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Saturday, December 10, 2011

Cinnamon Coffee Cake

It seems like forever since I posted anything! Normally, this time of year I'm knee deep in baking for the holidays. Unfortunately, events have transpired to put a hitch in my holiday baking plans.

The day after Thanksgiving Michael wasn't feeling well. Actually, he hadn't been feeling well for a couple months. He was complaining of shortness of breath and a dry cough that kept him up at night. His doctor diagnosed "Post Viral Cough" which supposedly is a cough that hangs around after a cold or the flu. Finally, it was bad enough that he was exhausted and could barely go from room to room without having to rest. The Friday after Thanksgiving he deigned to go to the ER at University Medical Center.

The doctors and residents were able to figure out this wasn't a "Post Viral Cough" but rather congestive heart failure. Long story short they discovered he has several things wrong with his heart. He spent a few days in the hospital and is now on a number of medications as they try to rehabilitate his heart and let it strengthen and repair. He's also on a new "heart healthy" and low sodium diet. Obviously, that is challenge for me in the kitchen since my cooking fortes are Southern and French - meaning a stick of butter or a cup of cream in pretty much everything! But, I'm trying and so far he's liked my low sodium and heart healthy dishes.

Obviously, with all this going on my baking has taken a big hit. I had planned to do big trays for friends, family, and others but have had to put that on hold because I've fallen so far behind.

I did manage to throw together a little snack cake/coffee cake this morning, though. I really love this cake and have made it a couple times. In fact, it was going to go up right after Thanksgiving but, well, you already know. The original recipe was found in the Penzey's Spices catalog. We have one of their stores a few blocks from here and I've become a big fan. Their spices are so fresh and interesting. I simply won't buy grocery store spices now. Their catalog is wonderful and full of great recipes, too.

In this recipe I use their Ceylon Cinnamon which is one of the few true cinnamons available today. The Ceylon variety is very popular in Europe where it's complex and soft flavor are more appreciated than the overpowering cinnamon used here in the states. I adore the citrus notes that can be tasted in this variety and it has become my "go to" cinnamon for use in my traditional recipes. I highly recommend giving this one a try.

I've also become a big fan of Penzey's Mexican Vanilla extract. The first time I opened a bottle of this stuff in the store and took a whiff I was blown away! It has an incredibly complex and floral scent. The taste is also incredibly smooth with none of that slight alcohol bite you find in many supermarket vanilla extracts. Unfortunately, they don't seem to have this one available in their online store.

This little cake is really easy to throw together in a few minutes and pop in the oven for a wonderful breakfast dessert, brunch, or coffee break. It even works if you forget the cinnamon which I admit I have done! In that case it has a lovely buttery flavor that shines through and the brown sugar and vanilla streusel (sans cinnamon) is very rich with hints of molasses flavors. So, if you want to purposely leave out the cinnamon you can have a whole different flavor experience with the same cake!

: Cinnamon Coffee Cake
: A buttery and spicy cake perfect with coffee or as a breakfast or brunch dessert.

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. kosher salt
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter (cold)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
 Streusel
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • 2 tbs. flour
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 2 tbs. melted butter
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans (optional)

  1. Preheat oven to 375°. Grease and flour an 8x8-inch baking pan.
  2. In bowl of electric mixer fitted with paddle attachment stir together flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar. Cut butter into small pieces and add to dry ingredients. Beat at low to medium speed until the mixture resembles cornmeal.
  3. In 2 cup measuring cup, whisk together the egg, milk, and vanilla. Add to dry ingredients and beat on low speed just until combined.
  4. Pour half of mixture into prepared pan.
  5. In a small bowl mix together the ingredients for the streusel. Sprinkle half of the streusel mixture evenly over the batter in the pan.
  6. Top the streusel with the remaining cake batter and smooth the top. Sprinkle remainder of the streusel mixture over the top of the cake.
  7. Bake in 375° oven for 20-30 minutes or until cake is golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  8. Allow to cool in the pan about 5-10 minutes then invert on a plate. Invert again on a wire rack and allow to cool. Cut in 2 inch squares and serve.

The batter can be made up to a day ahead and refrigerated in the pan covered with plastic wrap. To prepare the refrigerated cake: reduce the oven temperature to 350° and bake an extra 15 minutes or until done.

Preparation time: 10 minute(s)
Cooking time: 30 minute(s)
Number of servings (yield): 8
Culinary tradition: USA (General)

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