So you know how everyone has a *thing* for a certain kind of food? Like, some people can't pass up chocolate and Nutella makes them weak at the knees. Some swoon for truffles and some will go to the ends of the earth and beyond for that really good croissant or cupcake. Me? I'm weird. Chocolate leaves me fairly indifferent and ice cream will get only very polite attention. Cheesecake might make me stop for a moment and contemplate, but eventually I will probably pass it up. But a really good roasted chicken -- the kind that warms the house and smells of garlic, lemon and herbs -- now that, that will get me running and pushing everyone out of the way. Also, my grandma's kugel and my mom's buttermilk-ricotta tart with raisins (that I will tell you about pretty soon, it's awesome), and, strangely, coffee cake. I love coffee cake. What is it about this unassuming little cake that gets me so excited? I don't know, but if there is coffee cake around, especially laced with a hefty dose of raspberries or blueberries, and maybe swirled with cream cheese, don't leave me alone with it unless you want to come back to some crumbs and a sheepish face. I can't control myself, people, I've tried.
Surprisingly, I've never actually made a coffee cake. Oh, I've made bundts and apple cakes and muffins, but for some unknown reason, an honest to goodness coffee cake has eluded me. Until last weekend, that is. You see, when you've had a hell of a week, and work felt like a boxing rink with you as the referee, emails as boxing gloves and no rules, and the weekend just added to the exhaustion, all you really want is to curl up on the couch with a steaming cup of hot tea and a big (and I mean BIG) slice of raspberry coffee cake and shut the world off. If the world had an off switch, that is. Which, when I'm alone with my coffee cake, it apparently does. You've been warned.
For my maiden voyage in coffee cake making, I chose Deb's Big Crumb Coffee Cake because, frankly, I trust a New Yorker to choose a coffee cake, and especially I trust Deb to choose any kind of food. Now, the cake part of this cake was really delicious - soft, moist and fragrant, with a lovely crumb that cushioned the ungodly amount of raspberries I dumped into it. But I have a bone (a crumb?) to pick with the topping. Maybe it's because I didn't use brown sugar, but raw Hawaiian sugar, and maybe it's because I'm the only person in the universe who likes less crumb and more cake (I accept my limitations in this regard), I have to say that, while the topping was very good, it left me craving my aunt's cherry coffee cake where she uses the cold-diced butter method for the streusel rather than this melted-butter one. Next time, I am keeping the cake part of the recipe and re-doing the topping in the way that comforts me the most and gives that extra bit of a crunch that I was missing (my aunt dices cold butter with flour, sugar and cinnamon - oh, it's so good). Overall, though, I have to say my first experiment with coffee cake can be deemed a great success, so thanks Deb for another winner of a recipe!
Raspberry Coffee Cake
via Smitten Kitchen
Butter for greasing pan
For the raspberry filling:
1/2 lb fresh or thawed raspberries (this works out to be about a cup, but I used a cup and a half)
1/8 to 1/4 cup of sugar, depending on the tartness of the fruit
For the crumbs:
1/3 cup dark brown sugar
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger (I didn't use this)
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup melted butter
1 3/4 cups cake flour (or all purpose worked well too)
For the cake:
1/3 cup sour cream
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup cake flour (again, all purpose was just fine)
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons softened butter, cut into 8 pieces.
1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease an 8-inch-square baking pan. For filling, toss the raspberries with sugar. Set aside.
2. To make crumbs, in a large bowl, whisk together sugars, spices, salt and butter until smooth. Stir in flour with a spatula. It will look like a solid dough.
3. To prepare cake, in a small bowl, stir together the sour cream, egg, egg yolk and vanilla. Using a mixer fitted with paddle attachment, mix together flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Add butter and a spoonful of sour cream mixture and mix on medium speed until flour is moistened. Increase speed and beat for 30 seconds. Add remaining sour cream mixture in two batches, beating for 20 seconds after each addition, and scraping down the sides of bowl with a spatula. Scoop out about 1/2 cup batter and set aside (note: the batter will be very thick and hard to spread, and there won't be much of it - that's ok).
4. Scrape remaining batter into prepared pan. Spoon raspberries over batter. Dollop set-aside batter over raspberries; it does not have to be even.
5. Using your fingers, break topping mixture into big crumbs, about 1/2 inch to 3/4 inch in size. They do not have to be uniform, but make sure most are around that size. Sprinkle over cake. Bake cake until a toothpick inserted into center comes out clean of batter (it might be moist from raspberries), 45 to 55 minutes. Cool completely before serving.