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Cinnamon Streusel Coffee Cake

This is almost a repost of something I did over at Slashfood this week, but the cake is very good and I wanted to share it here, too. This Cinnamon Struesel Coffee Cake is a Martha Stewart Living recipe that I adapted by changing the spicing slightly. It was originally meant to be a cardamom streusel cake, but I was not going to toast and grind a bunch of whole cardamom pods just to make streusel when cinnamon is such a natural fit for coffee cake. I did use some cardamom , but it was pre-ground.

If you’re not familiar with coffee cake, it gets its name because it is designed to be served with coffee or tea, as part of a mid-morning or mid-afternoon meal, not for dessert. The reason must be that coffee cakes are never frosted and, as you know, almost anything is acceptable breakfast food when it doesn’t have a thick layer of frosting. This cake is very rich, moreso than some desserts and definately less good-for-you than something I might make on a whim in the afternoon but it is classic comfort food and a great choice for special occasions or a brunch when you’re having guests.

The cake very nearly has more streusel than batter, and it was difficult to spread the batter over the streusel layer without swirling it into the cake. I used my spatula to gently and carefully push the batter over to the sides of the pan. I used half non-fat yogurt and half buttermilk instead of all low-fat yogurt. The original recipe gave an incorrect baking time, which I have corrected here. It only called for 50 minutes in the oven, when the cake needed at least 10 more minutes.

The cake is moist, rich and delicious. It is not a light cake, but it is very tender and does not seem heavy or dense. I loved how simply pressing the streusel mixture into big chunks before spreading it on the cake resulted in professional looking and tasting topping. Aside from the hitch with the incorrect baking time being given in the recipe, I didn’t have any problems and found the recipe to be fairly simple. My hands got messy making the streusel, but I just had to avoid answering the phone while I did it.

The recipe originally said this serves 10-12, but I far prefer to cut it into 16 or 20 smaller slices. You can always take a second piece.

Cinnamon Streusel Coffee Cake
For the Streusel:
2 ¾ cups all purpose flour
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp cardamom (or additional cinnamon)
1 cup brown sugar
½ tsp salt
1 cup unsalted butter, softenedFor the Cake:
2 ½ cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
2 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp salt
¾ cup unsalted butter, very soft
1 ¼ cups sugar
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 ¼ cups plain yogurt or buttermilk (low fat or nonfat)

Preheat the oven to 350F. Grease a 10-inch tube pan.
Make the streusel:
Place all your streusel ingredients, except for the butter, in a large bowl and stir together. Cut the butter into 10 or 12 large chunks and add them to the bowl. Using your hands, rub the butter into the flour mixture until the mixture is crumbly. Some pieces can be large – the size of an almond or pecan – but they shouldn’t all be that big. It may take 4-5 minutes because it is a bit harder to work with soft butter than firm. Set aside.
Make batter:

Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt in a medium bowl and whisk until well combined.
In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar together on medium-high speed until smooth and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat eggs in one by one, followed by vanilla extract.
Alternately add the yogurt (or buttermilk) and the flour mixture, making sure to end with an addition of dry ingredients. Don’t forget to scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula as you mix.
Scrape half of your batter into the greased, 10-inch tube pan that you prepared earlier. Smooth batter with a spatula and top with 2 ½ cups of streusel. Scrape remaining batter into pan, on top of streusel, gently spreading it to the sides of the pan with your spatula. Use your fingers to squeeze remaining streusel together into large and small chunks, then top batter with all remaining streusel.
Bake at 350F for 60-70 minutes, until a tester comes out clean (mine took about 64 minutes).
Place cake on a wire rack and allow to cool for 15 minutes. Run a sharp knife around the around the outer and inner edges of the pan. Remove tube portion with cake attached. Run knife over the bottom, loosening the cake. Gently replace cake in the pan, which will support it as you turn it upside down. Place a clean dishtowel on top of the pan and a baking sheet on top of that. Carefully flip pan over, turning cake out onto the baking sheet. Reinvert onto wire rack. Allow to cool completely.
Serves up to 20.

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  • Randi
    January 21, 2006

    This looks yummy, especially since Im starving right about now. Have you ever made a sour cream coffee cake. I have a recipe for one that my mom has been baking since I was a kid. Its amazing.

  • Michele
    January 21, 2006

    Looks wonderful! I wonder, can you bake this in a rectangular or square pan?

  • Nic
    January 21, 2006

    Randi – Sour cream is always a good choice for coffee cakes. I think they turn out a bit lighter than one with yogurt.

    Michele – If I would recommend using a big bundt pan and halving the streusel recipe if you don’t have a tube pan, but if you halve the whole recipe, you should be able to bake it in an 8 or 9 inch square pan. Try swirling some of the streusel into the batter, rather than going for layers, since they will be harder to do in a flatter pan. The baking time will need to be adjusted, too, so use a toothpick to check it for done-ness.

  • Barbara (Biscuit Girl)
    January 21, 2006

    Oh Yum! First the brownies, now coffee cake. I think I gained 5 pounds just by reading your blog today.

  • McAuliflower
    January 21, 2006

    Ooooo… adding cardamom is an interesting compliment here. I’ve never seen a coffee cake using it before.

  • The Cookbook Junkie
    January 22, 2006

    That thick layer of streusel looks so amazing. I’m definitely going to try this.

  • Clare Eats
    January 22, 2006

    I knew this post was going to be dangerous!
    That is a GREAT looking coffee cake Nic!

  • J
    January 22, 2006

    hi nic, more streusel than batter? – sounds like my kind of coffee cake! looks lovely, as always

  • Pille
    January 24, 2006

    Hi Nic – I like the idea of streusel layers in the cake – yummy!!!

  • Lori
    January 24, 2006

    If this cake has more streusel than batter, then it’s my kind of cake! :p I LOVE coffeecakes so much that I almost never say no to them.

    One thing Nic – you said that almost anything can be eaten for breakfast as long as it isn’t frosted. Chocolate cake with fudge frosting is a good exception. :p

  • Amie
    March 30, 2009

    Maybe the baking time is correct for the original recipe. I play around with ingredients all the time and often find the baking times aren’t right for my altered recipe. But I can’t stop experimenting, so I guess I’ll have to put up with this problem.

    This looks really tasty, I’m going to try it.

  • Whitney
    February 21, 2010

    Oh, this was really good! Thank you!

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