Sometimes a really simple cake is best, and that is usually how I classify a coffee cake. Even though they generally have a streusel or crumb topping, the cakes don’t need any frosting and never require the same time commitment that a layer cake does. It is also nice that coffee cake lends itself to many different flavor variations, so no matter how simple, it is never boring.
This coffee cake is a plain vanilla buttermilk cake with chocolate chips mixed into the batter and topped with cinnamon streusel. It straddles the line between a breakfast cake and a dessert cake for two reasons. First, the chocolate is a desserty addition because coffee cakes often stick with fruit – blueberries, strawberries, etc. – as a mix-in. Second, the texture of this cake is quite rich. It has a tight, tender crumb, and almost seems to melt into your mouth as you eat it. The vanilla comes through in the finished cake, but you also taste the richness of the butter and buttermilk in the batter. The streusel topping, which is also buttery, contributes to this.
Speaking of the topping, this is not the kind of cake that has an extra-thick layer of crumb topping. The streusel mix just about cover the top, adding a bit of extra sweetness and some great texture to the cake. Even though I’m a big fan of topping on coffee cakes, I think that this amount of streusel was just right for this particular cake.
You can use any 9-inch round cake pan for this coffee cake. The cake can be cooled right in the pan and served from it, so there is no need to worry about trying to pry it out of the pan before you slice it. That said, it’s nice to use a springform pan if you have one because it gives you the ability to remove the sides of the pan – making it that much easier to slice and serve.
Chocolate Chip Coffee Cake
1 1/3 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup buttermilk
3/4 cup chocolate chips
3 tbsp all purpose flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
3 tbsp butter, chilled
Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly grease a 9-inch round cake pan (a springform is a good choice).
In a medium mixing bowl, whisk flour, baking powder and salt together.
In a large mixing bowl, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time, and vanilla extract. Mix in half of the flour mixture, followed by the buttermilk and then the rest of the flour mixture. Stir only until no streaks of flour remain, then stir in chocolate chips.
Pour batter into prepared pan, then prepare the topping.
In a small or medium bowl, combine flour, brown sugar, ground cinnamon and salt. Cut butter into several chunks and add to flour mixture. Rub in with your fingertips until mixture resembles coarse sand. Sprinkle evenly onto cake batter already in pan.
Bake at 350F for 25-30 minutes in a 9-inch round pan, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean or with only a few moist crumbs attached.
Cool cake completely (in the pan is fine) on a wire rack before serving.