Sunday, March 2, 2008

Baby’s First Coffee Cake – An Experiment In Terror

Every bakery, whether situated far within the reaches of your daydreams or just down the street, requires a few staple items. I have established that coffee cake should be one of mine. Of course, prior to today I had never made a coffee cake. For days, the tiny rat of my imagination has been running endlessly on the “what should I put in my coffee cake” wheel inside my head.

Here are the parameters I have chosen so far.

- There should be no fruit
- The cake should be simple and tasty and largely plain, rather than loaded down with spice or gimmicks
- Streusel is a necessity

Now, one of the best parts of having a fantasy bakery rather than a real one is that you can afford to make mistakes. Imagine the pressure of having your own establishment. When I allow my mind to wander off into this Let’s Just Say I Have This Bakery theoretical land, I often fancy myself having many regular customers. And how would they feel if they came in to order their favorite coffee cake, only to have it replaced by one that was (in theory) far more creative and exciting, but (in practice) turned out to be nothing more than a self-indulgent experiment?

Thankfully for me, I have no such adoring public. This freedom naturally lends itself to the frequent occurrence of what is known in my family as an Experiment In Terror. This term simply refers to a cooking adventure that you hope will turn out well, but just in case it doesn’t, the name itself is a built-in disclaimer. No shattered hopes here!

So after consulting a few websites (and taking a base recipe from which you will see modified in its EIT form below), I took a stab at it. One should note that this is not the final recipe product, but only one of many iterations. I’m including the recipe for the sake of documentation. After all, the cake’s overall taste was exactly what I wanted. My only problems were that I 1) executed the streusel very poorly and instead made a sort of paste on top that hardened into a crust, and 2) because of my poor streusel execution, I ended up with a molten layer of brown sugar and spices in the middle of my cake. If only that layer had been thinner, it might’ve actually been novel and welcome. Instead, it was a little jarring and somewhat resembled maple syrup. I’ll have to think about that one.

Coffee Cake v 1.0

1 cup sugar
½ cup butter, room temperature
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon almond extract
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup sour cream
½ teaspoon allspice


1. Butter an 8 x 8 x 3 inch baking pan and preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Cream butter and sugar in a large bowl.
3. Add eggs and extracts; beat well.
4. In a separate bowl, whisk dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, allspice) to combine.
5. Mix ½ of the dry ingredients into the butter mixture.
6. Mix sour cream into the butter/dry ingredient mixture.
7. Mix remaining dry ingredients into the larger bowl.
8. Bake for approximately 50 to 60 minutes, making your initial check at 50. Remove from oven when a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean.
9. Place pan on a wire rack to cool before serving.


Chi Chen said...
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Chi Chen said...

The secret of course is to give your disaster a name that is far away from the original intent, like in this case something like Volcano Surprise Cake, and not even mention what you started out to make! But this being a tell-all blog I guess that would be dishonest! Anyhow, really enjoying the blog and so on to carrot cake!