Yesterday, I had a crummy, stressful day at work. It was one of those days when the higher-ups are freaking out about an impossible deadline at the end of the week, getting everyone else all stirred up and anxious, only to find out later that the deadline is actually two weeks away. It was frustrating and tiring. My cure? Baking, of course.
My husband had an even worse day, not coming home until 9:30pm (we usually leave work around 5). He had asked me over the weekend that my next baking project be a coffee cake, so I wanted to surprise him with a fabulous coffee cake when he finally got home. I knew just the right one: Michelle of Brown Eyed Baker blogged about an amazing coffee cake from Ina Garten a while back, and I’d been waiting for a chance to make it.
James is a big fan of streusel topping, so I knew this cake would make him happy. Not only does it have piles of cinnamon-y, nutty streusel on top, and a layer on streusel in the middle, it’s topped off with a maple glaze. Seriously. How does it get any better than that?
I was surprised that the recipe calls for cake flour rather than all purpose, and that you sift it too. I guess I’m used to dense coffee cakes with a texture more like pound cake. The light texture, the slight tang from the sour cream, the cinnamon-y struesel and the yummy maple glaze definitely make this a coffee cake with “the volume turned up,” as Ina likes to say. It’s awesome when it’s still slightly warm, too.
Oh, and when James came home from work, the first thing he did was exclaim about how yummy the house smelled.
Yield: 8 to 10 servings
12 tablespoons (1½ sticks) unsalted butter at room temperature
1½ cups granulated sugar
3 extra-large eggs at room temperature
1½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1¼ cups sour cream
2½ cups cake flour (not self-rising)
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
For the streusel:
¼ cup light brown sugar, packed
½ cup all-purpose flour
1½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
¾ cup chopped walnuts, optional
For the glaze:
½ cup confectioners’ sugar
2 tablespoons real maple syrup
Preheat the oven to 350° F. Grease and flour a 10-inch tube pan.
Cream the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment for 4 to 5 minutes, until light. Add the eggs 1 at a time, then add the vanilla and sour cream. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. With the mixer on low, add the flour mixture to the batter until just combined. Finish stirring with a spatula to be sure the batter is completely mixed.
For the streusel, place the brown sugar, flour, cinnamon, salt, and butter in a bowl and pinch together with your fingers until it forms a crumble. Mix in the walnuts, if desired.
Spoon half the batter into the pan and spread it out with a knife. Sprinkle with 3/4 cup streusel. Spoon the rest of the batter in the pan, spread it out, and scatter the remaining streusel on top. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean.
Let cool on a wire rack for at least 30 minutes. Carefully transfer the cake, streusel side up, onto a serving plate. Whisk the confectioners’ sugar and maple syrup together, adding a few drops of water if necessary, to make the glaze runny. Drizzle as much as you like over the cake with a fork or spoon.