Sour Cream Coffee Cake*

I love coffee cake.  I was one of my favorite things that my mom made growing up, and was always such a treat for breakfast with a nice, thick, smear of butter on top.  But then I moved away from home and didn’t get to have coffee cake nearly enough.  I tried a few recipes, but they were never quite right.  And then one day we went to a friend’s house for dinner and she made coffee cake and it was right!  So now that she knows I like it she makes it quite often.  Lucky me!  Then another friend linked me to a cooking article, with a coffee cake recipe that looked very similar to her’s.  This recipe comes right out of Michele Kayal’s article for NPR about showing compassion through food (an idea I whole-heartily endorse).  I made a few adaptions to the recipe below, most importantly, we never keep sour cream in the house, so I used plain yogurt instead (which we always have in the house) — worked perfectly.  I also cut the recipe in half and made it in a small bread pan, and omitted the salt in both the streusel and the cake because I used salted butter. I definitely recommend reading Kayal’s article and making this cake!

Streusel Topping
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
2/3 cup finely chopped walnuts or pecans
2/3 cup packed light brown sugar or white sugar, or a combination
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt

Combine the flour, nuts, sugar, butter, cinnamon and salt in a bowl, using a fork until it resembles coarse crumbs. Put in the refrigerator.

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs

Have all ingredients at room temperature (this is very important for the texture of the cake, which is its strongest feature, so don’t skip it). Position a rack in the lower third of the oven. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 13-by-9-inch pan.

Prepare the streusel first.

For the cake, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

In a small bowl, combine the sour cream and vanilla.

In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar at high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 or 4 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing thoroughly after each addition.

Add the flour mixture in 3 parts, alternating with the sour cream mixture in 2 parts, beating on low speed until just smooth, and scraping the sides of the bowl as necessary. Scrape the batter into the pan and spread evenly.

Remove the streusel from the refrigerator and sprinkle evenly across the top.

Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes. Let cool briefly in the pan on a rack. Serve warm, or reheat for a few seconds in the microwave before serving.

*No actual sour cream was used in the production of this cake


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