I’ve been teaching cooking classes out of my home for about three years now. A few years back I did a brunch class which included a recipe for coffee cake. I am a sucker for all kinds of sweets, but when they have a moist cakey interior topped with a crunchy brown sugar cinnamon walnut streusel, I really can’t help myself.
So I’m demonstrating the recipe and about to pop the coffee cake into the oven, when someone says “but you forgot the coffee”. What?
I didn’t realize that coffee cake doesn’t quite translate to the UK. What the Americans define as a cake to be accompanied with coffee, typically eaten for breakfast (ok, maybe not the official Webster definition, but that’s how I see it), the Brits thought it was literally a cake made with coffee. We all got chuckle out of that one.
Definitions aside, here is one of my favorite recipes for coffee cake. It’s not the one I taught at the class – that one is a huge, layered ordeal that feeds an army. I find myself making the recipe below more often as it’s less time-consuming and makes a smaller amount – for our family of four we can get two breakfasts out of it. Served up with coffee, of course.
1 year ago: Baked Macaroni and Cheese
Cinnamon Walnut Streusel Coffee Cake (serves 8-10)
Note: The batter is quite thick, and does require a bit of muscle to whisk it all together. If you prefer you can make it with an electric mixer.
2 cups (250 grams) plain, all-purpose flour
2 cups (400 grams) granulated sugar
1 teaspoon salt
10 tablespoons (140 grams) unsalted butter, softened and cut into cubes
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup (180 ml) buttermilk (or low-fat plain yogurt)
1 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cup (85 grams) finely chopped walnuts or pecans
1/2 cup (100 grams) packed dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Preheat oven 350º F (175º C). Grease the bottom and sides of a 10-inch/25 cm springform pan (if you don’t have a springform pan, then a round cake pan will do, but just grease it very well and flour it too).
Whisk flour, sugar and salt in a large mixing bowl until blended. Add butter and cut with a whisk until mixture resembles coarse crumbs, using a butter knife to remove clumped butter from the whisk. Remove 1 cup (150 grams) crumbs to separate medium-sized bowl.
Whisk baking powder and soda into mixture remaining in large mixing bowl. Add buttermilk, egg and vanilla; whisk vigorously until batter is thick, smooth, fluffy and frosting-like, 1-2 minutes. Using a rubber spatula, scrape batter into prepared pan and smooth top.
Add nuts, brown sugar and cinnamon to reserved crumbs in the medium-sized bowl, toss with a fork or your hands until blended. Sprinkle crumbs over batter, pressing lightly so that mixture adheres. Bake cake until center is firm and cake tester comes out clean, 50-55 minutes. Transfer cake to rack; remove pan sides. Let cake cool completely, about 2 hours, before serving. When completely cooled, cake can be slid off pan bottom onto serving plate. (Note: The texture firms up a bit as it cools, so it is best to cool completely….however if you don’t have two hours to spare and it’s still warm and you can’t stop yourself I can vouch that your coffee cake will still be ok and taste delicious).
Adapted from Cooks Illustrated