Sunday, January 07, 2007

Crunchy Coffee Cake

Last June, I was intrigued by a recipe for a cake that could be prepared three ways, as a cake, a coffee cake and as cupcakes. I bookmarked the webpage, intending to revisit it when the weather cooled off. I have no air conditioning, so baking is out of the question during the summer months. I finally got around to trying one of the variations this weekend. I opted for the coffee cake because I needed something for breakfast.

When I looked more closely at the recipes, I realized that the cake and the cupcake recipes contained no flavorings beyond the usual vanilla extract. The coffee cake recipe, on the other hand, contained both cinnamon and lemon extract in addition to the vanilla extract, a rather odd combination. My motto is that I will try anything once. Who knows, maybe it could turn out to be one of those truly great combos.

The directions for the cake part were a little confusing, perhaps a typo on someone's part. I just plowed ahead. The cake has to be baked for 20 minutes before adding the topping, again rather odd. Even odder, was the fact that the topping contained 1/2 cup of the cake batter. You are supposed to "sprinkle" the topping over the partially baked cake. I found this impossible because the addition of the cake batter made the topping soupy, rather than crumbly. I poured the topping over the cake. It proceeded to run over the sides of the pan. I placed another pan underneath it in the oven to catch the drips.

When I removed the cake from the oven after a further 15 minutes, it just wasn't cooked. There is something drastically wrong with this recipe. Temperature? Cooking time? Both? The outside of the cake was done enough for me to sample it. The lemon flavor was overpowering. The cinnamon flavor was barely discernable, and as I had thought, did not go well with the lemon.

Verdict: What were they thinking???

Crunchy Coffee Cake
(Source: Country Living at

Coffee Cake
1 1/2 cups sifted cake flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon lemon extract
1/2 cup whole milk

4 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons light brown sugar
1/4 cup cake flour
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1. Heat oven to 400 degrees F. Lightly coat an 8-inch cake pan with butter and dust with all-purpose flour.

2. Sift the cake flour, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon into a large mixing bowl. Beat in the butter one heaping 1/4 teaspoonful at a time, using an electric mixer set on low speed, until the mixture resembles coarse sand. Beat in the sugar a tablespoon at a time, until the mixture resembles fine damp sand. Beat in the eggs one at a time.

3. Add the vanilla, lemon extract, and milk, beat on medium high, just until blended. Do not over beat.

4. Set aside 1/2 cup batter. Bake remaining batter in an 8-inch cake pan at 400 degree F for 20 minutes.

5. Make the topping: Cut the 4 tablespoons of butter with the granulated and light-brown sugars, the cake flour, and the cinnamon, and mix with reserved cake batter. Sprinkle over the baking cake and continue to bake until a skewer tests clean and the topping is bubbling - about 15 more minutes.

Recycle: vanilla extract bottle, lemon extract bottle

Compost: eggshells

1 comment:

Tim said...

What were they thinking indeed! Hey it is great to know that I am not the only one that has baking disasters. I say always blame the recipe - however in your case it sounds like the recipe was truely to blame!