Published November 1, 2002.
Forget about ersatz convenience-store cake. We set out to explore the secrets of the real thing: a dense, tender cake with rich streusel topping.
Ready made supermarket coffee cakes are little more than flat, dry, rectangular yellow cake topped with hard, pellet-like crumbs and nary a cinnamon swirl in sight. Homemade coffee cakes can be too dense and wet, too dry and tough, too sweet or too spicy, or just plain bland. The streusel inside the cake may be damp and pasty, and the streusel topping, if any, sometimes melts into the cake, while other times it stays sandy and granular.
First, we wanted a decadent, ultra-moist cake, pleasantly rich and dense from the addition of sour cream. Second, we wanted to find a method of putting this cake together that was simple enough to tackle even before our first cup of coffee. Third, we love crispy, crunchy, yet melt-in-your-mouth streusel so much that we wanted not one but two layers of it on the inside, as well as a sizable amount on the cake top.
Make a batter of all-purpose flour (for structure), four eggs (for a tight crumb), plus plenty of butter, sour cream, and sugar for superior flavor and a velvety mouth feel. Add 1 tablespoon of baking soda and 3/4 teaspoon of baking soda for a statuesque height. As for the streusel, we found that a great one is made with nuts, brown sugar, plenty of cinnamon, and cold butter. To ensure that the cake cooks through completely, bake it for a full hour at 350 degrees.list of recipes