Typically, I’ve never been one to go for reduced-fat or sugar-free kinds of labels, but a few years ago I tried the reduced-fat cinnamon swirl coffee cake at Starbucks and found it to be a pretty delish little baked good. On further consideration, I realized that reduced-fat probably just eliminates a dot of the butter or oil but does little, if anything, to lessen the load of sugar or enriched flour. But no bother. That’s why it still tastes good.
So that was my main experience with coffee cake before baking one of my own for New Year’s morning (er, more like New Year’s noon; it was a rather lengthy process). And I now know that, despite the much-deserved yummy label that my taste buds attach to that Starbucks treat, a good homemade coffee cake with full-on use of all the necessary ingredients (especially the eggs, oil and sugar) is out-of-this-world delicious.
This coffee cake was the first of my New York Times Essential Cookbook experience, and I hope it’s a sign of what’s to come. Full disclosure: The recipe said to use a 10-inch tube pan, and I baked my coffee cake in a 10-inch angel food pan. A bit of the batter seeped beneath the center insert, which caused the cake to stick to the bottom of the pan, despite the heavy dose of cooking spray. Mix that with the fact that I flipped the cake onto the serving platter before it had reached the recommended “lukewarm” status, and I ended up with a coffee cake roughly split lengthwise down the middle. Humph. Luckily, some skillful maneuvering (and added help from my mom and Jared) salvaged the top half and patched it together. The fault line was still squarely visible, but I’m happy to report that the prettiness factor remained intact. Yahoo!
And now, on to the baking!
Laura Goodenough’s Apple Coffee Cake
(Adapted from New York Times Essential Cookbook, Amanda Hesser, p. 631)
• 5 apples, peeled, cored and cut into 1/8-inch slices (a crisp, sweet apple such as Braeburn or Honeycrisp works well)
• 2 cups plus 5 tablespoons sugar
• 5 heaping teaspoons cinnamon
• 3 cups all-purpose flour
• 1 tablespoon baking powder
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 1 cup canola oil
• 4 large eggs, lightly beaten
• 1/4 cup orange juice
• 1 1/2 tablespoons vanilla
• powdered sugar (for sprinkling atop finished cake)
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease a 10-inch tube pan. Mix sliced apples, 5 tablespoons sugar and cinnamon in a medium bowl until apples are coated, and then set aside.
Sift flour, 2 cups sugar, baking powder and salt in a large bowl. Make a well in the center and pour in oil, eggs, orange juice and vanilla. Mix with wooden spoon until well blended.
Spoon one-third batter into the tube pan. Make a ring of half the apple mixture on top (don’t let apples touch sides of pan). Spoon another third of batter on apple mixture, and then make a ring of remaining apples on top. Top apples with remaining batter.
Bake for 60 to 70 minutes, or until knife comes out clean. If necessary, cover with foil to prevent overbrowning.
Allow cake to cool to lukewarm in pan. Turn onto serving plate, and serve warm. (The recipe says to serve with whipped cream, but I did a little sprinkling of powdered sugar instead; the cake is definitely sweet/rich enough on its own.)
I am 100 percent positive that I’ll make this recipe again and again for years to come. Check out that empty serving plate! I’d say a near-empty plate is a sign of success!
I’m thinking this recipe would work equally well with other fillings, too, in exchange for the apples. Maybe fresh blueberries with a few tablespoons of sugar? Ooo, and a bit of lemon juice and lemon zest in the cake batter in lieu of the orange juice? Yum, yum, yum!
What have you been cooking up so far this New Year? Any baking/cooking resolutions that you’re ready to get moving on? Can’t wait to hear about it!