Published November 1, 1998.
To give this rich, breadlike coffee cake a tender crumb and a melt-in-your-mouth texture, use plenty of butter, mix the dough very thoroughly, and make sure you let it rise twice.
Unlike coffee cakes made with baking powder or soda (chemical leaveners), which can be quickly put together and have a final texture that resembles that of a cake, yeast coffee cakes have a breadlike texture. The problem is that they're often dry and can develop a hard, dark, ultimately unappealing crust.
A coffee cake with a flavorful, rich, moist crumb made from a dough that could be shaped and filled in a variety of ways and that was not too daunting for a home baker to tackle.
Because the coffee cake we envisioned was to be light yet rich, with a brioche-type texture, we knew that it would need a relatively high proportion of eggs (we settled on four). Butter contributes to flavor and aroma as well as to crumb; we were after richness without heaviness (which can be caused by using too much butter), and this was produced by 1 cup of butter. The richness of the dough also demanded a lot of beating: the eggs must be well incorporated, the butter evenly combined, and a great deal of gluten released to provide structure and strength. (It is because of the intense mixing and the softness of the dough that we recommend using a standing mixer or, next best, a food processor, which requires you to halve the recipe.) Two rising times, the first at room temperature and the second in the refrigerator, turned out to be important for both texture and flavor.list of recipes