Thursday, February 21, 2013
A few months ago, my kindergartener came home exclaiming, "Mom! My teacher made the most awesome snack for us today. It was sooo good, you wouldn't believe it!" OK, I'll bite. "What was it?"
"It was called coffee cake. But it didn't even have coffee in it. People just eat it with coffee sometimes."
"Your teacher made you coffee cake?" I had to admit, I was impressed. And jealous. I'd never made a good coffee cake, despite best efforts. Something always went wrong. And here, someone whose baking skills I was unable to critically evaluate (although I really like her), had introduced my daughter to this classic breakfast confection before I had. It just didn't sit well.
"We can make coffee cake at home, you know." It was my poker face. I didn't actually know if we could, since I never had. I started to realize how hard this might be. "We can?! Let's do it, let's do it!"
So we went home, and that weekend I made one sorry excuse for a coffee cake. We all ate an obligatory piece, and tossed the rest. It was dry on the edges, and kinda brown throughout, rather than high golden cake with a dark cinnamon ripple and crumbly sugar topping. So I gave up for awhile.
Until I saw a picture in a cookbook of the perfect coffee cake, exactly how I would want mine to look. I read the author's notes, and she said it was her rendition of her favorite cake from King Arthur Flour. KAF! Why hadn't I thought of that?! Of course they will have a good one; their test kitchen actually tests recipes! So I skipped this dubious variation and went straight to the source.
And this is what I got.
Tender, moist, vanilla yellow cake (I used my precious vanilla bean paste because I wanted it to be just really perfect.) Cinnamon ripple, with a touch of cocoa (you barely taste it.) Crunchy, crumbly cinnamon sugar topping (which has nothing wrong, but I may experiment with in future - nuts, oats, other spices, etc. Now that the foundation is sure, embellishment comes next.)
Coffee cake perfection. And yes, my little Ginger likes it, too.
Coffee Cake (print recipe)
Makes one 9x13 or two 9" round pans
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 T ground cinnamon
6 T unsalted butter, melted
1 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 T ground cinnamon
1 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste
3 large eggs
3/4 cup sour cream or plain yogurt (I used plain Greek)
1 1/4 cups milk (any; I used 2%)
3 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a 9" x 13" pan, or two 9" round cake pans.
2. Make the topping by whisking together the sugar, salt, flour, and cinnamon. Add the melted butter, stirring till well combined. Set the topping aside.
3. Make the filling by mixing together the brown sugar, cinnamon, and cocoa powder. Note that the cocoa powder is used strictly for color, not flavor; leave it out if you like. Set it aside.
4. To make the cake: In a large bowl, beat together the butter, salt, sugars, baking powder, and vanilla until well combined and smooth. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. In a separate bowl, whisk together the sour cream or yogurt and milk till well combined. You don't need to whisk out all the lumps. Add the flour to the butter mixture alternately with the milk/sour cream mixture, beating gently to combine.
5. Pour/spread half the batter (a scant 3 cups or 28 ounces) into the prepared pan(s), spreading all the way to the edges. If you're using two 9" round pans, spread 1 1/3 cups (14 ounces) batter in each pan. Sprinkle the filling evenly atop the batter. Spread the remaining batter atop the filling (this is most easily done with a rubber spatula dipped in water.) Use a table knife to gently swirl the filling into the batter, as though you were making a marble cake. Don't combine filling and batter thoroughly; just swirl the filling through the batter. Sprinkle the topping over the batter in the pan.
6. Bake the cake until it's a dark golden brown around the edges; medium-golden with no light patches showing on top, and a toothpick or cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean, about 55 to 60 minutes for the 9" x 13" pan, 50 to 55 minutes for the 9" round pans. When pressed gently in the middle, the cake should spring back. Remove the cake from the oven and allow it to cool for 20 minutes before cutting and serving. Serve cake right from the pan.
Recipe from King Arthur Flour