I have a lovely friend, Zachary, whom I rarely see for more than 30 seconds at a time. He has the most fantastic speaking voice I have ever heard, and for some reason, whenever we cross paths, I have a tendency to let out my New York accent (I hail from Boston, so this manner of speaking is entirely foreign and just a voice I imitate), singing “ZACHARYYYY !” from across the room/street/hallway/take your pick. In order to spend a little more “quality time” together, he suggested brunch. What to make, what to make….Ooh ! I know !
Cawfeee cake !
My mom used to make this when I was little and bring it over to the relatives’ place for Easter morning nibbles. I thought it would be an appropriate addition to the Sunday brunch spread, as it isn’t a light cake – made with sour cream, it’s very moist and delicious with (what else?) coffee ! (Or tea, if you prefer a little Earl Grey in your life). The mixture of cinnamon, oatmeal, and sugar on top is divine – I often add more than the recipe calls for. Also – I did not have pecans in my pantry BUT chopped nuts are a must (if you like them) as they bring a little texture to the cake.
For the topping:
1/2 cup granulated or brown sugar, or 1/4 cup each
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp cloves
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, softened
1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts or pecans
1/2 cup rolled oats
Put the flour, cinnamon, salt, sugar, cloves, and nutmeg in a small bowl and mix with a fork until crumble. Add the nuts and oats and stir to combine. Set aside.
For the batter:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
3 large eggs
1 cup (8 ounces) sour cream or plain yogurt
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
A sprinkling of cinnamon
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease one 9-inch square pan,9-inch Bundt or tube pan, or 9-inch springform pan. When I say grease, I am not joking, Don’t skimp on the butter or the oil or the Pam when greasing this pan – my Bundt pan is old and dented and definitely not non-stick and I got my cake out just fine; however, know that it isn’t always easy given the nature of the topping. You have been warned !
In a large bowl, beat the butter until smooth, about 1 minute. Gradually add the sugar and beat until light and fluffy. It’s not easy to do in a whisk – your arm will be sleepy – but it’s worth it as this smooth incorporation will affect the texture in a positive way later (light and fluffy!).
Beat in the eggs, one at a time. Blend in the sour cream and vanilla. Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Stir in the flour mixture, mixing until just combined.
Spread half of the batter in the prepared pan and smooth with a spatula to make it even and flat.
Sprinkle with half of the streusel mixture – again, smoothing with the back of a spoon to keep the layer relatively level.
Carefully cover with the remaining batter and…
…sprinkle with the remaining streusel.
Bake until the cake is golden and pulls away from the sides of the pan, about 50 minutes. It takes a long time to cook, but you’ll smell it when it is done – the top may also crack a little bit. Set on a rack and let cool in the pan for at least 15 minutes. To remove from the Bundt pan, “run” a knife around the edges (really, just poke knife down the sides and lift a small bit all the way around the cake pan). Turn the cake out onto a plate and tap the bottom. If it doesn’t come out, run the knife around the edges again. Tap tap tap. It should pop out with a little patience.
I prefer to serve this warm with a hot beverage but it’s just as good cold. Gather your Sunday morning buddies, give them a cawl for cawfee cake and have a bawl !
Bon appétit !