Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Cinnamon-Streusel Coffee Cake...

We've made a ton of cookies for the Weekly Wednesday Treat Day lately, be it in the form of bars, rolled, sliced or drop. I actually had another already sitting on my desk when it dawned on me just how many we've made... I figured it was time to seek out another treat! Luckily I had a pile of food magazines that have been neglected - when I got to the second one in, this Cinnamon-Streusel Coffee Cake danced off the page and bellowed to be made.

It may look like there are a lot of steps and ingredients to this cake, but rest assured it just reads that way - I broke down the listed ingredients into their individual steps, rather than a more concise one that would end up having several ingredients that need to divided. This way, there is hopefully no confusion to what amount of every ingredient is going into each step.

There are four parts to prepare this cake from start to finish - the cake batter, a cinnamon-laced, pecan-packed sugary filling, the slightly nutty, crumbly streusel topping and a slick glaze to run all over the top and sides.

The streusel topping was on tap to accomplish first, which is just a mixture of flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, cubes of icy cold butter, salt and a handful of toasted chopped pecans. When you mix in the butter cubes, you can use a pastry blender if you like, but I used the best tools available - my fingers! All it takes is smashing the butter into the dry ingredients until the mixture begins to come together and forms hefty clumps - as soon as this happens, cover the bowl and keep it chilled until called for.

The filling to this homey cake echos the streusel topping, but not completely - it takes out the flour and butter completely, then ups the ratio of those toasted pecans for a surprising crunch inside. After you've beaten the cake batter into a fluffy, voluptuous mixture, half is scooped and smeared into the bottom of a tube pan, followed by a sprinkling of the filling and the rest of the batter. The generous, and I mean g-e-n-e-r-o-u-s, streusel crumbs are then scattered over the top and the cake is ready to bake.

My tube pan is probably closer to 10" than 9", but it didn't seem to affect the result much, besides the cake being a touch shorter - it took roughly the same time listed in the recipe (about 55 minutes) for the tester to come out mostly clean with a couple moist crumbs clinging. When it comes time to turn the cake out, it may be worth your while to affix a piece of plastic wrap or finagle a sheet of parchment paper around the tube and on top of the crumb mixture. Some of the crumbs will inevitably come loose during flipping and having a little protection over them never hurts - it would also be helpful to have another pair of hands for added insurance.

Even if a few of the crumbs do come loose, it is not the end of the world - call them baker snacks, or just re-position them on the cake. When you add the simple confectioners' sugar and milk drizzle over the top, it will cement all those nubbins together. I would have been completely pleased with a plate of those scandalous buttery nuggets that adorn the top of the cake (and we'll just forget that there is more butter in those nuggets than there is in the cake... oh snap!), but getting through them and reaching the soft sour cream cake underneath was what really sold me.

The sour cream doesn't lend much of a tang, but does wonders to keep the cake tender and light. Jeff was taken by the thick line of brown sugar and crunchy pecans in the filling, scooping them out before he even bothered to get to the rest of his slice! Be sure to use your best cinnamon - I went with our favorite Vietnamese Extra Fancy Cinnamon, which gave the filling and crumbles a rich bite that flowed through into the plain cake with each forkful, without having any in the actual batter.


  1. Want to send me a slice to have with my coffee? This looks so much better than the breakfast bar I packed! I'm a huge fan of pecans in the streusel topping; the extra little crunch it creates is perfect. Looks amazing, just like everything you make!

  2. That is one stunning looking coffee cake - looks perfect for brunch!

  3. This sounds absolutely fantastic. I love the presentation, too, that glaze looks wonderful!

  4. I would welcome this cake if someone would bring it to me. Nice for a change to do a coffee cake for treat of the week.

  5. Sometimes the old stand-bys are the best

  6. Caroline - If it was only that easy!

    Kristen - Thank you!

    Eva - I loved how it dripped down the side.

    Helene - It was - we should do that more often!

    Carole - Yes, very true!

  7. WOW -- that looks amazing. Especially that thick crumb topping on top.

  8. Tracy - I'm still thinking about that cake!