Sour Cream Coffee Cake
It’s been a big, long year with far too many uncertainties and far too few blog posts. Since the last time I wrote (in June, I’m embarrassed to remind you), lots has changed but some important things have stayed the same. Things like how much I love a good cake hanging around the house. Seeing as Stella and I are back in the States for a drawn-out Christmas vacation, seeing as I just finished law school and seeing as we have only six weeks of wintery, oven-appropriate weather ahead of us, the time is ripe for baking.
There is something so quintessentially American about coffee cake. Maybe it’s the fact that you can get it in most diners, or maybe it’s because you have to be American to know there’s no coffee in it. It seemed the perfect first thing to bake, to break me in again. I haven’t had the time, place or wherewithal to bake in a long time. Making this cake reminded me of why I love baking so much: the cinnamon smell seeping through the house, the well-worn measuring spoons, the uselessness and necessity of it. The time it takes, the bowls it breaks, the used knife left by the cake stand for those hasty, uncounted slices.
I don’t remember where this recipe comes from, but I know I’ve been making it for a long time. It’s pretty much the perfect coffee cake: moist and sweet, with a buttery cinnamon-rich streusel in the middle. It’s good cut thick with coffee (hence the name, all you non-natives), tea or milk, or on its own, in tiny, hit-and-run slices. It’s perfect for Sunday afternoon and Monday morning. For coming home and missing home. For those times when we are just lucky enough that, even with everything in motion, the important things stay the same.
SOUR CREAM COFFEE CAKE
1/4 light brown sugar
1/4 white sugar
1/2 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup (1/2 stick // 55 grams) butter, cold in small chunks
optional: 1 apple, chopped finely and/or 1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts
2 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup (1 stick // 110 grams) butter, softened
1 cup white sugar
1 cup sour cream (or plain, full-fat yogurt)
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup milk
Preheat oven to 350F/180C. Butter thoroughly a bundt pan or square cake pan.
To make the streusel, combine all the ingredients except the butter to mix. Add in the chunks of butter and use your fingers to mix it in, until the mixture looks like coarse crumbs. Add the chopped apple and/or walnuts if using. Set aside.
To make the cake, in a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In a larger bowl, cream the butter and sugar until light, then add the eggs and mix to combine. Add the sour cream, vanilla and milk and mix well. Add the flour mixture to this, and mix to combine.
Spoon 1/2 of the dough into the prepared cake tin. Sprinkle 1/2 of the streusel on top, then the remaining dough and, finally, the remaining streusel. Bake in the preheated oven for 40 – 45 minutes, or until an inserted tester comes out clean. Allow to cool in the pan before inverting onto a cake plate.