Jan 11, 2010

Chocolate Streusel Coffee Cake

I try to mix up the cakes (no pun intended), so that I don't have two chocolate cakes or two cheesecakes in a row, but I didn't do so well in the mixing department with my choice of chocolate streusel coffee cake right after the whipped cream cake. They're not the same cake, but they're both pound-like cakes made in a bundt pan. The reason I had to have the coffee cake in January is that every January, Jim and I host morning coffee open-houses each Saturday of the month (that's five Saturdays this year). Any neighbor who feels like having a cup of coffee or tea, a doughnut or something homemade, and a little conversation drops in sometime Saturday morning.
It is now expected that I bake something different every Saturday morning, and believe me, if something isn't up to snuff, they let me know. The only Heavenly Cake that was likely Saturday morning fare was this coffee cake, which worked just fine. For those of you who don't have people stopping by your house on Saturday mornoing, this cake also works quite well as dessert or a sweet bite with a cup of tea. But it really shines on a cold Saturday morning.

Just last week, I was at Kowalski's and I spotted a little bag of muscovado sugar. This sugar, which comes from Maritius, is not that easy to come by in the upper midwest, so I picked up the packet. Mauritius, an island off Madagascar, is famous for being the only known home of the dodo, which is, of course, sadly extinct. Is it possible that the dodo is extinct because it ate too much muscovado sugar? I would guess not, but stranger things have happened.
Anyway, I was delighted to see that the first cake recipe on the agenda since my purchase of muscovado sugar called for that self-same sugar. Never mind that the recipe called for light muscovado sugar and I had dark--I was going to use it anyway. I don't think that light brown sugar would have made it any better, and I'm going to go out on a limb and recommend that you use dark brown sugar--but only if it's Muscovado from Mauritius.
Like the whipped cream cake, this is easy to mix up.

The streusel is just cocoa, sugar (Mauritian Muscovado), and a little cinnamon. And the batter is one that you'd use for a standard sour-cream coffee cake.

The only reason for this cake not being on the Quick-and-Easy list, as far as I can figure out, is the step of putting half the batter in the cake pan (or in the cupcake pan--the recipe makes one small cake plus two cupcakes), a ring of streusel in the middle, and then topping it with more batter.

But this is such an easy step that I question whether its inclusion is a good enough reason for its banishment from Q&E. Making the caramelized cocoa nibs was harder, and yet the chocolate financiers are still on The List.
The cupcakes were so small that I wished I had just ignored the instruction to make two. But, as it turned ouot, the cake came almost to the top of the six-cup Bundt pan, so I was glad I'd dutifully followed the rules.

Usually when I turn over a pan that's been sprayed with Baker's Joy, the cake pops right out. This time, I turned it over and the cake stayed put. This made me anxious because I'd become so confident about that step I forgot to get preemptively nervous. After I played around with it using a sharp knife, the pan released its hold on the cake, and out it came.
You can see that I lost more tiny pieces to the pan than I did with the whipped cream cake, which released nearly perfectly.
And here is the cake next to a platter of doughnuts.
Sometimes people worry about hurting my feelings, and they take a piece of whatever I've baked, but they really want a doughnut, so they have to have that too. Or vice versa. I'm proud of being the neighborhood supplier.


Robert: "Nice and moist--very smooth-tasting."
Megan: "The chocolate is subtly laced with cinnamon, and it's got a rich vanilla taste."
Jim: "The chocolate layer is really good. I like the difference in texture between the cake and the filling. It's a good cake."


doughadear said...

I think this is the third year that I wish I were your neighbour. Oh well at least I get to hear about it. Once again your cake is beautiful, I'm sorry though that it gave you a bit of grief getting it out. The same thing happen to me when I baked the fabulous Whipped Cream Cake only mine didn't release with some knife probing. I posted it so I hope you check it out.

Melinda said...

I'd have a doughnut in my left hand and coffee cake in my right hand and a cinnamon pop-over held in my mouth. I'd get you to carry my mug of coffee to the comfy chair and then I would be happy as Larry!
The cake turned out lovely.

Mendy said...


Looks great Marie. You are a streusel maven!

The dodo is dearly missed. At least the we have the sugar for consolation.

Marie said...

I had to look up "happy as Larry," which is, as I expected, an expression known in the UK, but not in the US. Here's what I found: "The expression is most likely to be of Australian or New Zealand origin. The earliest printed reference currently known is from the New Zealand writer G. L. Meredith, dating from around 1875:
"We would be as happy as Larry if it were not for the rats"."

It's true that you don't want the rats around, especially if you're balancing streusel cake, popovers, and doughnuts!

I've always wanted to be some kind of maven, so streusel maven it shall be! Thank you.

Fabiana Di Polo said...

Hi! I love your blog, i ckeck it once a week!! This cake looks awesome, i would really like to try this recipe, could you share it? Im from Venezuela by the way and my english is not so good!

evil cake lady said...

oh Melinda, you are hilarious!

my roommate is moving to New Zealand in a couple of weeks so I'll tell her about happy as Larry! thanks to you and Melinda, she'll fit right in.

perhaps when i move (which i'll be doing when the roommate moves out) i'll start a sunday open house to feed people heavenly cakes. i hope you don't mind, marie, if i copy you?

i haven't yet baked this cake but hope to get on it later tonight! hopefully mine will look as pretty as yours, but in cupcake form.

faithy said...

LOL! your posts always make me laugh out so loudly in office. Your bundt cake looks gorgeous! I did mine in a mini bundt cos i don't have a 6 cup one..i think mine is at least a 12-14 cup one.. I really like this cake..i think it's just heavenly!

Shoshana said...

Thanks for picking this cake, it was great! What a wonderful idea to have weekend open houses, especially with homemade baked goods. It sounds like you are a wonderful neighbor.

gartblue said...

really, I don't mind 2 almost pound-ish cake in a row .. love them both!

great choices and even better writing!

Vicki said...

What a pretty photo of your cake. Beautiful plate. Lucky neighbors.

Jenn said...

Great post Marie. You always cheer up my Monday morning! Didn't make this cake this weekend but I made Tortas de las Leches. Will post it next week :).

Hanaâ said...

Your pictures make me regret not having made this cake this week. Lovely crumb, and the chocolate swirl looks great! I read through the Tres Leches cake again and it looks like it will be a 2 day process which is fine. I was just wondering why the recipe doesn’t call for evaporated milk. Instead you have to boil milk down until you’re left with half of what you started with.

Jenn, since you made this cake, was it a 2-day process for you?

Off-topic: I use Kosher Beef Gelatin in recipes that call for gelatin. I’ve used it to make homemade jello, mousse, stabilized whipped cream, etc. There’s a health food store here called Mastels (www.mastels.com). The weird thing is that I can’t find it in their online catalog. So I’ve ordered it over the phone and they shipped it to me, and I’m thinking you could do the same. Their number is: 651-690-1692. Ask for “Great Lakes Kosher Beef Gelatin”. A 16 oz container costs $13.98. I bought mine 2-3 yrs ago, gave some of it away, and only now I’m almost out.

Lois B said...

I too wish I were your neighbor! Couldn't help but notice the scale in the background ;-)

Marie said...

Beautiful name! I'm limited in the number of recipes that I can post, and I've already done my limit. However, to see if I could help you, I found a link to the recipe in a California newspaper. http://www.modbee.com/life/taste/recipes/story/910067.html
But once you try this recipe, if you like to bake, you may want to consider buying the book.
(I don't get any money from the book sales--I just like it myself and hope that everyone else does too).

I'd love it if you copied me! I'd love it if this became a tradition all over--it's such a pleasant winter break. I can't believe that you started baking at 8:00. That's practically my bedtime.

Glad you liked it. I just told Jim that the annual open houses make us sound like nicer people than we actually are. He said it was the other people on the block--who really are nice--who prompted us to do it.

Thank you. I think I like pound cakes better than any other variety, so it was a treat for me to have them twice in a row.

That was Jim's mother's plate, and I love it. Thanks for noticing.

I can't wait to see everyone's Torta des Tres Leches--that one was a definite crowd pleaser!

As I recall, it's just a one-day cake, but it's recommended that you serve it the day after you make it so the milk soaks into the cake.

Lois B.,
The scale is never far from my side when I'm baking!

Jenn said...

Hanaa, good question :). It's a whole day process but mostly it's idle time. I started at 9 am with the cake. After 8 hour of cake refrigeration (per Rose's instruction), it's 8 PM. Finished decorating at 8.30 PM - I opted for simple decoration. Keep in mind that it takes about 1 hour (on medium low) to boil down the milk mixture. So it might be a better idea to start the milk before the cake. Just a thought!

Hanaâ said...

Thanks Jenn. I figured the milk reduction might take a while and would be best made a day in advance.

Unknown said...

you all did brilliantly and your reward: the tres leches--OMG are you i for a treat next week!

p.s. raymond i've ordered that heritage pan!

faithy said...

I've nominated your blog & all HCBs for Happy 101 Award..check it out at http://theamateurbaker.blogspot.com/2010/01/my-happy-101-award.html