From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...The coffee cake we know today was not a unique creation. It evolved in progressions that began with ancient honey cakes and galettes and morphed into the yeasty sweet rolls, crisp Danish and quick breads that we've come to associate with our breakfast and morning coffee today. The concept of a coffee cake, or sweet cake that is served with coffee, probably originated in Europe during the 17th century. We have the Germans, Dutch and Scandinavians to thank for them and immigrants from those countries brought their cakes with them to the new world. The Scandinavians, however, were the group most responsible for making American's a nation of coffee drinkers and coming up with the kind of food that goes well with pots of the steaming brew. While German women brought the Kaffeeklatcsh, an occasion that combined gossip and coffee drinking to the new world, the pot of coffee brewing on the back of stoves in Scandinavian kitchens became synonymous with hospitality and became America's version of England's tea. Despite waves of immigration the term coffee cake was not used until 1879 when it began to appear now historic cookbooks. Following World War II, promotional campaigns sponsored by organizations representing coffee importers highlighted coffee breaks and the assortment of plain cakes served during those breaks were renamed coffee cakes and recipes for them became popular in home kitchens. The recipe I'm featuring today is one of those recipes. It was developed by Nick Malgieri for Saveur magazine. It is a lovely cake and very easy to make.The cake layer is topped by a thick, almost obscene, layer of crumb topping that I think you will love. The crumb layer is so thick that it is hard to tell when the cake is done and I let mine bake for an additional 10 minutes. The next time I make this cake I plan to use a larger pan and cut back on the amount of streusel I place on top of it. There is such a thing as wretched excess. Having said that, I must again say this cake is delicious and I think those of you try this recipe will be more than happy with the results. Easter is coming and this would be a great addition to your breakfast or brunch table. Here is how the cake is made.
Coffee Crumb Cake...from the kitchen of One Perfect Bite courtesy of Nick Malgieri and Saveur magazine
1-1/2 cups flour
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
12 tablespoons unsalted butter, cubed and chilled
1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened, plus more for pan
2 cups flour, plus more for pan
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2/3 cup milk
1) To make crumb topping: Whisk together flour, sugar, cinnamon, baking powder, and salt in a bowl. Add butter, and rub into flour mixture with your fingers until large clumps form. Stir in walnuts, and refrigerate until ready to use.
2) To make cake layer: Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour an 8 x 8-inch baking pan and set aside. Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl and set aside. Beat butter, sugar, and vanilla in another bowl on medium-high speed with a hand mixer until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add egg; beat until smooth. Alternately add dry ingredients and milk in 3 batches, beginning and ending with dry ingredients and beating after each addition until just combined. Scrape batter into pan. Smooth top. Break topping up into large clumps and sprinkle evenly over batter. Bake until topping is lightly browned and a toothpick inserted in middle comes out clean, about 40 minutes. Yield: 10 servings.
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