Pancakes, french toast, muffins and bagels are all fantastic weekend breakfast options, but nothing seems to excite a crowd like a streusel-topped coffee cake. I don’t know if it is the fact that permission to eat cake for breakfast (which I have been known to do anyway) is what makes coffee cake so great, or it is the streuel topping that reels people in. Whatever the reason, if you want to make a brunch dish that has a lot of “wow” factor, you need to go for a coffee cake. And if you’re entertaining during the fall and winter holiday season, you need to make this Cranberry Streusel Coffee Cake.
The vanilla-laced cake is studded with both whole and dried cranberries, which give it fantastic pops of color and flavor. A cinnamon streusel is swirled into the center of the cake and sprinkled on top for texture and some extra sweetness. It’s moist, dense and delicious. I use a combination of whole cranberries and dried cranberries because they both bring different things to the cake. The fresh cranberries – you can use whole, frozen berries in this recipe, undefrosted – have a wonderful tartness to them, while the dried berries have an intense sweetness. The two types of berries contrast well with each other and ensure that the cake has lots of cranberry in every bite.
This coffee cake is baked in a tube pan, the same type of pan that you might use to bake an angel food or chiffon cake. The shape of the tube pan makes it ideal for large coffee cakes, as there is plenty of surface area for the streusel to spread out. If you don’t have a tube pan, I would recommend picking one up at your local market or baking store, as they tend to be inexpensive and there is really no good substitute for them. That said, this recipe will also fit in a bundt pan if that is what you have available. To use a bundt pan, grease and flour the pan well, then sprinkle all of the streusel mixture in between layers of cake batter. Swirl the streusel through the batter with a knife to prevent the cake from splitting when you invert it to serve for best results. The baking time is about the same.
I love this coffee cake and so does everyone who has tasted it. It is easy to make, gorgeous to look at and keeps very well. This is the kind of cake that you could easily prepare on a Friday and enjoy all weekend long – assuming that not everyone goes back for seconds.
Cranberry Streusel Coffee Cake
3 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 large eggs
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup + 2 tbsp milk
1 1/2 cups whole cranberries, fresh or frozen
1/2 cup dried cranberries
2/3 cup all purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp ground cinnamon
4 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled
Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly grease a 10-inch tube pan.
Make the streusel: In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, sugar salt and ground cinnamon. Pour in butter and, using a fork, stir until the mixture has the consistency of wet sand. Grab the streusel mixture in your hands and squeeze to create clumps of streusel. Set aside.
Make the cake: In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
In a large bowl, whisk together sugar, eggs, vegetable oil and vanilla until smooth.
Stir in one third of the flour mixture, followed by half of the milk. Stir in another third of the flour mixture, followed by the remaining milk. Stir in all the remaining flour, as well as the whole and dried cranberries, and mix until no streaks of flour remain visible.
Pour half of the batter into the prepared pan, then sprinkle in about half of the streusel mixture. Pour remaining half of the batter over the streusel and sprinkle the rest of the streusel onto the top of the cake.
Bake for 55-65 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean and the top springs back when lightly pressed.