Don’t be fooled by the cake-like appearance of the treat in the photo above, nor by the name. This coffee cake has only a slightly resemblance to the moist, dense cakes you can find in just about any coffee shop. It is actually more like a sweet bread than a cake because it is made with a yeasted dough instead of being leavened with a chemical leavener, such as baking soda.
The original recipe came directly from Fleischman’s and I used RapidRise/instant yeast to make the dough. This allowed me to incorporate the yeast without first proofing it in warm water and, at least in theory, cut down on the overall time needed for the dough to rise. If you want to try it with active dry yeast, just proof it for 10 minutes in a bit of warm water until foamy, then proceed with the recipe as written. You might want to let the dough rise a bit longer before putting it into the oven, but proofing should provide all the activation that active dry yeast needs to get started.
Getting back on topic, this is a very easy bread/cake to make and well worth the few minutes it takes to mix up the batter. The base dough is made in one bowl and put into a baking dish, no kneading required, and topped with fresh sliced fruit (nectarines, in this case) and a crumble topping. It needs only an hour to rise before it can be popped into the oven, baked and served. The bread is light and slightly eggy, with a taste that reminds me a bit of challah. The topping turns a bit caramely and complements the flavor of the fresh nectarines very well. The crumble comes out of the oven crisp, but will soften as it cools because of the natural juices that are released from the fruit. Don’t worry too much about this if you’re planning to bake the bread in advance. It tastes great both ways.
Fresh fruit will give you the best results, but if you do want to try it with frozen, defrost the fruit completely and gently blot up any excess juice before adding the fruit to the cake. I left the skin on for a bit of color and the slices are quite thin, so it is really unnecessary to peel the fruit if you are using one with a thin skin. In place of nectarines, you can use apples, peaches, apricots or plums in this recipe.
Yeasted Nectarine Coffee Cake
2-1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
2 1/4 tsp RapidRise/instant yeast
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup milk
1/3 cup butter
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 ripe nectarines, pitted and sliced
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup butter, cold
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
Lightly grease an 8 or 9-inch square baking dish.
In large bowl, stir together 1 cup flour, sugar, yeast, and salt. In a small, microwave safe bowl, combine water, milk and butter. Heat until butter is melted. Set aside to cool for several minutes (should be no more than 120F before using), then gradually stir it in to the flour mixture, along with the eggs and vanilla extract. Stir in remaining flour until batter is stiff and very smooth.
Spread evenly into prepared pan.
Arrange nectarine slices in a single layer over batter.
In a small bowl, combine brown sugar, flour, salt and cinnamon. Add in butter, cut into pieces, and rub mixture together until it resembles very coarse, wet sand. Sprinkle crumb mixture over top of nectarine slices.
Cover with a clean dish towel and let rise for 1 hour.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 375F.
Bake for about 35-38 minutes, until bread is golden and the top springs back when lightly pressed. Cool in pan on a wire rack.
Serve slightly warm or at room temperature.