Monday, January 3, 2011

Cuisine: Sinfully Spiced Coffee Cake & Shameful Streusel Topping!

For me, there is nothing more wonderful than a warm piece of coffee cake with a pot of french pressed coffee in the morning. I love biting into a warm piece of moist, spiced cake with a buttery crumbly topping and then sipping coffee mixed with cream. It is my idea of heaven.

I have tasted coffee cakes from any bakeries, coffee shops, and brunch spots across the Bay Area and beyond. All of them love sugar. They tend to be really sweet. Some are light and airy while others are dense almost like a biscuit. While I love these coffee cakes, I wanted something different. I wanted a coffee cake that was, instead of sweet, spicy.

I started with a recipe from All Recipes. But like everything I make I can't follow the recipe per se. I could tell that the recipe was going to be really, really sweet. It called for all sorts of sugars, and I knew I would have to change it p a bit. It did have one thing I didn't expect: actual coffee in the coffee cake.

Using their inspiration of brewing coffee in the milk, I started there. Then, I tossed in a little bit of The Whirling Berliner, a The S. Kitchen spice blend. If you don't have The Whirling Berliner you can substitute cinnamon, ground ginger, black pepper, cardamon, or whatever spices you have in your kitchen. I reduced the sugar a bit and subbed the shortening for butter. The cake batter turned out to be that perfect blend of melt in your mouth and fluffily airy.

Then, I needed to create a streusal topping for the coffee cake. I have a horrible time making streusal topping. For some reason, I can never get the recipes that call for cold butter to really work. I've used my food processor, a stand mixer, my hands, a pastry knife, and a blender throughout the years trying to make it work. And it never turns out the way I want it too: the butter just kind of melts everywhere.

Well, the recipe I used for inspiration called for melted butter. It was a new technique that I wanted to try. Every other cooking show and recipe always calls for cold butter. I wondered what would happen if I made it according to the directions. Or more like the recipe instructions than not. The modifications I made were a reduction in the amount of sugar, a slight increase in the amount of salt, and the addition of The Whirling Berliner.

All I can say is, "WOW!" This streusal topping is everything I hope for in a streusal topping: there are small pieces that just pop on your tongue, larger chunks that you can bite into and melt in your mouth. It is a little piece of joy every time you bite into it.

Phase One: Spiced Coffee Cake
You Will Need:
2 cups All Purpose Flour
1 tsp. Whirling Berliner
1/2 tsp. Baking Soda
1/2 tsp. Salt
1/2 cup Butter, softened
3/4 cup Brown Sugar,firmly packed
2/3 cup White Sugar
2 Large Eggs
1 tsp. Vanilla Extract
1 1/2 cups Buttermilk
6 Tbsp. ground coffee

What To Do:
Sift flour, spices, salt, and baking soda together. Set aside.

In a sauce pot, combine 1 cup buttermilk and coffee grounds. Bring to a slow boil. Let steep 5 minutes. Strain through a fine strainer. Should be about 1/2 cup of liquid. Add the rest of the buttermilk to make 1 cup.

Cream butter and sugars together with a mixer until the texture is light and airy. Whip eggs with vanilla until frothy. Add this froth to the sugar mixture and mix on medium high until combined and liquidy.

Fold flour, butter, and milk mixtures together alternating between all three until well combined. Make sure not to over stir. Batter will be thick and and slightly runny. It is thicker than pancake batter but not as thick as biscuits.

Prepare an 8" square baking dish. Heat oven to 350 degrees.

Phase Two: Streusal Topping
You Will Need:
1/3 cup Sugar
1/3 cup Brown Sugar
1 1/2 tsp. Whirling Berliner (or combination of cinnamon, clove, ground ginger, etc.)
1/4 tsp. Salt
1 1/2 cup Flour
1/2 cup melted Butter, cooled slightly

What To Do:
Mix all ingredients together by hand until crumbly. Pieces should vary in size from sand sized to grape sized.

Phase Three: Assembly and Baking
You Will Need:
Spiced Coffee Cake Batter
Streusal Topping

What To Do:
Pour batter into baking dish. Sprinkle crumble on top, making sure all coffee cake is covered.

Bake for 35-45 minutes.

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