What is Coffee Cake and Recipe
A tender, perfectly spiced slice of coffee cake and a steaming cup of joe make a natural pair. The enticing aroma, ribbons of cinnamon filling, and hallmark crumb topping make it a treat at breakfast or as a midday indulgence. Coffee cakes are synonymous with casual gatherings that don’t require the fuss of frosted, labor-intensive cakes. Made with just a few pantry staples, coffee cake is a deliciously easy way to start the day. Let’s take a closer look at the origins of this classic snack cake and how easy it is to make at home.
Coffee cake, or kaffekuchen, is a single layer cake with a sweet, cinnamon-infused flavor and streusel top made from flour, butter, and sugar. Streusel can also be layered inside of the cake like a filling. Fruit variations are prevalent, with blueberry being the most common. Nuts and additional spices are often added to create deeper flavor and texture. Both yeast and baking powder can be used to give lift to coffee cakes, with some versions presented as a braided ring or lattice-style.
Where Does It Come From?
Coffee cakes became popular soon after coffee was introduced to Europe in the 17th century. German, Dutch, and Scandinavian communities began to pair spiced sweet breads with the new drink. A ritual called kaffeeklatsch emerged, where people would gather for caffeine, sugar, and neighborhood gossip. These communities continued their coffeehouse traditions when they emigrated to America.
As coffee plantations grew in size and number, the product became more affordable and coffee cakes became a treat for Americans both wealthy and working-class. By the late 1800’s, several coffee cake recipes made their way into American cookbooks, boosting the popularity of the humble dessert even higher.
Does Coffee Cake Have Coffee in It?
While some early versions of the dessert did contain coffee, the snack cake is meant to be an accompaniment to, not a cakeful of coffee. Most have simple cinnamon fillings, with some variations using chocolate, nuts, fruit, and cream cheese to complement the delicate flavor of the cake.
How To Make Coffee Cake
Coffee cake uses basic pantry ingredients like flour, brown sugar, and baking powder to create magic. Many recipes call for milk or sour cream to maximize moisture and to create a perfectly tender crumb. No need to frost or glaze — the buttery streusel topping acts as delicious baked-in decoration. Simply combine cake ingredients, then top with the streusel crumbs for a delightfully crisp layer. Coffee cakes are budget-friendly, totally customizable, and great for making ahead.
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Sour Cream Coffee Cake
1 ½ cups pecans, finely chopped
⅓ cup white sugar
⅓ cup packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
⅛ teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons melted butter
1 ⅞ cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon fine sea salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
¾ teaspoon baking soda
½ cup butter
1 cup white sugar
2 large eggs
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup sour cream or creme fraiche
Step 1 Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Butter an 8-inch by 10-inch baking dish.
Step 2 Mix pecans, 1/3 cup white sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon, salt, and melted butter thoroughly in a mixing bowl until all components are coated with butter, 3 to 4 minutes.
Step 3 In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda.
Step 4 In another bowl, mix together butter and 1 cup sugar with a spatula until well blended. Add 1 egg and whisk until mixture is smooth, 2 to 3 minutes. Whisk in second egg until thoroughly incorporated. Add vanilla and sour cream; whisk together. Add flour mixture to wet ingredients; whisk until flour disappears (do not over mix).
Step 5 Spread one half of the batter evenly into the bottom of the prepared baking dish. Scatter one half of the crumb mixture evenly over the top of the batter. Top with the rest of the batter and spread carefully to evenly distribute, trying not to disturb the crumbs. Top with the rest of the crumb mixture. Very gently press crumbs into batter. Bake in preheated oven until a bamboo skewer comes out clean, 30 to 35 minutes. Let cool slightly before serving