SWEET, EASY BEGINNINGS
Nothing is simpler than coffee cake. Simple to make and simple in its very essence. It starts with a no-frills, not-too-sweet cake, like the moister version of a muffin, the perfect base for the sugary, crunchy streusel topping. Lots of brown sugar and cinnamon, of course, held together with flour and lots of rich butter. From there, let your imagination run wild. Tickle your taste buds with sharp, tangy cranberries or soothe your soul with chocolate and nuts, that homiest of comfort foods.
This is a recipe I turn to over and over again, an adaptation from the most wonderful Joy of Cooking. It is a snap to put together and enjoyed by all, whether for breakfast or snack.
I always make this cake with mini chocolate chips swirling through the streusel. When I can get around a husband who is allergic to nuts, I add chopped pecans. Since it is the winter holiday season, I decided to make this more festive version using the last bag of cranberries I had in my freezer which can be so easily replaced with blueberries in the summertime. Either way, it is truly the ultimate comfort food, warm and cozy to wake up to in the morning or a calming, inspiring treat to pair up with your afternoon tea or coffee (of course).
QUICK ALL-OCCASION COFFEE CAKE
1 1/2 cups (150 g) flour
2 tsps baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
4 Tbs (1/4 cup, 60 g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1/3 cup (75 g) sugar (or anywhere from 1/4 to 1/2 cup - 50 -100 g to taste)
1 large egg
2/3 cup (150 ml) milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 Tbs (30 g) unsalted butter, cold
2 Tbs flour
4 - 5 Tbs sugar*
1/2 - 1 tsp ground cinnamon
Addition - handful or 2 of fresh cranberries or blueberries, mini-chocolate chips, chopped pecan or walnut meat, those are my favorites
* I normally use a mixture of light and dark, either half and half or 4 Tbs light + 1 Tbs dark
Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C).
Grease an 8 1/2-inch (22 cm) round springform pan - or a 9 x 9-inch (23 x 23 cm) square pan or similar.
Prepare the Streusel Topping :
Put all the streusel ingredients in a small robot mixer and spin just until a homogeneous crumb forms - if it is overworked it may clump. Set aside.
Prepare the cake :
In a small bowl, stir the flour, baking powder and salt together.
In a larger mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the egg and blend well. Add the vanilla.
Now beat in the dry ingredients in 3 additions, alternating with the milk in 2 additions. Give a good beating until well blended and creamy!
Pour the batter into the greased pan, spread it evenly. Sprinkle the cranberries or mini chocolate chips and nuts evenly over the top. Now sprinkle the streusel evenly over the top making sure that it goes all the way to the edges.
Bake for at least 25 minutes* until a tester inserted in the center all through the cake comes out clean (except for the streusel which may cling to it). Remove from oven onto a rack and let cool in pan for 10 - 15 minutes. At this time, remove the ring from the springform and allow to finish cooling before sliding or lifting it carefully off the bottom and onto a serving platter.
* strangely enough, I have had this cake done anywhere from 25 to 50 minutes and can’t explain why. I also have varying results when making the streusel; sometimes it is clumpy and sometimes more like sand. Both work.