Sunday, November 14, 2010

Sour Cream Coffee Cake

Coffee cakes, whose name is eternally confusing to those who have a retching dislike for coffee, are a great arrow to have in the quiver of your brunch recipes. 

As I've mentioned in previous posts, when we get home from church on Sunday mornings, I run in the door, kick off my heels, throw on an apron, and get cooking.  Fast.  Otherwise the boys start dropping like flies from hunger.

This coffee cake, adapted from The Silver Palate Cookbook, is a popular brunch item in my house.  But only because I halve the baking time by using a bigger dish - my 12-inch cast-iron skillet to be exact.  I feel a bit like Ma Clampett when I slide the huge, heavy thing into the oven, but it never fails to reward me for my energy expenditure.  The edges of the "cake" are crispy, the center light and airy.

My skillet is rather new and is not well "seasoned" yet. 
A perfect reason to justify using LOTS of butter to grease it. 

I added cardamom, an Indian spice, to this recipe.  I adore cardamom.  It's what makes your Chai Tea Latte from Starbucks taste so deliciously complicated. Plus, it's really expensive, so wanting to use all of mine before it expires, I sneak in a dash or two whenever I can. 

Sour Cream Coffee Cake
12 tablespoons of butter (1 and 1/2 sticks), softened, plus more for greasing the baking dish
1 cup granulated sugar, divided
1 cup brown sugar, divided
3 eggs, beaten
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon of cardamom, optional
1 cup sour cream
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 cups shelled pecans, chopped
2 tablespoons ground cinnamon

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Generously butter a baking dish (for a thicker cake, use a 8x8 or 9x9 dish and bake for an hour.  For a thinner but faster cake, use a 13 x 9 baking dish or a large cast iron skillet; bake for about 30 minutes.)

2.  Cream together the butter, 3/4 cup of the granulated sugar, and 3/4 cup of the brown sugar.  Add eggs, blending well after each addition, then the sour cream and vanilla.  Mix just until blended.

3.  In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, salt, cloves, ginger, and cardamom (if using). 

4.  Fold the dry ingredients into the creamed mixture, and beat until just blended.  Do not overmix.

5.  In a separate bowl, mix together the remaining 1/4 cup of each type of sugar, the pecans and the cinnamon.

6.  Scrape half of the batter into the prepared pan.  Sprinkle with half of the pecan and sugar mixture.  Spread remaining batter and top with the rest of the pecan mixture.

7.  Set on the middle rack of the oven and bake according to pan size (see Step 1).