Archive for the ‘Coffee Cake’ Category
Apricots are a slightly under-appreciated fruit. They are delicious and sweet, with an almost honeyed flavor when they’re perfectly ripe, but they don’t find their way into baked goods like pies and cobblers as often as other stone fruits do. Apricots are great for baking, however. They have an excellent flavor and are firm enough to stand up to a little time in the oven without losing their texture. They also add a beautiful color to baked goods, and this Apricots n’ Cream Upside Down Cake is a perfect example.
The cake batter is a dense, tender and moist yogurt cake. It has a buttery vanilla flavor to it with a distinct tang from the yogurt, so while it is tasty on its own, it is also a lovely contrast for the sweet apricot topping on this cake. As the name of the cake suggests, the topping starts out as the base of the cake. Thinly sliced fresh apricots are layered into a tube pan along with a little sugar and some apricot preserves, which add extra sweetness and moisture to the fruit. The cake looks like it is topped with sunshine when it comes out of the pan to serve – and it tastes like it, too. It’s a wonderful summertime cake, to be served as dessert after a barbecue or as coffee cake at a weekend brunch.
Greasing and flouring your pan will help to ensure that your fruit layer comes off of the pan cleanly. I sometimes like to line my pans with parchment paper when making upside down cakes to ensure that the topping will come out cleanly, but that is a little trickier to do with a tube pan, like the one I used here. This topping comes off best after the cake has cooled and the topping has had a chance to “set” a little bit. If any of the fruit sticks to the pan, simply scrape it off with a spatula or knife and spread it back onto the cake to make it look picture-perfect.
Biscoff spread – the addictive brown sugar cookie spread with the consistency of peanut butter – is popping up more and more places these days, and as it gets more popular, I’m looking out for more opportunities to use it up. It’s delicious spread on toast, of course, but it also makes a tasty batch of cookies and a delicious topping for cupcakes. It is also an excellent filling for a coffee cake, as I found when putting together this Biscoff Swirl Coffee Cake.
The coffee cake is a simple vanilla cake batter with a swirl of Biscoff-laden filling and a cinnamon yogurt topping. The idea for the topping came from a 1965 Pilsbury cookbook I have, which had a sour cream topping baked onto a cake. Thick, greek-style yogurt makes a great topping (which stays very soft, almost like a frosting) for this cake because it adds a slight tang to the cake and breaks up some of the sweetness of the biscoff. The cake is moist and very tender, and the three different layers – topping, cake and filling – make this cake a little more interesting than you average coffee cake!
When you are layering the batter and filling of this coffee cake in your baking pan, you’ll notice that the layers of this cake are fairly thin. This means that you need to take your time and spread your batter carefully so that you have an even layer of Biscoff filling throughout. Spread the Biscoff and the cake batter as you would spread a frosting on a cake: start at the center and pull towards the outside, and don’t spread the same spot over and over, or you’ll mix the layers. A small offset spatula makes it much easier to spread the batter, but be patient and a regular spatula will do the trick, too. It’s worth the effort of layering the batters because the finished cake looks irresistible with that perfect Biscoff swirl running through it.
A basic cinnamon streusel is a classic topping for coffee cake, but coffee cakes, like muffins, are things that can easily be transformed by the addition of a few flavorful extra ingredients. There is no cinnamon in sight in this Cranberry Nut Coffee Cake, but there are lots of crunchy pecans, sweet-tart dried cranberries and a brown sugar streusel – all of which will make you reach for seconds even before you’ve finished your first piece.
The cake has a soft, buttery crumb and a texture that is almost like pound cake. It is dense enough to hold up the streusel layer and support all the dried cranberries packed into the batter, but it is still very tender. Instead of using buttermilk or milk as the liquid in this cake, I used sour cream to enrich it. Both full fat and low fat sour cream will give you good results, and having the lower fat option allows you to lighten up the coffee cake a little bit if you want to.
I like dried cranberries for this coffee cake. They’re sweet, tart and available year round, while fresh and even frozen cranberries can be very difficult to find if you want to bake this cake in the spring. Fresh and frozen cranberries can be chopped up and added to the coffee cake batter to add an even brighter cranberry flavor. Another flavor variation I like to use in this cake is to add some orange zest to the batter, as oranges and cranberries are an excellent pairing.
This Lemon Blackberry Coffee Cake is another recipe that takes advantage of fresh, summertime berries. I, obviously, used blackberries in this case. Blueberries are definitely more popular for muffins and coffee cakes than blackberries are, since they tend to hold their shape and not “bleed” too much juice into a baked good. But there are advantages to using bigger, juicer berries: the fresh blackberries give this coffee cake an almost cobbler-like feel to it – which makes this one coffee cake that is just as good for dessert as it is for breakfast. You can use frozen berries, tossing them in a teaspoon or two of flour before stirring them into the batter, but if you can get fresh berries you’re going to get the best results.
The cake batter itself is moist and buttery, enriched with both butter and buttermilk for a very flavorful base for the blueberries. Lemon zest is creamed into the butter and sugar, which releases even more of the potent lemon oil from the zest as it rubs against the coarse sugar. The lemon flavor does not dominate the cake, however, which allows the berries, buttermilk, vanilla and other elements of the cake to stand out without being overshadowed by tangy lemon.
Like so many other coffee cakes, this one is topped with streusel. To complement the lemon in the buttermilk coffee cake batter, I added some lemon zest to the streusel as well. The streusel doesn’t have a strong lemon flavor, but you can clearly taste the extra lemon when you’re eating the cake and that gives it a nice brightness, as well as adding a sweet and crunchy topping to the moist cake.
School lunches these days aren’t typically anything to write home about, although there are plenty of chefs, parents, students and other activists out there trying to change school lunches to be healthier, fresher and tastier. But school lunches weren’t always something to dread. In fact, they used to be downright tasty – even in the Los Angeles Unified School District, which is the biggest school district in California and the second largest in the country. I can’t say that I remember them being particularly good back when I was a student, but judging from this Sour Cream Coffee Cake that was served in Los Angeles schools back in 1959, I am positive that it was at some point in time.
This coffee cake is excellent. A great balance of moist vanilla cake and sweet brown sugar and walnut filling. The recipe is easy to make, beautiful to serve and more than satisfying to eat – and it probably goes just as well with a carton of milk as it does with my coffee. The cake is baked in a tube pan, and gets a layer of filling in between layers of cake, as well as a generous portion of the filling mixture on top. The recipe has been published a couple of times, and this version was printed in the LA Times several years back along with several other classic LAUSD recipes.
The cake uses a blend of cake flour and all purpose flour, to give it a light and soft texture. I definitely recommend using the two types of flour (if you have pastry flour, you can substitute that for both flours) or use less all purpose flour to substitute for cake flour (see this post for details). The filling doesn’t have any spices added to it, so it gives you a excellent butter and brown sugar flavor in the finished cake. You can, however, spice it up by adding cinnamon or any other spice you like to the filling mixture. The filling also includes a fair amount of walnuts, which have a rich, buttery texture that works well in the coffee cake. Pecans would make a good alternative if you want something besides walnuts.