I have fond memories of summer time spent in Kentucky with my maternal grandparents. Waking up insanely early to wafting smells from the kitchen and coming downstairs to the small round table with my Gramps on one side with his iced coffee (really, back then that was so weird) and my Granny with her hot steaming cup of coffee and watching her put in her Coffeemate (which was powder) and how different they were.
Gramps was usually eating leftover dinner from the night before, Granny would be eating a square of this coffee cake. Well, okay, not this exact recipe, but something damn near close. Alas, that recipe is lost. It was my FaFa’s (pronounced FAH-fee) and who knows where it has disappeared to. But I digress.
I remember wondering (at age 8)… “Why is this delight called coffee cake? It tastes nothing like gross coffee. It tastes like cinnamon toast meets birthday cake!” I loved it and would forego my usual leftover dinner with Gramps and enjoy it along with my grandmother. Fast forward a couple of decades and I am a coffee snob and finally found a recipe that is pretty killer. And tastes as good as FaFa’s (who was my Great-Grandmother, by the way).
The recipe I got from KAF was well written, but needed a little tweaking. But god love them, not too much. I prefer to use shortening in my cakes as it is A) better for me and B) turns out a better product. But good lord, gotta have butter in the streusel topping! I’m not a madwoman.
Please enjoy – this cake is huge, so share it with someone!Yields 24 servings
Adapted from King Arthur Flour
1 Cup sugar, white
1/4 tsp salt, table*
1 Cup flour, all-purpose
1 Tbls cinnamon, ground
6 Tbls butter, unsalted melted
1 Cup sugar, light brown, unpacked
1 1/2 Tbls cinnamon, ground
1 tsp cocoa powder (unsweetened), optional (this is just for color)
3/4 Cups vegetable shortening
1 1/4 tsp salt, table
1 1/2 Cup sugar, white
1/3 Cup sugar, light brown, packed
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp extract, vanilla
3 Large egg, whole
3/4 Cups sour cream
1 1/4 Cup milk, skim (this can be whatever milk you keep in your fridge)
3 3/4 Cups flour, all-purpose
Pyrex Easy Grab 3-Quart Oblong Baking Dish
OXO Good Grips 3-Piece Mixing Bowl Set
KitchenAid KSM150PSER Artisan Tilt-Head Stand Mixer with Pouring Shield
KitchenArt 22101 Mini Adjust-A-Cup
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 9- x 13-inch pan, or two 9-inch round cake pans.
Make the filling by mixing together the 1/3 cup brown sugar, 1 1/2 tablespoons cinnamon, and cocoa powder. Note that the cocoa powder is used strictly for color, not flavor; leave it out if you want to. Set it aside.
To make the cake: In a large bowl, beat together the shortening (you can use unsalted butter if you prefer), salt, sugars, baking powder, and vanilla until well combined and smooth.
Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the sour cream and milk until well combined. You don’t need to whisk out all the lumps.
Add the flour to the butter mixture alternately with the milk/sour cream mixture, beating gently to combine.
Pour half the batter (a scant 3 cups) into the prepared pan(s), spreading all the way to the edges. If you’re using two 9″ round pans, spread 1 1/3 cups batter in each pan.
Sprinkle the filling evenly on the batter.
Spread the remaining batter on top of the filling.
Use a table knife to gently swirl the filling into the batter, as though you were making a marble cake. Don’t combine filling and batter thoroughly; just swirl the filling through the batter. You don’t have to get fancy – make a single pass through the entire cake and be done or you will really over do it.
Now, make the topping by whisking together the 1 cup sugar, 1/4 tsp salt (skip this if your butter is salted), 1 cup flour, and 1 tablespoon cinnamon. Add the 6 tablespoons melted butter, stirring until well combined.
Sprinkle the topping over the batter in the pan.
Bake the cake until it is a dark golden brown around the edges; medium-golden with no light patches showing on top, and a toothpick or cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean, about 55 to 60 minutes for the 9- x 13-inch pan, 50 to 55 minutes for the 9-inch round pans. When pressed gently in the middle, the cake should spring back.
Chef’s Note: If you use a convection oven, make sure to reduce the cooking time by about 7 to 10 minutes.
Remove the cake from the oven and allow it to cool for 20 minutes before cutting and serving. This is a delicate cake! Serve cake right from the pan.