Sometimes when you’re in a bit of a funk, there’s only one thing to do.
Bake your way out of it.
The timing’s right for it. The rains have descended and it looks like we’re all going to be spending a lot more time inside. Reading.
Drinking hot beverages. Stuffing our faces.
I was reminded of that fact when yesterday I spotted various snack cakes at a grocery store.
Wow — they’re still making those? Including those little mini-coffee cakes?
I may be dating myself here, but when I hear the word “Drake“, my first thought isn’t that of the singer, but of those coffee cakes of my youth.
As you can see by the above pic, Drake’s Coffee Cakes were little round nubbins of crumbly topping and a soft, pillowy base, wrapped in plastic, and as a young kid I thought they were absolutely delicious. Now, I’ve had them since but with an expanded palate and thirty years of crumb cake-eating under my belt, I can see them now for what they are: promising at first glance but with a somewhat artificial tasting finish.
I knew I could do better because I’ve had better — including during our New York trip in March from Murray’s.
I searched the Web.
I wanted a coffee cake with a rich buttermilk base yet that still boasted a delicate crumb and delivered powerfully cinnamon-y goodness.
I found the recipe on this blog, Sally’s Baking Addiction.
I’ve tried one of her recipes before, and so I was reasonably confident I’d end up again with something good.
So here’s the recipe in a nutshell.
Gather all the ingredients.
It’s important that the buttermilk and eggs be room temperature and the butter be very cold (just as it is with biscuit making).
You mix the butter in with the flour, then separate that mixture into two sections.
The first part gets baking powder and soda plus buttermilk, vanilla and egg added to it to create the cake base. The second part of the flour-butter mixture gets cinnamon and brown sugar added to it to make the crumb topping.
I like my coffee cakes very cinnamon-y, but if you aren’t on that same bandwagon, feel free to whittle down the amount of this pungent spice.
You then add the batter to the bowl and top it liberally with the crumb topping and then into a preheated 350 oven it goes for about 45-50 minutes.
The smell of butter, vanilla and cinnamon as you pull it out of the oven is insane
and even though the recipe calls for you to let it sit for a few minutes before digging in, I found it impossible to wait.
I made a confectioner’s sugar icing with a tiny bit of maple syrup and vanilla and drizzled it all over the cake.
It smelled heavenly!
I ate that first piece standing up at the kitchen counter, too greedy and too hungry to wait to for it to cool down or even grab a chair.
The cake is so moist and buttery (thanks, buttermilk!) and then there’s this thick, crunchy, deeply autumnally tasting mantle of crisp crumb topping.
And when certain bites of this sport an almost 1:1 ratio of crumb to cake, it’s a very happy thing.
Are you planning on hosting a brunch any time soon?
Do you want to shower neighbors and school kids with a fantastic afternoon treat?
Or have you a friend you’d like to wake up to a little golden-crumbed goodness?
Then this is the cake for you– just don’t count on having any leftovers.
Okay, so now it’s fall? Bring it.
- 1 Tbs. Flour, for coating the pan
- 2 C. all-purpose flour
- 1 C. + 2 Tbs. granulated sugar
- 1 tsp. salt
- 10 Tbs. (1¼ stick) unsalted butter, firm and cold
- 1 tsp. baking powder
- ½ tsp. baking soda
- ¾ C. buttermilk, at room temperature
- 1 large egg, at room temperature
- 2 tsp. vanilla
- ⅔ C. light or brown sugar
- 2 tsp. ground cinnamon
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Generously spray a 9-inch springform pan (or baking dish) with cooking spray or grease with butter. Sprinkle the bottom of the pan with 1 Tbs. of flour and tap out the excess.
- Whisk the flour, sugar, and salt together in a large mixiing bowl until combined. Cut in the butter in very small piecs using a pastry blender or mix with a fork until the mixture resentmbles coarse crumbs. Set aside 1 cup of the butter/flour mxture.
- Mix the baking powder and baking soda into the remaining flour mixture. Add the room temperature buttermilk, egg and vanilla -- you may want to do this with a mixer. The batter is very, very thick. Vigorously mix everything together until the batter is smooth, fluffy and resembles frosting-- about 2 full minutes. Spoon the batter into the prepared springform pan, smoothing the top.
- Add the brown sugar and cinnamon to the reserved flour mixture. Toss with a fork until well blended. Sprinkle the curmbs over the batter, pressingly lightly so they stick. Bake the cake until the center is firm and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean -- about 50-58 minutes (mine only took 47 minutes).
- Allow to cool for 10 minutes, then remove the sides of the springform pan and allow cake to cool completely before serving (about 2 hours).
- Make ahead tip: Cake tastes best on day 1 or day 2. The cake may be made in advance. Store covered at room temperature for up to 1 week.