We are three sisters united in our search for the divine - in food, libation, literature, art, and nature. This blog will capture the true, sometimes decadent, at times humorous, and every so often transcendent adventures of the Salvation Sisters.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

The World's Best Coffee Cake (Traditional and Gluten-Free Versions)

by Michelle





To quote Austin Powers, "Yeah, baby, yeah!"
   This cake is not limited to breakfast or as an accompaniment to afternoon coffee. It is so good that my daughter requested it as the crowning glory to celebrate her thirteenth birthday when we lived in Guerneville with Linda for a year. In fact, the gluten-free version is so delicious that if you don't disclose to people it is gluten-free, I don't think they will ever guess without being tipped off. Do not hesitate to serve the gluten-free version to a mixed crowd. The gluten eaters will be none the wiser, I assure you.

"I am so happy, it's my birthday and I love my new hat and scarf and mittens! 
Can't wait to eat my cake..."
"Yes, my wish is coming true! I blew every candle out..."
"Seriously Mom and Auntie Linda... trick candles are just not as funny 
as you both seem to think they are!"
   Sometimes I am tempted to drizzle the baked cake with a rum or amaretto glaze for a more dramatic presentation, but this "humble" coffee cake is always a thing of beauty whether plain or gussied up. For Father's Day brunch my husband seems to alternate between choosing coffee cake or Linda's famous cinnamon rolls. Honestly, you can't go wrong with either choice.
   Back in my Silicon Valley days, Hobee's was (and probably still is) the industry's breakfast spot of choice. The restaurant's pièce de résistance was Cinnamon-Streusel-Topped Blueberry Coffee Cake, made in a sheet pan and cut into perfect high-domed squares with a big ball of butter melting on each serving. Should you not have a Bundt pan handy, you can always use a couple of square cake pans to get the job done. Knowing me, because I always seem to be picking up specialty equipment along the way, if I were to go the sheet pan route, I would buy a rectangular springform cake pan for easier slicing and serving.



The World's Best Coffee Cake
(Traditional and Gluten-Free Versions)

   This recipe is adapted from a recipe called Merk's Coffee Cake, which was made famous by the Los Angeles Times. It is the most requested recipe in the newspaper's history. At its heart this is a cake made moist with the addition of sour cream and the flavor boosted by layering a nut streusel at the top, bottom and in the middle. Linda's advice was to reserve some of the streusel to sprinkle on the top of the cake which becomes crunchy and delicious as the cake bakes. It adds a new texture to an already divine cake.
   Sometimes I wonder what it would be like to add orange peel or lemon peel to the cake batter or streusel. I then visualize repeating the flavor to a simple orange or lemon infused powdered sugar icing drizzled over the top. I think it would be delightful, but I have yet to carry out the plan.
   The Gluten-Free All-Purpose Flour Mix I prefer to use can be substituted as a cup-for-cup replacement in most recipes that call for All-Purpose Flour. One cup of this mix equals 140g. This recipe yields 4-1/2 cups. Feel free to double the GF All-Purpose Flour recipe to have extra readily available, but please note that tapioca flour can spoil quickly, so it is best to store leftover mix covered in the refrigerator. By the way, if you are not measuring your flours by weight, as Bob Dylan sings, the times they are a-changin'. It's soooooo much easier to weigh dry goods. Plus, it's accurate. We all know baking is a science, so the more precise you can be with measuring, the better the end result.

In a 2-quart cambro, or larger size, thoroughly mix:
205g white rice flour
170g brown rice flour
165g Mochiko sweet rice flour (also known as glutinous rice flour)
120g tapioca flour or tapioca starch

The recipe also calls for 2 scant teaspoons of guar gum or xanthan gum, but I prefer to add a specific measured amount for each particular recipe.


Streusel, Yields 4 cups:
8 Tbsps (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1-1/2 cups chopped nuts, I use walnuts
1-1/2 cups brown sugar
3 tsps cinnamon
1/4 tsp sea salt

Gluten Free Dry Ingredients:                                 Traditional Dry Ingredients:
3 cups (420g) Gluten-free Flour Mix (above)        3 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1-1/2 tsps guar gum or xanthan gum                      1-1/2 tsps baking powder
2 tsps baking powder                                              1 tsp fine sea salt
1 tsp fine sea salt

Wet Ingredients for both versions:
1 cup + 2 Tbsps granulated sugar
4 extra-large eggs, at room temperature or 5 large eggs, at room temperature
12 Tbsps (3/4 cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1-1/2 cups sour cream, at or close to room temperature
2 tsps vanilla extract mixed with 2 tsps baking soda (1-1/2 tsps if making Traditional Recipe)

Special Equipment:
Food Processor, while not mandatory, is certainly a great tool to use for making quick breads
10-inch Bundt pan, I prefer a pan made of silicon
spray oil or Bak-Klene



Food Processor Method:
1. In the oven, move one rack to the lower third and a second rack to the upper third of the oven. Place a cookie sheet on the top rack; it will act as a shield during baking to prevent the coffee cake from overbrowning. Preheat oven to 350°F. Thoroughly coat a 10-inch Bundt pan with spray oil.
2. Make the streusel by creaming softened butter with brown sugar and cinnamon. Add nuts and toss to make crumbly. Set aside.


3. In a food processor, with a steel blade, process dry ingredients until mixed (about 30-60 seconds), remove from bowl and set aside.
4. In an empty bowl of the food processor, with a steel blade, process sugar and eggs for 60 seconds.
5. Add soft butter to sugar and egg mixture and process butter for an additional 60 seconds.
6. Add sour cream and process until mixed, about 20 seconds.
7. In a small dish stir together the baking soda and vanilla. Add to wet ingredients and process for about 10 seconds until fully incorporated.
8. Remove lid from food processor, pour all dry ingredients on top of wet ingredients, secure lid, pulse mixture about 5 times until flour ingredients just disappear. You don't have to be concerned with over-mixing gluten-free ingredients.

Whip the eggs and sugar together for a full minute, which will help to aerate the batter.
9. Put about a cup of batter on the bottom of the Bundt pan and smooth until the batter is even (so the cake will cleanly invert), otherwise gooey streusel will stick to the bottom of the pan. Sprinkle about 1-1/2 cups of the streusel over the batter. Add about half the leftover batter. Sprinkle the remaining streusel over the batter. Spread the remaining cake batter evenly, smoothing with a spatula. Sprinkle the rest of the streusel on top and gently press down into the batter - this will be crunchy and delicious to eat.

Sprinkle the last layer of the nut topping evenly on the surface and lightly press into the batter.
10. Bake for approximately 50 to 55 minutes or until cake tester comes out mostly clean.
11. When the is cake is done, let it cool for 15 minutes, then invert it onto a serving tray. The silicon allows for you to gently pull the silicon along the edges letting in pockets of air so the cake will release more easily. Allow the cake to cool completely before slicing. You can make this the night before if you will be serving it with breakfast.



Mixer Method:
1. In the oven, move one rack to the lower third and a second rack to the upper third of the oven. Place a cookie sheet on the top rack; it will act as a shield during baking to prevent the coffee cake from overbrowning. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour (all-purpose flour or tapioca flour) a 10-inch Bundt pan. 
2. Make the streusel by creaming softened butter with brown sugar and cinnamon. Add nuts and toss to make crumbly. Set aside.


3. Make the cake batter by creaming the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, for about 5 minutes, or until light and fluffy. With the mixer on medium speed, add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
4. In a medium bow, sift together all the dry ingredients except the baking soda. Add the dry ingredients to the creamed mixture alternately with the sour cream, blending well after each addition. In a small dish stir together the baking soda and vanilla. Add along with the final addition of the sour cream, blending well, but only until incorporated. Don't over mix.

Activate the baking soda by mixing with vanilla extract then adding to the batter.
5. Put about a cup of batter on the bottom of the Bundt pan and smooth until the batter is even (so the cake will cleanly invert), otherwise gooey streusel will stick to the bottom of the pan. Sprinkle about 1-1/2 cups of the streusel over the batter. Add about half the leftover batter. Sprinkle the remaining streusel over the batter. Spread the remaining cake batter evenly, smoothing with a spatula. Sprinkle the rest of the streusel on top and gently press down into the batter - this will be crunchy and delicious to eat.
6. Bake for approximately 50 to 55 minutes or until cake tester comes out clean.
7. When the is cake is done, let it cool for 15 minutes, then invert it onto a serving tray. The silicon allows for you to gently pull the silicon along the edges letting in pockets of air so the cake will release more easily. Allow the cake to cool completely before slicing.


A warm beverage is the perfect accompaniment. Two of my 
favorites: Linda's Latte or her Herbal Tea.


5 comments:

  1. Nice post, Sisters. I linked to it in a story I did on Merk's. http://www.cleveland.com/cooking/index.ssf/2013/10/worlds_best_coffee_cake_merks.html#incart_river_default

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Debbi... your article gave us quite the thrill today. We enjoyed reading your post. And, to think that an old, hidden recipe card brought us together; makes us quite happy. Ah, serendipity - or as our sister, Juliette would say, a nice coinkydink. Thanks for the internet love! Happy baking from our houses to yours!

      Delete
  2. Where does the lemon and buttermilk come into the recipe? They are not listed in the ingredients or the written directions for the GF version so perhaps it is from another recipe which could be confusing. I will try the Gf version, thanks for the flour mix! I have been experimenting with Gf as I have celiac disease so snother flour mix to try is great!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Hi Annieloublue... thanks for the message regarding the recipe. A paragraph remained that should have been deleted. It's all better now thanks to you. And, you are right, the paragraph was a hangover from the Lemon Cake recipe. If you like lemon, I would highly recommend you try the Gluten-Free Version. It's delicious! We appreciate you visiting our sisters' blog.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I made this coffee cake gluten free this morning. I bake gluten free consistently and know a good deal about different flours. I'm not a big fan on rice flours (sometimes leads to a gritty product, there are some studies about the arsenic levels in rice, and it's fairly bland), so I substituted the brown rice with sorghum flour and half the white rice with almond meal. I kept the sweet rice flour and tapioca flour the same (mostly - I ran out of tapioca, so I put in some potato starch). I also used flaxseed meal instead of gums (can't tolerate gums), and greek yogurt for sour cream. I also baked it in 2 loaf pans. It came out amazingly! It's super delicious and everyone at work loved it.

    A tip: do not overbake. Make sure you check it consistently after 45 minutes. Overbaking gluten free baked goods is a disaster. they turn into hard rocks of sadness.

    ReplyDelete

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