August 19, 2012

Sour Cream Coffee Cake



This cake was one of the first successful from scratch cakes I ever made.  Up to this point, if I made a cake it was a box cake with the exception of banana bread.  Once, I even made a cake for a work event in the microwave! Early in my marriage, we loved the box cake and canned frosting which were rare treats even though they were so readily available. Plus, I grew up on box cakes - they were a wonderful invention to my grandmothers and insured them a delcious cake everytime.  My desire to learn to make a homemade cake came with  the wonderful gift of my KitchenAid mixer, which I still use some 20 years later, and PBS cooking shows.  After many unsuccesful attempts at scratch cakes from my cookbooks on hand (Betty Crocker, Good Housekeeping Illustrated, and The Frugal Gourmet) I perused cookbooks at the bookstore and saw Ruth Levy Berenbaum's Cake Bible and I thought if bible is in the title it must be the authority. It really was and is my baking bible. I learned so much from her book like the importance of the exact measure of ingredients, the use of butter over margerine in recipes and some of the science behind a recipe. In this recipe the cake browns more than others because of all the egg yolks in the recipe. I appreciate Berenbaum's precision and finesse. I still use this book with its cracked spine and it is a staple for anyone who wants to bake delicious cakes.

Making this cake is an olfactory delight! I love the smell of the wet ingredients mixing together and how the sweet cinnamony smell fills the house when it is baking. The crumb is dense and tender combined with the sweetness of the streusel swirl and the slightly crunchy streusel topping.  I use pecans or walnuts in the topping depending on how strong of a nut flavor I desire.

Streusel Filling and Topping
1/2 cup packed brwon sugar
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/2 cup walnuts or pecans
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 cup cake flour
4 tablespoons butter, cool but not cold straight from the refrigerator

Preheat oven to 325 F
Grease 9 inch springform pan then line bottom of  pan with parchment the grease and flour pan.

4 large egg yolks
2/3 cup sour cream
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups sifted cake flour
1 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
12 tablespoons of cool room temperature butter

Streusel Filling and Topping
In a food process fitted with blade, pulse the sugars, nuts and cinnamon to coarsly chop the nuts. 
Remove 3/4 cup of mixture to use as filling.
To remaining nut mixture add flour, butter and vanilla and pulse to form a coarse, crumbly mixture for the topping. Set aside.

In a medium bowl mix lightly the yolks, vanilla and 1/4 of the sour cream and set aside.
In large electric mixing bowl mix flour, sugar baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
With paddle attachment mix on low for 30 seconds
Add the butter and remaining sour cream and mix on low speed until the the dry ingredients are moistened.
Increase speed to medium and beat for 1 1/2 minutes to aerate and develope the cakes structure.
Scrape down sides.
Gradually add the egg mixture in 3 batches beating 20 seconds between each addition.
Scape down sides.
Reserve 1/3 of the cake batter and pour remaining into prepared pan smoothing top.
Sprinkle streusel topping evenly on batter.
Drop remaining batter on top of streusel filling in several heaps on the filling.
Gently smooth batter to cover filling evenly careful not to disturb the filling.
Evenly sprinkle on the streusel topping.
Bake for 55 to 65 minutes or until a tester comes out crumb free.  Cover loosely with foil at around 45 minutes to prevent over browning.
Cool on wire rack for 10 minutes then remove from pan.

coffee cake

adapted from Ruth Levy Berenbaum

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