Saturday, February 4, 2017

Elegant Coffee Cake for the Wintry Days

Vintage Coffee Cake--Deliciousness!
Coffee cake is popular classic sweet bread with European roots. It is often eaten with coffee or tea—warming comfort superfoods for cold winter days and nights. My mother used to bake a Praline Cake (made with vegetable shortening and margarine, baked in a Pyrex Baking Dish). Coffee cakes are single layer cakes (round, square or rectangular) with a streusel and/or vanilla glaze on top, often eaten for breakfast, a snack, or dessert. 
More than a decade ago, I endured a sierra blizzard on Highway 50 while driving home from Zephyr Cove to Bijou Pines. It was an adventure in the whiteout like when I was stuck in Cheyenne, Wyoming while hitchhiking with my dog; stranded on a road until a truck driver gave us a lift. He drank coffee; I ate coffee cake in a box as we move slowly on the Interstate with zero visibility like the snowstorm at Lake Tahoe. I stopped at Safeway and purchased a coffee cake and instant coffee. At home, I watched snow pile up on the deck while talking on the phone to my editor in Chicago. “I’m scared. What if the snow covers the windows and I can’t open the door?” Amid her words of Midwest snowstorm wisdom--and bites of coffee cake—I survived once again.
Years later, as a seasoned semi-mountain hardy woman, this week I whipped up a homemade sour cream coffee cake and brewed a pot of herbal tea. While the cake was in the oven, I made a fire and anticipated fresh snow for February.

Elegant Sour Cream Coffee Cake
2 large brown eggs
½ cup pure cane sugar, granulated white
The Healing Powers of Coffee
(ebook with click of a mouse)
1 cup sour cream (or lemon yogurt)
½ cup European style butter with sea salt (save a bit for greasing pan)
2 cups cake flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
½ cup cranberries, dried (optional)
2 teaspoons fresh lemon rind (optional)

½-3/4 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
½ cup walnuts, chopped
¼ cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted
In a bowl, combine eggs, sugar, sour cream, and butter. Set aside.  In another bowl combine flour, baking powder, and baking soda. Mix together dry and wet ingredients. Add vanilla. Mix topping of sugar, cinnamon, and nuts in another small bowl. Put half of the topping on the bottom of a lightly butter greased 8” by 8” glass dish. Spread cake batter on top. Put the other half of topping on top. Spread evenly. Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown. Cool. Dust with confectioners’ sugar for a chic touch. Or drizzle with a glaze mixture of 1 to 1 1/2 cups confectioner’s sugar, 1/4 cup organic milk (or to preferred consistency), and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla. Serves eight to 10.

This new and improved cake is perfect. I used less than more sugar (it’s healthier), and the sour cream gives the cake a nice moist texture while cake flour provides a lighter cake. I went with nuts and sugar dusting but red cranberries and white glaze can give a coffee cake a festive touch for Valentine’s Day.  As the next round of storms roll in, this coffee cake will help you to cozy up and feel warm and fuzzy indoors and outdoors.

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