It feels like Michigan is turning into Seattle. Our ‘winter’ has been mild, bleak and rainy. This past Sunday, I was sitting in front of my living room window with my arms crossed, glaring at the sparse green grass and thinking about how I hadn’t been able to make any snow angels, or throw a snowball at Bronson and miss (I have terrible aim), or build a lopsided snowman like I do every year.
As I felt myself get a bit frustrated, I realized that I had to go back to a full work week on Monday (adding to my frustration), and I needed to remember how to be productive. So I baked all of my frustration into a rich, creamy, cinnamon-y coffee cake.
I’ve always loved Starbucks coffee cake, and I wanted to find a copycat recipe that I could work with to make my perfect coffee cake. I love how their coffee cake is so dense and full, an excellent pairing to a cup of strong coffee. I wanted my cake to be bursting with cinnamon (because I haven’t stated my undying love for cinnamon enough), and for the cake to be sweet and full of vanilla flavor.
I started with the crumble topping. I combined flour, butter, brown sugar and cinnamon together in a large bowl, mixing it together with my hands until it had the texture of wet sand.
In my mixer, I creamed together butter, brown sugar and granulated sugar until the mixture was light and fluffy.
Then I added the eggs and the vanilla.
In a large, separate bowl, I sifted flour, baking powder and salt, and mixed those into the wet batter in two parts, mixing after each addition.
Then I poured in the half and half and watched the mixture get thick and creamy.
I poured the first layer of batter into a greased square baking dish and had to spread it around a bit, it was pretty thick. When the first layer was spread evenly, I sprinkled handfuls of the crumb topping over top of the batter. I made sure to cover every part of the first layer. Then I poured the second layer of batter, spread it and sprinkled more of the crumb mixture over top of it all.
The recipe that I adapted this recipe from said to bake this cake at 325 degrees for 50 minutes. However, my oven has been putzing out on me lately, and after 50 minutes at 325 degrees, the toothpick that I tested it with wasn’t coming out totally clean. I turned up the heat to 350 degrees and let the cake bake for another 10 minutes.
I pulled it out when a toothpick inserted into the center came out totally clean. I love soft coffee cake, but I don’t love salmonella. I’ve been worried lately that my oven may be dying, so this coffee cake was also a test to see if I needed to get ready for a fight with the apartment complex about getting a new oven.
When I pulled the coffee cake from the oven, it had a gorgeous toasted brown color and I could still hear some of the butter sizzling in the crumb topping!
I left the cake in the pan and cut pieces of it when it was mostly cool. I was so proud of the pretty brown ribbon of cinnamon sugar running through the cake!
Looking back though, I should have put more crumble in the middle layer. As I was eating the cake, I could obviously see the layer of cinnamon, but it wasn’t as thick as I hoped it would be. I noticed that I could taste the cinnamon, but it wasn’t like, “BAM! CINNAMON!”. I would definitely recommend adding more crumble to the middle layer so that the cake has a big, thick, delectable ribbon of cinnamon.
As I ate my warm piece of coffee cake, I could taste the creaminess of the half and half in the cake’s rich taste and texture. The layer of cinnamon sugar flowing through the middle was a lovely compliment to the vanilla notes in the cake.The crumble on top was the perfect crunch through soft layers of sweetness, and it crumbles in a lovely way that leaves bits on your plate to be picked up between thumbs or dropped into a coffee.
If you’re disappointed with this winter’s weak attempt at being winter, or you’re frustrated with your first full week back at work, bake this coffee cake and enjoy it with a strong cup of coffee. You’ll be able to knock out any problem at work and ignore the fact that winter that hardly happened.
Coffee Cake recipe adapted from this website:
1 cup All-Purpose flour
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup butter, softened
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 cup butter, softened
3/4 light brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups All-Purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup half and half
For crumble topping, mix together softened butter, flour and brown sugar with hands until it becomes the texture of wet sand.
For batter, cream together butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla and mix thoroughly. In a separate bowl, sift flour, salt and baking powder together Add to wet batter in two parts, mixing after each incorporation. When dry ingredients are fully mixed in, add half and half and mix well.
Pour 1/2 wet batter into well-greased square baking dish. Layer crumble topping over batter (a lot!), completely covering batter. Repeat with second 1/2 of batter and top with rest of crumble topping.
Bake at 325 for 50 minutes, or if your oven is quite finicky like mine, 325 for 50 minutes and then 350 for another 10 minutes.
Let cool completely in pan.