Coffee Cake, Three Ways

Still working my way thru the 1950 Betty Crocker Picture Cook Book, a few weeks ago I was in the mood for a good old-fashioned coffee cake.  Oddly enough, in this cookbook, the Coffee Cakes are in the Quick Bread section, not in the Cakes section.  Okay, actually I was in the mood for some muffins, but while trolling the Quick Breads section for muffin recipes I saw the coffee cakes, and well, I got “shiny pennied“.  The BCPCB offers one base Coffee Cake recipe and 8 ways to customize it.  Who could resist that?

Upon making the first of three variations I tried, I discovered the base recipe has some serious flaws.  First, when I put the batter in the pan called for (a 9″ square) I realized it was going to yield a 1″ tall cake with too little topping.  So I scooped out the dough into a 8” square – still not a very tall cake (by today’s standards) but the topping ratio was right.  Second, I was suspicious of the high cooking temp (375), and sure enough the edges set too soon, yielding a domed cake (yes, I use light-colored, heavy-guage aluminum pans – I sorta know what I’m doing, y’all!).  Subsequent cakes baked at 350 were level and evenly cooked.  Third, the base cake is lacking in flavor.  The recipe calls for only shortening, and a small amt. at that, and no vanilla. Butter or margarine is a must swap and a generous tsp. of vanilla is required too.

With a few tweaks, this cake is a winner – simple, quick (for real, you can go from thinking about making a coffee cake to eating one in an hour or less!), and delicious!

Basic Cake – with my tweaks to ingredients and method

  • ¾ cup sugar
  • ¼ cup butter or margarine
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • ½ cup milk
  • 1 ½ cups flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • ½ tsp. salt

Preheat oven to 350; grease and flour an 8″ square heavy aluminum or ceramic cake pan.  Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add egg and vanilla and beat until thoroughly combined and fluffy.  In a small bowl combine flour, baking powder and salt.  With the mixer running on low, add half the milk then half the flour mixture.  Repeat and beat on low until batter just comes together, scraping sides and bottom of bowl.  Do not overmix (unless you like your cakes tough and chewy)!

Variation 1 – Streusel Coffee Cake

This is a very tasty, basic streusel cake.  The streusel dutifully stays crumbly and on top of the cake thankyouverymuch (oh how I hate overly fatty streusel toppings that melt into a hard layer or worse, tunnel unattractively into the cake) and it offers just the right amount of  crunchy contrast to the delicate cake.

  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ½ cup chopped pecans or walnuts
  • 2 Tbsp melted butter
  • 2 Tbsp flour
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon

Mix streusel ingredients together until thoroughly combined.  Spread cake batter evenly in prepared pan.  Sprinkle topping over batter.  Bake 25-30 mins or until cake tests done (toothpick inserted in center shows only a few moist crumbs).  See, you really can wake up craving coffee cake and have it on the table in an hour or less!

The perfect breakfast - coffee cake and a latte!  The "napkins" are actually 2 sets of kitchen washcloths I recently got at Anthropologie.  I figured they were more eco-friendly and waaaay cuter than paper napkins.  Not to mention a lot cheaper than actual cloth napkins!  So clever I am...

The perfect breakfast – coffee cake and a latte! The “napkins” are actually 2 sets of kitchen washcloths I recently got at Anthropologie. I figured they were more eco-friendly and waaaay cuter than paper napkins. Not to mention a lot cheaper than actual cloth napkins! So clever I am…

Variation 2 – Blueberry Coffee Cake

Since we (I use that term loosely) grow blueberries, I’m always looking for recipes to use them.  This is a great, quick cake, and it uses a generous 2 cups of berries.  Because you are using more flour and adding 2 cups of berries, go ahead and use a 9″ square baking pan.  Also, if you use frozen berries as I do, let the assembled cake sit on the counter for 15-20 mins or so to allow the berries to thaw a bit in the batter – otherwise all that frozen “bulk” will make the cake take too long to bake and dry it out.

To the basic coffee cake batter, make the following changes:

  • increase flour amount to 2 cups
  • add ½ tsp. lemon extract or a few drops of lemon oil
  • after mixing batter, gently fold in 2 cups fresh or frozen (do not thaw) blueberries

Pour batter in prepared pan and top with a mixture of:

  • ½ cup sugar
  • ⅓ cup flour
  • ¼ cup very soft butter
  • ½ tsp. cinnamon
  • pinch of salt

Bake cake at 350 for 40-50 minutes or until cake tests done (toothpick inserted in center shows only a few moist crumbs).

So tasty, with the perfect amount of berries and crumbly topping.  I got the cute coffee cups in Mexico - too cute, right???

So tasty, with the perfect amount of berries and crumbly topping. I got the coffee cups in Mexico – too cute, right???  I truly believe that a beautiful cup makes the coffee taste better!

Variation 3 – Marmalade Coffee Cake

Okay, I have a serious love of marmalade (I will soon be posting about three amazingly delicious batches I recently made).  I thought this would be a great use for it, but alas, I was wrong.  I’m only going to mention this variation to warn you off of it, if you happen to have the BCPCB.  This cake was whack!  You make the regular cake batter and top it with a thick, sticky mixture of sugar, flour, butter, cream and orange marmalade.  First off, getting this goop spread out on top of wet cake batter was no picnic.  Seriously, I’d rather give a cat a bath.  The recipe states the topping will “melt down thru the cake”.  Oh, it will sink into the cake alright, but it will not “melt”.  What you end up with is a tragic looking cake with big, chewy blobs of orange taffy that make the cake hard to cut and even harder to eat (think teeth-fusing stickiness).  Nope.  Not a keeper.  But definitely try the other two variations – they rock!

A tragic waste of delicious ingredients.  My teeth hurt just looking at this picture!

A tragic waste of delicious ingredients. My teeth hurt just looking at this picture!

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