I’ve been on this baking kick lately. Last weekend I made the brownies pictured on the cover of the February issue of Bon Appétit Magazine. A major hit with my brownie loving husband. This past weekend I made a coffee cake. I actually saw this recipe about three weeks ago and knew I just had to make it. You see it’s not just any coffee cake, it has apples in it and I really like apples. They can satisfy so many cravings depending on the variety: if I want pure sweetness I choose red delicious; if I want a little sweet/tart action, I go for braeburn; if I want pure tartness, it’s a granny smith kind of day.
For me, a coffee cake should be moist and flavorful, not dry and tasteless or so heavy on the butter I feel as though I’ve just bitten into a stick and most important, the right amount of crumb topping. Let’s talk about crumbs for a moment, shall we? This is kind of a peeve of mine. The crumbs are a topping, hence the name Coffee CAKE and not Coffee CRUMB. Call me crazy but I actually believe there should be more cake in my coffee cake then crumb. While we’re on the subject, I have another peeve about crumbs, they should be just the right balance between moist and dry so when baked they don’t turn into jaw-cracking pebbles in my mouth. Maybe the problem is some of the so called coffee cakes I’ve had are actually crumb cakes and therefore legitimately more crumb than cake. Is there actually a difference, I mean technically really or is it just regional nomenclature muddying the waters? Hey, if you have an answer, let me know.
Anyway, as I was saying, I saw this recipe for a “Moist Apple Cinnamon Coffee Cake” earlier this month posted on the bakedbyrachel blog. Rachel by the way is a really great baker and a very nice person I met on Twitter, you should definitely check out her blog. She described the cake as being very moist, perhaps more-so than most and on a whim decided to throw in some apples…brilliant.
In the spirit of full disclosure, you should know I’m not very good at following recipe directions; I have this tendency to tweak them a bit. Admittedly less so when I bake than when I cook – it’s a science after all – but I still couldn’t leave well enough alone. Some of my changes were based on suggestions/ideas Rachel made on her blog and some were my own doing.
The original recipe called for 1 cup of milk and 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons of sour cream. Now, I love the tang sour cream can give to baked goods so I thought I’d up that a bit. Rachel suggested omitting the milk and doubling the sour cream and/or cutting it with yogurt; I did the latter. I figure if I am going to continue on this baking binge I’ll need to justify it by adding some healthful aspects, so I used a combo of full-fat sour cream and low-fat yogurt. Hey, it works for me so let’s just go with that. This did make the batter a bit dryer so I mixed in a little milk until the texture seemed right.
I also have this thing about the combination of cardamom and apples. I don’t know what it is but the earthy, floral essence of cardamom always makes me smile and as I said before, I love apples. I put these two beauties together on a whim years ago when I made baked apples and that was it for me. Apples and cardamom are for me what apples and cinnamon are for most other people. Not that I have anything against the latter, I do that too but oh cardamom. Seriously, try it some time.
I also shortened the cook time by 10-15 minutes off the original time. I was guessing that with less actual liquid in the batter it probably wouldn’t need the full 70-75 minutes; it baked for 60 minutes.
Here’s my version of Rachel’s delicious recipe. I hope she likes the changes I made and I hope you enjoy it too!
Original Recipe can be found here.
½ cup butter, melted
¼ cup granulated sugar (I use raw sugar)
¼ cup + 2 tsp brown sugar, lightly packed
1 ½ teaspoons cinnamon
1 ½ teaspoons ground cardamom
1 cup + 3 tablespoons all purpose flour
Flavor Ribbon Ingredients
1 ¾ cups all purpose flour
Scant 1 cup of granulated sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 ½ teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon cardamom
½ teaspoon cinnamon
2/3 cup sour cream
1/3 cup yogurt
2 tablespoons milk
1 tablespoon vanilla
2 eggs, lightly beaten
- Preheat oven to 325°F. Spray a 9-inch baking pan with non-stick cooking spray (I use Trader Joe’s).
- In a medium bowl, combine the melted butter, both sugars, cinnamon and cardamom until well blended.
- Add in the flour in batches and mix with a fork until chunky and crumbly, set aside.
- In a small bowl, combine all of the flavor ribbon ingredients and set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl whisk all of the dry ingredients, flour through cinnamon together.
- Add the sour cream, yogurt, milk, vanilla and eggs. Mix until well combined.
- Fold in the apples.
- Pour about half of the batter into the prepared pan. Sprinkle the flavor ribbon over the filling and then top with the remaining batter.
- Break up the crumb topping if it’s stuck together and cover the batter with the crumbs.
- Bake in the oven for 60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
- Allow the cake to cool completely in the pan before slicing.