Coffee With Cake Adds Flair To Morning Fare

IN THE KITCHEN

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I love coffee. I need at least two cups to feel like a functioning human being most mornings. On the weekend, one of my favorite things is to make a six- or eight-cup pot of coffee and read the paper from cover to cover. Add a coffee cake and some jazz or classical instrumentals playing in the background and all my cares just drift away like the steam from my cup.

I admit to buying some of the fancier coffees. I think Starbucks is too strong, my favorite is the milder offerings from Seattle's Best, but Yuban will do, too. Add a little vanilla or almond extract to the water going into the coffee maker and you have your own flavored brew.

Now, about the coffee cake, here are a few: Apple Coffee Cake, Spiced Brown Sugar-Pecan Coffee Cake and Jam Tea Cake.

Apple Coffee Cake

4 cups peeled, cored and coarsely chopped tart cooking apples (Rome Beauty, Granny Smith or Winesap)

1/3 cup light brown sugar

1 1/2 tablespoons ground cinnamon

3 cups all-purpose flour

1 3/4 cups sugar

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

Grated zest of one orange

4 eggs

1 cup vegetable oil

1/2 cup fresh or frozen orange juice

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease and flour a 10-inch tube or bundt cake pan and set aside.

Combine apples, brown sugar and cinnamon and set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and orange zest.

Using and electric mixer, beat eggs and oil until thick and creamy, about two minutes on high speed. Add to the dry ingredients with the orange juice.

Beat until just moistened, but fully blended.

Place a third of the batter in the pan, cover with half the apple mixture. Cover apples with second third of batter, making sure they are completely covered. Add second half of apples, then cover with smooth layer of final third of the batter.

Bake in the center of the oven for 60 minutes. Cover lightly with foil and bake another 15 minutes or until a knife or cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean.

Remove from oven to cool in pan on a rack for about an hour, then invert and allow to fully cool before serving.

Spiced Brown Sugar-Pecan Coffee Cake

Topping

1/4 cup light brown sugar

1/4 cup sugar

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon mace

1/2 teaspoon ginger

6 tablespoons cold, unsalted butter, cut into pieces

2 cups pecans, coarsely chopped

Coffee Cake

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

1/2 cup light brown sugar

1/2 cup sugar

2 eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup cultured buttermilk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees, grease an 8-inch cake pan.

For topping, combine the sugars, flour and spices in a small bowl, cut in the butter with your fingers or process just until the mixture forms coarse crumbs. Add the pecans and set aside.

For the coffee cake, cream the butter and sugars until fluffy. Add the eggs and vanilla and beat until smooth.

In another bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add to the creamed mixture alternately with the buttermilk. Beat until the batter has a creamy consistency.

Pour half the batter into the pan. Sprinkle half the crumb mixture evenly over batter. Add remaining batter and top with second half of the crumb mixture.

Bake in the center of the oven for 40 to 45 minutes until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean.

Remove from oven and cool.

Jam Tea Cake

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/3 cup sugar

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

Pinch of salt

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

2 eggs

1/2 cup sour cream

1 1/2 teaspoons almond extract

1/2 to 2/3 cup jam, preserves or all-fruit spread

1/2 cup sliced almonds

Preheat oven to 350 degrees, grease and flour an 8-inch pan and set aside.

Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In a second bowl, combine the butter, eggs, sour cream and almond extract. Add to the dry ingredients and beat until smooth and fluffy.

Spread batter in pan and cover with spoonfuls of jam, dotting it over the surface of batter. Put a butter knife in the center of the batter and swirl jam into and through the batter. Sprinkle top with almonds.

Bake in center of preheated oven for 40 to 45 minutes or until a knife put in the center comes out clean. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

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