Jul 27, 2009

Apple-Cinnamon Crumb Coffee Cake

I brought this coffee cake with me to a neighborhood July 4th brunch, so it was actually the first cake of two cakes I ate at different July 4 festivities, but I actually made the tiramisu on July 3, so I blogged about it first.
What is not to like about a sour cream-apple coffee cake? It's an old standard for a good reason--everyone loves it. And it's easy enough to make that you can sleep in, read the paper and have a cup of coffee, mix it up and bake it, and let it cool--all in time to take it to a brunch.

This may be the closest I've come to so far to a cake that you could decide to make with ingredients you have at hand. It uses just one Granny Smith apple, so you can make it all year long, and if you've got walnuts and sour cream, you're all set.
The cinnamon crumb topping is actually both the topping and the filling--
one-half cup of walnuts, brown and white sugar, and cinnamon are reserved for the filling.

The flour and butter are added to the rest of the walnut-sugar mixture and this mixture is set aside, refrigerated, for the topping.
Layer some of the lovely, thick, sour cream batter in the bottom of a cake pan.

Sprinkle with the reserved filling and place a layer of apples on top of the filling.

Then top with the rest of the batter.

When I put it in the oven, Jim said, "Aren't you forgetting something?"
"Aha!" I said. "I am forgetting nothing!"
He thought that I had forgotten the topping, which was chilling in the refrigerator, but the clever twist on this coffee cake is that it's baked until it's about half done and THEN the topping is added. This way, the topping doesn't sink into the coffee cake and it also doesn't get too brown. And Jim will never know whether I actually forgot or not.
After 30 minutes, the cake is maybe 2/3 done.

You're supposed to form some of the crumb topping into tiny circular blobs, but I got bored with trying to form blobs of 1/4-inch diameter, so most of the topping has no man-made crumbles. I don't think was the wiser.

Can you count the number of crumbles that I laboriously pre-formed? I thought not.
I didn't check this recipe against the sour cream coffee cake in The Cake Bible, but it's certainly similar, except for the part about baking it for a while before adding the crumble. When I made The Cake Bible coffee cake, however, the bottom got too brown. This one turned out perfect. There are also variations - peach-cinnamon and blueberry-cinnamon, and it would be hard to go wrong with either of these.
But no more coffee cake for me--I have many, many cakes left to bake, and I can't afford to look back.


Patricia @ ButterYum said...

Wonderful job - looks great! Can't wait for you to post another recipe soon - hint-hint :).

evil cake lady said...

Well I LOVE The Cake Bible's coffee cake (and the bottom was always brown) so this must be at least just as good, if not better!

As for the crumble balls, I'm going to guess 17.

Marie said...

Another recipe will be coming soon.

I loved it too, but the too-brown (close to burned, to tell the truth) kept it from being perfect. It would be a good taste test to make them both and compare, but I'm probably not going to do that.
I think 17 is about as many as I made before I got tired of it.

Melinda said...

Sterling job, Zen Marie. It looks wonderful.
I was wondering if this was similar to the CB recipe. You anticipated my inquiry, which I could actually check out for myself, if I wasn't being such a lazy bum.
I would especially love this with fresh peaches. I can dream and drool.

Marie said...

You made me get off my lazy bum and go compare the recipes, because they didn't seem quite the same.
They're very similar, but this streusel top uses melted butter and TCB uses softened butter. There are a few differences in the batter, too (whole eggs instead of egg yolks, slightly different amounts of flour). I'd love to have someone bake both of them for me, and I'd taste them both to decide which one was better. I think you'd take a bite of one and say, "This is it!" and then you'd take a bite of the other, and say, "No, this one might be a little better." And so on.

doughadear said...

This is a really nice cake. I would love to try it with blueberries but I bet you it would be good with blue plums also.
I've never heard of baking the cake partially and then adding the streusel topping. My only question is, does the topping adhere to the cake or does it fall off when you cut it? Not that it would matter, I was just curious.

Rose Levy Beranbaum said...

after a long day of battling with adobe tech support what a delight to find this new cake posting. so before turning in i'll respond to the several questions re the difference between the coffee cake in TCB and this newish one. though i love the flavor of all yolks i was not happy with the overbrowning of the crust and reasoned that there is so much flavor in this cake it would not be noticeable. i've also been working on finding a way to prevent the crumbs from sinking into the batter and am thrilled with this new technique of adding them part way through the baking. and finally, dede wilson discovered that melting the butter for a crumb topping makes it crisper so i borrowed that idea with credit to her. it is now, in my opinion, the perfect coffee cake and marie has made it perfectly!

Marie said...

See Rose's comment below. It works!

How fascinating to understand the reasons for those little changes. It didn't occur to me that the change from 4 egg yolks to 2 whole eggs would affect crust's browning, but it's absolutely true that this cake was perfectly browned - not at all overdone--even after a very long period of baking. I love this explanation! (I also love reading Cook's Illustrated).

Melinda said...

Thank you, Rose. That was a better comparison than I was expecting and the added information on why you changed things. That's why we love your cakes! Cheers

Cathlyn Pozdol said...

Hi. Would it be possible to get the actual recipe? I don't see a recipe here with ingredients and amounts. cutedevil1_x@live.com Thanks.

Marie said...

I'm sorry--I'd love to be able to give you the recipe, but since I'm trying to go through all the recipes, and because the book hasn't yet been published, I've agreed to give only three of the recipes. I've done two, and there will be another one, probably in late August or early September.

Rhea said...

This is the first recipe that I tried from my newly purchased copy of Heavenly Cakes. I subbed prune plums and cardamom for apple and cinnamon because that's what I had on hand. Great recipe as usual! Tender, not-too-sweet and easy.

Marie said...

The combination of plums and cardamom sounds unbeatable--so glad it turned it well!