Friday, April 06, 2007

Old Fashioned Sour Cream Coffee Cake

Today, I want you to talk amongst yourselves. I’ll give you a topic: coffee cake—discuss.

Finished? Good. Here’s my take: I wouldn’t bother with most coffee cakes. Give me a scone, a muffin, even a doughnut over coffee cake any day. My husband likes coffee cake and orders it occasionally at Starbucks. I never had the urge to make it myself until about two years ago. We had just moved into our condo, and a neighbor brought us a lovely, homemade, mini coffee cake. That was a good cake; nothing fancy, just moist, plain cake with a sugary crumb on top.

I was in no rush to duplicate the neighbor’s cake, but the seed was planted. In a baking mood, I batted around ideas yesterday to Mike. Rhubarb pudding cake? Italian Cream Cake? No dice. When I threw out coffee cake, Mike’s eyes lit up and the discussion was over.

I knew we wanted a plain, very moist cake with sour cream, topped with some kind of streusel or crumb. This is just the kind of recipe I knew I would find in my King Arthur Baker’s Companion book. The sweet recipes in this book can be a little heavy and rich, but they always turn out perfectly.

This cake may be even better than the neighbor’s. The batter is very thick, not pourable like a regular sheet cake. When baked, however, it is not too heavy, just incredibly moist and a little tangy due to the sour cream. I slightly cut the amount of flour and sugar in the crumb topping, and still had more than enough for a very sweet, crumbly cake. I also make this cake at night for breakfast today, and I think it does benefit from having ample time to cool and sit. So, it is the perfect sweet breakfast treat to make in advance. Easter brunch, perhaps?

So, now I am on the coffee cake bandwagon. Due to the intense sugar rush, I may not eat it as often as my beloved scones, but it is definitely a nice addition to my repertoire of breakfast treats.

Bloggers love coffee cake; there way too many great ones out there...

Alpineberry's Mini Cherry Walnut Streusel Coffee Cakes have a lovely pink tint.

Seriously Good's Apple-Ricotta Coffee Cake must be as good as it looks since it uses ricotta, an ingredient that's always in my fridge for spreading on toast.

Go take a gander at the gorgeous Apricot-Almond Coffee Cake at Cream Puffs in Venice.

The Dried Cranberry Coffee Cake from Tartelette is quick and simple and uses a secret ingredient--homemade eggnog!

In the archives of Baking Sheet (now Baking Bites) I found another old-fashioned sour cream coffee cake

I wish I had some fresh blueberries to make this Coffee Cake from Chocolate & Zucchini.

This apple coffee cake from Simply Recipes is easy and looks wonderful.

Old Fashioned Sour Cream Coffee Cake
Adapted from the King Arthur Flour Baker’s Companion
I changed this recipe by using half whole wheat pastry flour in both the crumb and the cake. It works perfectly and is undetectable to the untrained eye. Use only all-purpose flour if you want. I suspect it would also be good with only whole wheat pastry flour. I would not use regular whole wheat flour which would change the flavor, texture and color too much for this tender, sweet cake.

Makes two 9-inch rounds or one 9 x 13-inch cake

Crumb Topping:
1 c. all-purpose flour
1 c. whole wheat pastry flour
1 c. granulated sugar
½ tsp. salt
1 ½ tsp. cinnamon
14 tbs. unsalted butter (7 ounces)
1 tsp. vanilla extract
¾ tsp. almond extract

8 tbs. (4 oz.) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 c. granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 c. sour cream (I used lowfat)
1 c. all-purpose flour
1 c. whole wheat pastry flour
½ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking powder

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter two 9-inch round pans or one 9 x13 pan.

Make the crumb: In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, salt and cinnamon. Melt the butter in the microwave and stir in the vanilla and almond extracts. Pour the butter over the flour mixture and stir to combine until the flour is uniformly moistened and you have a sandy, moist crumb. Set aside.

Make the cake batter: In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar with an electric mixer on high speed until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition. Beat in the vanilla and sour cream, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a spatula as needed. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt and baking powder. Add flour mixture to the sour cream mixture and beat on low to medium or stir with a large spoon until evenly combined.

Pour the cake batter into the prepared pan(s). Sprinkle the crumb mixture over the batter with your fingers, covering the batter completely. Bake for 20-25 minutes for 9-inch rounds or 30-35 minutes for a 9 x 13 pan. Cake is done when a toothpick or cake tester comes out clean and the sides are light gold and slightly pulling away from the edge of the pan. Cool cakes in their pan(s) on a wire rack.

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MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

I am always substituting some flour with whole wheat or ww pastry. A once in a while coffee cake is a good thing. This one looks excellent. I haven't got a sour cream one in my routine.
I've also had excellent results with King Arthur Baker's Companion.

Helene said...

Another recipe for me to try, thank you! I love having a coffee cake around because for some reason, there is always somebody dropping by around when my car is in the driveway...! Looks so comforting!

Peabody said...

It's a good bandwagon to be on.

Julie said...

Tanna: I love how I can't even tell the difference when I use ww pastry flour. I think the sour cream really adds a unique flavor in this cake...I hope you try it.
Helene: Yes, this is the kind of cake you can serve at any time of day.
Peabody: It sure is. I can't get enough of this cake. I guess I probably never had a coffee cake before that wasn't store bought, so I didn't know what I was missing.

Jeena said...

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Anonymous said...

I was searching for a recipe for starbuck's classic coffee cake and your cake looked exactly like it.
Can i bake this cake in one 9 3/8 * 4 inch angel food cake pan, or will the cake bater be to heavy for a single pan and refuse to rise?

Julie said...

Hi Rhea,

I don't think it's necessarily the rising that would be the problem. I think the outside of the cake might burn before the inside is done. Of course, I assume this is a tube pan, so that may help. I honestly can't say, but because this is such a dense cake, I would recommend using a standard cake pan. If you have a 9x13 pan, that would be a much closer approximation to the 2 round ones--the baking time may be slightly shorter. If you only have one round pan, you could halve the recipe. I hope that helps!

Anonymous said...

Hi julie,

thank you very much for your comments.
I live in california and the local trader joes grocers does not carry king arthurs pastry flour. do you order it online.
I did try out the sour cream coffee cake without the pastry flour(in a tube pan). came out very well, like you said the outside of the cake browned more than the inside , but delicious.

Julie said...

Rhea, glad your cake turned out! The whole wheat pastry flour I use is actually made by Bob's Red Mill, and I buy it at my local Whole Food's Market. If there's a Whole Food's near you, they have tons of interesting flours. I use King Arthur mainly for my other flours, and you can order their products online, which I often do. The original recipe for this cake only calls for AP flour, so that's no problem at all! Using WW pastry is something I often do in baked goods to add more fiber and nutrition and because I can't really tell any difference in the flavor when I substitute it for some of the AP flour.

Anonymous said...

Hi Julie,

Thanks a lot for your comments.
Finally, I baked this cake with king Arthur's AP flour and pastry flour. Fantastic foolproof recipe!


Julie said...

Hi! I'm so glad this cake has worked out for you. It's been too long since I've made it, and I really need to do it soon. Thanks for sharing your experience with the recipe. i love to hear how others fare--good or bad--and it's a big help to other people who are thinking about trying the recipe too!
Thanks again for reading the blog!

chic cyclist said...

Thank you for this recipe. Like you I never "got" coffee cake, but my husband LOVES it. Hopefully this will be something we will both enjoy. Thank you for sharing this!

Julie said...

Cyclist: I'm so glad you guys like it! Thanks for your comment.

Anonymous said...

What is the history behind it?