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Coffee Cake

Coffee CakeA certain bloggy friend of mine has brought to my attention that the lovely Jen from Blissfully Caffeinated had her little bundle o’ joy last week, and she wasn’t doing too terribly well when the blessed event occurred.  As a result, another lovely blogger, Oscarelli, is generously hosting a carnival today as sort of a huge, cyber “Get Well” card where we are all invited to do a post about, well, coffee.

Here is mine, and in the spirit of the week, I’m also posting my very favorite Coffee Cake recipe for my week-long celebration of the Recipe Spin Cycle (aren’t ya’ll glad it’s Friday??).

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I was in my mid-thirties before I became a coffee drinker.  I simply hated the stuff as a kid and could not for the life of me understand how my grandparents could drink it constantly.  When I became an adult, I drank Coke for my caffeine fix (I am a bit of an outcast in my family – I don’t think the sun rises and sets on Dr. Pepper), then after I lost a great deal of weight, Diet Coke.

Then, around the time I turned 35, I began dating a Canadian Mennonite Chemist (yeah, I know it sounds like the beginning of a bad dirty joke, but it’s true).  Anyhoo, he loved coffee, drank a lot of coffee and 95% of what we did when we went out included going somewhere for a cup of coffee.  To keep him company, I decided to try coffee again and found that my adult palate tolerated it fairly well – in fact, I decided I liked it.  A LOT.

Once I’d had a cup of coffee (yes, with cream and sugar) and a chocolate croissant, I knew I’d discovered Nirvana…or at least Pearl Jam.

My Next Big Coffee Discovery was New Orleans style coffee with chicory.  A friend of mine at work introduced me to French Market Coffee, and it is to die for – I love it and it has been my coffee of preference ever since.   Not too long after that, another coworker introduced me to Starbucks, and while I can’t stand their regular coffee (good gawd, you could use that stuff to strip varnish off of your furniture) before I knew it I found myself uttering phrases like “Triple Venti White Chocolate Mocha Extra Hot No Whipped Cream” and people were peeling me off of the ceiling an hour later.

But no matter your coffee preferences, it is always nice to have something to nosh while you’re drinking it.  Why not coffee cake?  This one is so very, very good.  A little involved, yes, but oh – so worth it.  Leftovers freeze fairly well, and if you don’t care for nuts or can’t eat them, just leave them out; it will still be quite tasty.

Note:  If you use a Greek-style yogurt, such as Fage (which I just love), mix the batter either with a hand mixer or in the bowl of the stand mixer; the thick consistency of the yogurt makes it too difficult to beat by hand.

Coffee Cake

serves 8 – 10

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar

1 teaspoon salt

10 tablespoons cold, unsalted butter cut into 1/2″ cubes

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

3/4 cup buttermilk or yogurt

1 large egg

1 teaspoon vanilla

3/4 cup chopped pecans or walnuts

1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Have all ingredients (except butter) at room temperature; position a rack in the center of the oven.  Preheat the oven to 350° F.  Generously grease and flour the bottom of a 10″ springform pan; lightly grease the sides.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar and salt until well blended.  Cut the butter in with a pastry blender or two knifes until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.  Remove 1 cup of the mixture to a separate bowl and set aside.

Add to the remaining flour/butter mixture the baking powder and baking soda and whisk well; then add the buttermilk or yogurt, egg and vanilla.  Whisk vigorously (or mix with a mixer) until the batter is smooth and fluffy.  Scrape the batter into the prepared springform pan and smooth the top.

For the topping, added the nuts, brown sugar and cinnamon to the reserved crumb mixture and toss with a fork until well blended.  Sprinkle the topping evenly over the batter.

Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, or until a skewer or knife inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.  Let cool in the pan on a rack for 5 to 10 minutes; slide a slim knife or flexible spatula around the outer edge of the cake to detach it from the pan.  Remove the ring and let cool for at least 30 minutes before serving.





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