Sunday, August 18, 2013

Coffee Cake

Long since before I started this blog I've been on the hunt for a good old fashioned crumb topped coffee cake. I've tried several over the years. Either the cake is too dry or the crumbs are too hard or too sandy. Or too much crumb, or not enough crumb. Some include fruit, and although I'm sure they're delicious, I didn't want fruit. Just plain cinnamony coffee cake. And yes, I've posted Crumb Cake on this blog. But that's Crumb Cake and it's all about the crumb. This is coffee cake, and it's all about the cake. I'm sure you see the distinction. Don't ya? Please tell me you do. 
Anywho, I found this recipe and it looked promising. I was wary of the cream cheese layer, I didn't want a strong cream cheese tang to my cake. I was wary of the sour cream in the batter. Again the "tang" thing. Not that I don't like sour cream or cream cheese, I do, really, I just didn't want that for coffee cake. But the cake in the picture looked moist, and the crumbs looked just right and it had pecans. So, I gave it a try. . .

Start by making the crumb topping: unsalted butter, AP flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, a pinch of salt  and chopped pecans.

Mix it all up in a small bowl and set aside. You can use a fork or just get your hands in there, that's what I did.

Next mix up the cream cheese swirl: cream cheese, light brown sugar, vanilla, and more cinnamon. Whip until smooth.

Then stir in more chopped pecans and set this aside.

Now, finally, make the cake batter. Start with butter and sugar.

Beat those together until light and fluffy. Then add 2 eggs, one at a time, beating well after each. Beat in some vanilla extract.

Separately, stir together AP flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

OK, here's where I go rogue*, I changed up the order of the ingredients incorporating what I've learned about how to get the best texture on cakes. So, follow the recipe if you like OR. . .
Mix in 1/3 of the flour mixture just until combined. . .

Then mix in 1/2 of the sour cream, just until combined. . . Then 1/3 flour mixture, then the last 1/2 of the sour cream and end with the remaining flour. Mixing just until combined after each addition.

OK, here, I'm going rogue again: instead of using one 9x13 pan, I'm using 2 8-inch pans. I mostly did this because I wanted to take a coffee cake to a new neighbor but still wanted to have some for our family. I thought it would be nicer to bring a whole round cake then some hacked up portion. That's just me, do it however you like.
Pans should be greased and floured. Then divide the batter between the pans, dot with blobs of the cream cheese mixture, drag a knife through it to swirl, then level off the top. Whew! That was a lot.

Then crumble 1/2 the crumb mixture over each pan, covering the top evenly. Bake in a preheated 350°F oven for 40-45 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Check it at 40 minutes then continue to bake, 5 minutes at a time, until done. Mine took almost 50 minutes. Adjust for your oven.

Over all I was pretty happy with this recipe. I loved the pecans and the cake was super moist and flavorfull. I also like the cream cheese swirl which wasn't too cream cheesy but just added a touch of goody cinnamony flavor to the whole thing. Next time I may try putting half the batter in the pan, then the cream cheese swirl, then top with remaining batter and crumb topping. Then it would have a cream cheese "ribbon" in the middle of the cake, making it more distinguishable from the crumb top. That's about all I'd do different. This recipe is a keeper. And, if you don't finish it on the first day, I totes recommend that you give a slice 10-20 secs in the micro on the second or third day. You don't want it hot, just a bit warm. Yum, yum, yum!

Here's a link to the recipe: Cinnamon Cream Cheese Coffee Cake

*Going Rogue (my changes to the recipe):
- For the cake batter I chose to alternate wet and dry ingredients into the butter/sugar mixture starting with 1/3 of the flour mixture, then 1/2 the sour cream, another 1/3 of the flour mixture, the remaining 1/2 of the sour cream and then the last 1/3 of the flour mixture. After each addition, mix just until incorporated. This is a better technique and results in a more moist cake.
- For the pans, I chose to use two 8 inch cake pans to make two round cakes. One to keep and one to give away. The cooking time remained the same as the original recipe.

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