As a general rule, I think people like to cook what they like to eat. The exception being you don’t really love sweets but your wife has a sweet tooth and your three kids can’t get enough cookies, so you bake because you love them. I am personally not the biggest dessert eater, and cake is not one of my favorites. I do, however, love a dense buttery cake and if I can add fruit to it, I am in.
I love a buttery and fruity upside down cake; I often make Kate Schrager’s recipe for upside down cake and use different seasonal fruits. I also love a good coffee cake and was reminded of my old go-to recipe from Rose Levy Beranbaum. She released a game-changing cookbook in 1988, The Cake Bible. This book brought the professional world of cake baking to the home cook and for anyone interested in honing their cake baking skills, this book is a must have.
My favorite recipe in this book is the Sour Cream Coffee Cake. The version of this recipe I am sharing today has a couple of modifications, which I will highlight along the way. Rose is very detailed and meticulous in her recipes, as any really great baker should be. I am not a very detailed and meticulous baker, in fact, I look for every shortcut possible to make things easier… call me a lazy baker. If you want perfection, I would refer to Rose’s version of this recipe, if you want pretty yummy and straight forward, read on.
Sour Cream Coffee Cake with Rhubarb
Scroll down for a printable version of this recipe
1/3 cup light brown sugar
3 Tablespoons granulated sugar
1 cup Walnuts or pecans
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 cup cake flour
5 Tablespoons cold butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 large egg yolks
2/3 cup sour cream
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups Sifted cake flour
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon fine salt
12 Tablespoons softened unsalted butter
I used 1 cup of rhubarb but you can use any fresh fruit you like. If using frozen fruit, I would avoid really wet fruit like raspberries. If using something larger like peaches cut them a little smaller and let them thaw before adding them.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. If using convection mode, would be 325 degrees.
Prepare a 9-inch springform pan buy buttering the bottom and sides and then coating with flour.
I vary from Rose here in that I like to use streusel topping in the center layer of the cake versus just nuts. I also like to use cold butter for my streusel topping, I think it stays crumblier and less mushy. It’s also easier in my opinion, to take the whole lot of the streusel ingredients and toss them in the food processor and process until it is combined. When you put all the ingredients in the machine, pulse it instead of just turning it on, you get more control that way. After you have made the streusel, refrigerate until you need it.
Combine all of the dry ingredients: cake flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt in the bowl of your stand mixer, if you have one, or combine in a big bowl if using a hand mixer.
Add the softened butter to the dry ingredients and cream together until the color lightens up. The batter will start to look a lighter color of yellow and a little fluffier once it is creamed.
Mix your wet ingredients: sour cream, vanilla and egg yolks together thoroughly. Add the wet ingredients to the creamed mixture a third at a time. Scrape the sides of the bowl and beater after each addition.
Assemble and Bake
Put half the batter in the cake pan and spread evenly. Top with fruit if you are using it and a little less than half of the streusel topping.
Spread the remaining batter evenly over the first layer and top with remaining streusel. Bake at 350 for 45 minutes to an hour. Do not use browning to judge whether this cake is done; it really isn’t an accurate measure in this cake. This is a dense cake with a lot of egg yolks and fat which can make it over brown easily. If you see the cake browning too quickly, cover it with foil. If you have added fruit to the cake it has also added moisture, which can add baking time. If it takes longer than an hour, don’t worry. When this cake is done the sides will start to pull away from the pan and a toothpick inserted will come out clean.
Cool for 15 to 20 minutes, remove the springform sides and bottom. Put the cake on a plate and preferably wait until the next day to eat. The cake will be more moist the next day when you eat it for breakfast with a good hot cup of coffee!
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