Coffee Cake sits real high up on my “all-time favorite baked goods” list. There’s something pretty damn special about it. A lot of my love, nay, obsession probably has to do with nostalgic warm and fuzzy memories of having quintessential diner coffee cake as a kid growing up in New England. As a grown man no longer in New England, coffee cake still fits the bill for me. In fact, I think it’s one of those few foods that’s good even when it’s bad.
This recipe began as a contribution to my kitchen from one of my CDPs (that’s Chef de Parties), Danielle. I made a few minor tweaks to it, but I think she deserves ultimate credit for the recipe. The DFK nation thanks you, Danielle!
But where did coffee cake really begin? Funny you should ask…
Coffee cake is an old soul baked good. Its origins go back through an evolution of various baked products, which could technically be traced back to the earliest of cakes, made thousands of years ago with honey, fruit and nuts. The French developed galettes and fruitcakes and variations and improvements were created both in France and around Europe.
What we think of as coffee cake in the United States likely came from the Netherlands or Germany as early as the 17th century, first as a yeast raised sweet roll or sweet bread. These “cakes” were eaten with coffee or tea and contained coffee flavor. Once again the product evolved, with a lighter texture, baking powder or baking soda replacing the yeast as a leavener, and cinnamon or spice replacing the coffee flavor. Dutch and German immigrants became well known for coffee cake in New York and New Jersey, part of why the culture of coffee cake is so strong there, and by the late 1800s recipes for coffee cake or crumb cake were widespread.
Coffee cake is pretty straightforward and doesn’t need a lot of notation. The only thing I’ll mention is that the best coffee cake is super moist, so it’s really important not to over bake it. Doing so will create an especially dry and crumbly texture to the cake. I like to remove my coffee cake from the oven when a knife or skewer inserted into the center of it comes out nearly clean. The carry over heat from the oven will finish baking the cake as it sits on the counter top to cool. If a knife comes out of the cake spotless, it’s likely the cake will bake just a bit too far with the carry over heat.
coffee cake streusel
262g all-purpose flour
150g brown sugar
1g cocoa powder
Combine all ingredients and mix in a stand mixer with a paddle attachment until fully combined. The finished product will just bind together. We are going to create a uniform streusel for this recipe but alternately you could break the dough up into crumbles using your fingers for a rough, uneven crumble.
Flatten the streusel onto a piece of plastic wrap, taking care to spread it evenly. Wrap the plastic wrap around the streusel and chill it in the cooler until firm.
Cut the streusel into a small dice and reserve it to use later.
coffee cake filling mix
57g brown sugar
1g cocoa powder
Simply combine all three ingredients. Reserve this mix to use later with the finished batter.
*This mixture will make more filling that you’re likely to need at one time, so generally I keep this in a ziploc bag in the pantry to use the next time I make coffee cake. It sits right next to my fried chicken dredge mix. #lifegoals
coffee cake batter
65g brown sugar
8g baking powder
10g vanilla extract
150g whole eggs
157g sour cream
262g whole milk
417g all-purpose flour
Bring the butter, whole eggs, sour cream and whole milk to room temp. before getting started.
Combine and sift the all-purpose flour and baking powder and reserve it to use later.
Combine the butter, sugar, brown sugar, salt and vanilla in a stand mixer with a paddle attachment.
Add the whole eggs in several additions, mixing well until emulsified before adding the next addition.
Combine the sour cream and whole milk and add it to the batter alternately with the dry ingredients. Be sure to mix until fully incorporate with each addition of wet and dry ingredients.
Take a small portion of the finished batter and combine it with the filling mix at a ratio of 3.5:1. For a single, 8in. round coffee cake I use approximately 30-40g of batter and 12g of filling mix. Obviously the ratio can be adjusted if you’d like a stronger or weaker cinnamon batter.
Cast the main batter into a buttered and floured cake pan or a non-stick silicone baking pan.
Place the cinnamon batter into a piping bag and pipe the batter into the main batter in a spiral or “C”.
If you’d like you can use a knife or skewer to gently marble the two batters together (without mixing them together completely).
Top the batter with streusel before baking.
Bake at 350F for 25-30min. or until a knife comes out almost clean.
Hit ’em with a little powdered sugar. Gorge yourself. Rest. Repeat.