12 Aug 2012

Coffee streusel cake

Enough of the navel gazing; let's bake a cake.

I love the rich, exotic aroma of a freshly made mug of coffee. Our office has one of those fancy pod coffee makers, so its heady darkness regularly wafts around the corridors. Invigorating on a bleak work day.

In the summertime, I love coffee ice cream: the contrast between icy temperatures, creamy smooth textures, and that kicky caffeine flavour.

And I love coffee cakes, mellow and warming. This one is a gorgeous example of the genre. It is a wonderfully easy cake to make, too. Brown sugar adds extra depth of flavour and a beautiful colour to the final cake (though it does look slightly curdled in the mixing bowl, when first creamed with the butter). Sour cream lends moistness and lightness - it's a joyously fluffy cake (especially after the failed soggy pie and the perfect-but-dense brownies of recent times). And of course, the coffee flavour - such a small amount, you wonder if it's enough, but it is, and produces a beautifully, perfectly mellow result.

Of course, this would be a lovely cake if that's all it was - cake - but this recipe has a crunchy streusel topping of buttery, sugary walnuts, which contrasts with yet complements the soft cake. Once in the oven, the toasting walnuts fragrantly fill the house. I love this part of cooking: I'm not doing anything - except waiting - but I still feel connected, pulled to what's happening in the kitchen.

The waiting is rewarded: I love this cake.

Oh, did I mention, I don't acually like drinking coffee?

Coffee streusel cake
Adapted from yet another Woman's Day magazine pinched from the work tea room. I think this is much nicer eaten warm, so eat straight out of the oven or zap in the microwave briefly each time.
  • Line a brownie tin with paper, leaving enough edges sticking up so you can lift the cake out once done. Preheat your oven to 180.
  • First, the cake: cream 125 grams soft butter with 1 cup brown sugar (I used half light brown and half dark brown), then add 2 eggs.
  • Then fold in 3/4 cup SR flour and 1/2 cup plain flour. Then add 1/2 cup sour cream. In a small bowl, combine 1 tbspn each of hot water and instant coffee, then add this to the cake batter. Stir thru, then spread the batter into your brownie tin.
  • For the streusel, get out your food processor and blitz up 1/4 cup plain flour, 1/4 cup brown sugar, 1 tspn cinnamon, and 60 grams butter (you could rub this in the old-fashioned way if you are so inclined. Me, I'm lazy). Then add 1/2 cup broken up walnuts and blitz just enough to combine - you want some small chunks still, some variation in texture.
  • Scatter this evenly across the cake batter and lightly press it in - I sort of tapped as if I was typing.
  • Pop in the oven and bake for 45 minutes or until done. Cool in tin for a few minutes before lifting out (using the papers) and cool on a rack.

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