 cups sour cream, or cream soured with 1 TBSP lemon juice, or whole yogurt, or ricotta cheese mixed well with milk–or combinations of these depending on what you have on hand or can easily acquire

6 oz, or 1 cup – 3 TBSP white sugar

6 oz, or 1 cup-3 TBSP brown sugar

7 TBSP butter or margarine, melted and cooled somewhat–or a nice nut oil like walnut

3 large eggs, beaten

Pre-heat the oven to 350°. Grease a 9 X 13 Pyrex or 2 9″ cake pans.

For the Fruit Layer: Heat a heavy-bottomed sauce pan over medium. Melt the 2 TBSP butter and when it’s foaming add the apples and the cinnamon. Stir this occasionally as you prepare the other components of the cake (or for 20 minutes) over slightly lower heat.

For the Topping: Put the nuts, wet or dry sweeteners, seasonings, fat and grain-of-choice into the bowl of a food processor. Give it 6-9 pulses until the nuts are well chopped (though with occasionally recognizable pieces).

For the Batter: In a large bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. In a medium bowl whisk together the sour cream, or its alternative, the sugars, the fat and the eggs. Fold the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, being careful not to over-mix (you should still see the occasional unincorporated lump or streak of flour).

Pour the batter into the 2 cake pans or the 1 Pyrex. Smooth it slightly to get it distributed to the corners. Now sprinkle the sautéed apples evenly over the batter. Lastly, spread the streusel across the apples to cover them well.

If you used the liquid sweeteners in the streusel topping, cover the pan/s for the first 1/2 of their baking with aluminum foil. Remove and bake uncovered until done.

Bake the 9″ cake pans 25-30 minutes, testing for doneness with a toothpick inserted in the center coming out clean.

Bake the Pyrex 45-55 minutes, using the same doneness test as above.

To make ahead: Cook and cool the fruit, store covered in the fridge. Store the topping in an air-tight container at room temperature. Store the Batter’s dry ingredients air-tight at room temperature. Store the Batter’s wet ingredients in the fridge. Pre-heat the oven to 350°. Mix together the batter components, pour into your prepared pan/s. Proceed as above, baking an extra 5 minutes or until done.

Deep South Not-So-Quick Coffee Cake

For the Fruit Layer: Substitute 4 ripe peaches for the apples, 1/2 tsp ground cardamom for the cinnamon and add 4 TBSP of Bourbon to the pan once the peaches are hot. Let it bubble away and caramelize the peaches

For the Topping: Use the toasted pecans, use all brown sugar or all honey for your sweetener, substitute 1/3 cup cornmeal for your grain, substitute 1 tsp ground cardamom for the cinnamon

For the Batter: Substitute 1/4 cup of cornmeal for an equal amount of flour, omit the cinnamon, substitute 1 2/3 cups buttermilk for the sour cream/options, use 12 oz brown sugar–1 1/2 cups- 2 TBSP

Tropical Not-So-Quick Coffee Cake

For the Fruit: Substitute 2 mangoes for the apples, substitute 1 tsp lime zest for the cinnamon, you may add 4 TBSP dark rum as above for the Deep South version

For the Topping: Use 4 oz macadamias, brazil nuts or unsweetened coconut for your nuts, use evaporated cane juice, or date sugar,  for your sugar–or (grudgingly) agave syrup in the liquid sweetener proportion, if you really must, and substitute another 1 tsp of lime zest for the cinnamon

For the Batter: Omit the cinnamon, sour a can of coconut milk with the juice of a lime, use cream or any preferred alternative to make up the balance of 1 3/4 cups, use evaporated cane sugar (or date sugar) to make 12 oz–1 1/2 cups- 2 TBSP.

Holiday Not-So-Quick Coffee Cake

For the Fruit:  1 1/2 cups cranberry relish/sauce heated with the butter and a handful of raisins–use the cinnamon, and allowed to cool back down

For the Topping: 4 oz toasted, rubbed hazelnuts or hickory nuts, use all dark brown sugar or maple syrup for the sweetener, if convenient substitute hazelnut oil for the butter

For the Batter: Substitute dark brown sugar for the sugars, grate 2 TBSP ginger into the wet ingredients–removing 2 TBSP of the 1 3/4 cup volume.

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