Monday, March 21, 2011
Loser's Coffee Cake
The weekend before last I used the sunny weather as an excuse to make a berry pie which was good, but not perfect. This past weekend I woke to darkness, the sky thickened by fog as snow slowly melted. It began raining gloom, exposing more dirt and dog doo along our sidewalk. It’s kind of disgusting to walk your dog, leash in one hand and loaded bag swinging in the other. Most owners responsibly pick up, and seriously, I don’t watch them, you know. But this one guy, owner of a big ruffy dog, without a bag, annoyed me a little when he paused right in front of the kitchen window as I was doing dishes. No way to pick that up and too loose to kick onto the street. He needed a giant leaf bag bag, but I grabbed what was handy and ran out to offer it. I’m glad I curtailed my spleen because he was very shame-faced and kind of sweet. Sometimes it’s embarrassing to be imperfect. Big aside.
Once again, I was using the weather as an excuse to bake something. Why should I do that? It really doesn’t matter what the weather is. It’s March. We’re all mentally ill from lack of sun. Just watch, next I’ll be complaining about how hot it is. But while it’s still chilly and with Easter coming, it’s time to make the one coffee cake I’ll make all season. The one that has a crunchy cinnamon-y wave through the middle of a moist sweet inside and crispy golden crust outside.
I found a recipe on the web called Loser’s Coffee Cake. Not because the recipe is a loser, they said, but if you are. It was acclaimed as super-easy and so good, a no-fail. I have an affinity for losers whether we’re talking about the kitchen or figuring out where the volume button is in iTunes. The concept attracts me. So I made it.
When I could handle it without getting third degree burns we ate a piece. And someone ate another, not me. I was thinking: this IS a loser recipe. It’s not that good. But why would that be? As I remembered, the old recipe, buried somewhere in my archives, had all the same ingredients. Excepting chocolate chips. I left them out because coffee cake should not have them. It’s wrong. It had to be something else, not the chocolate. So I dug out the old recipe from Nancy Fyke to compare. The difference was: twice as much sugar, a little more fat, and twice the amount of cinnamon filling and topping.
So. If you’re going to make a coffee cake, and it comes once a year, perhaps on Christmas or Easter morning, then don’t skimp on this, just go for it. I mean. It really DOES make a difference.
Here’s the winner’s recipe – No more difficult than the “Loser’s” and way, WAY better.
Sour Cream Coffee Cake
1 c. butter softened
2 c. sugar
2 c. flour
1 c. (8 ounces) sour cream
1 t. baking powder
1 t. vanilla
½ t. salt
Cream butter, sugar and vanilla beating until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating after each addition. Add half the dry ingredients and stir with a spoon until blended. Add sour cream, blend with spoon. Add remaining dry ingredients. Do same thing. Don’t over stir.
1/2 c. sugar
1/3 c. brown sugar
2 T (tablespoons) cinnamon
1/2 c. chopped almonds or other nuts
Combine all ingredients in small bowl.
Sprinkle 1/3 of the cinnamon mixture in bottom of a well-greased, floured Bundt pan (you can use a 9x13 cake pan, but then skip putting the cinnamon mixture on the bottom and add to middle and top only). Spoon in half the batter. Sprinkle with another third of the mixture. Add remaining batter. Top with final third of cinnamon mixture. Bake at 350 degrees for 60 -75 minutes. Cool 1 hour before removing from pan. (Otherwise it comes out in chunks. I know from another of my loser experiences. Still tastes good but looks like a squirrel dug it up.) Also. This might look like any old boring coffee cake, but it is fantastic.