Truth be told, I’ve never been a fan of coffee cake. Don’t get me wrong, I love the idea of coffee cake: Slow, weekend mornings reading the newspaper with a huge slice of not-too-sweet cake alongside a steaming cup of just-brewed coffee…but I’ve rarely met a coffee cake that’s actually lived up to its leisurely notion. Too often, while warm & cuddly to look at, I actually find them to be disappointingly dry and flavorless (or cloyingly sweet) to eat.
Not to gush, yet again, on Zoe Nathan, but she’s managed to crack the code when it comes to nailing the coffee cake recipe. This version is ridiculously tender and full of flavor (it calls for 4(!) teaspoons of vanilla – hello?!?). And while I like a nutty flavor in my baked goods, I, personally, consider it blasphemy to actually add nuts to them (I realize this is a tad ironic, as I founded a spiced & candied nut company). Fortunately, this recipe conciliates by first pulverizing the toasted walnuts in the food processor – which allows for the walnut-y flavor to shine, while still blending in with the cake’s delicate texture.
And, once you’re comfortable with this recipe, Ms. Nathan encourages you to play around with it, adding fruit, more cinnamon, chocolate chips…This recipe encourages you to get creative!
One version I like, is to top the streusel layer with 1 cup frozen cranberries + the zest of one orange – especially perfect during the fall/winter holiday season.
One final note, this recipe can be made ahead. You heard me right! You can assemble the entire cake, throw it in the fridge, and then bake it in the morning. So, you can sleep in and still pass yourself off as a rock star. Woot woot!Print
Makes one 10" Cake
For the crumble:
- 5 ½ TB unsalted butter, room temperature (80 g)
- ½ cup all-purpose flour (65 g)
- ½ cup almond flour (45 g)
- 4 ½ TB sugar (55 g)
- ½ tsp salt (fine grain, like table or sea salt)
For the streusel:
- 1 cup walnuts, toasted (130 g)
- 3 TB sugar
- ½ tsp cinnamon
For the cake:
- 1 ½ cups unsalted butter, room temperature (340 g)
- 1 ¾ cups + 2 TB sugar (380 g)
- 1 ½ tsp salt (fine grain, like table or sea salt)
- 1 TB + 1 tsp vanilla
- 3 eggs
- 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour (310 g)
- ½ cup almond flour (45 g)
- 1 TB baking powder
- ½ tsp baking soda
- 1 ½ cups sour cream (350 ml)
- Preheat oven to 350F with rack in the middle. Line and grease a 10" round cake- or springform pan.
- For the crumble: In a bowl, combine all the crumble ingredients and rub together between your fingertips until everything is moistened, but a few little bits of butter remain. Refrigerate until needed.
- For the streusel: In a food processor, combine the walnuts, sugar and cinnamon and pulse until the walnuts are finely ground but not becoming a paste. Set aside.
- For the cake: In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter, sugar and salt on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Incorporate the vanilla and eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Be sure to scrape the sides of the bowl well. Pause mixing and add the flours, baking powder, baking soda and sour cream. Mix cautiously, just until incorporated. Do no overmix!
- Scoop half of the batter into the prepared pan and smooth it with damp fingertips or a small offset spatula. Sprinkle evenly with the streusel. Top with the rest of the batter, coaxing it into covering the streusel layer. Top with the crumble. (Fun fact: At this point, the assembled cake can be refrigerated for up to 2 days.) Bake for 1 hour and 10 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean (a little longer if coming from the refrigerator). Allow to cool for about 15 minutes in the pan.
- To remove the cake from the pan: Place a flat plate on top of the cake and pan. Carefully invert the cake on to the plate by flipping both upside down. Then lift the pan off the cake. Gently peel away the parchment, being careful not to break the cake. Rest your serving plate on the bottom of the cake and carefully turn the cake right-side up onto the plate. Voilà!
- This recipe was just barely adapted from Zoe Nathan’s luscious cookbook, Huckleberry.
- In my oven, this cake bakes for a good 1 hour and 20 minutes. But the top starts to get pretty brown ~1 hour, so I tent the cake with aluminum foil for the remaining 20 minutes.
- This is best served the day it's made, but keeps well, tightly wrapped, at room temperature for up to 3 days.
Keywords: Breakfast, Brunch, Coffee Cake, Zoe Nathan, Huckleberry Bakery & Cafe