Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Sour Cream Coffee Cake

The first time my mom made this cake, I thought Ew.

Sour cream? In a cake?! I should mention I was probably 10 and had yet to recognize the amazing things sour cream can do for a cake. Or a taco.

Plus, there were nuts. Like, double ew. But then I had a slice. And I was in heaven. The cake is so delicious and fluffy. There was a crunchy cinnamon-sugar crust on the bottom AND the top, PLUS a delicious chocolatey ribbon running through the middle. I barely had time to notice the nuts before I was reaching for a second slice. Since then, it has become the pre-eminent coffee cake at our house and was a shoe-in for dessert for Yom Kippur. (Sorry about the pictures in the next few posts. My camera is out of commission so I'm left with my iPhone, plus, I was shooting pictures in the middle of a dinner party. Not ideal.)

The recipe also comes from one of my favorite cookbooks: Lessons in Gourmet Cooking by Libby Hillman. Some people had Joy, we had Libby, Copyright 1963. The original copy we had completely fell apart so I had to hunt down a second copy on Ebay many years ago. When it arrived it had that great old musty book smell, but even it's starting to lose its pages now. Not only are the recipes classic and dependable every time, but look at the illustrations!

 Cake Failure and their Causes

Various kinds of Pans used in Recipes

How to Bone Chicken

The perfect Cesar salad dressing comes from this book, as does the crepe recipe my mom has been using on Saturday mornings since I was born. That's right, no pancakes for us. Pass the crepes. One day I think I might have to kidnap it from my mom and really read through it, cover to cover, to find those other hidden gems.

Sour Cream Coffee Cake
Yield: Serves 12

2 Tbsp granulated sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
4 oz chopped semi-sweet chocolate
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1 stick unsalted butter
1 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup sour cream

1. Preheat oven to 350. Grease and flour a bundt cake pan.
2. Combine the 2 Tbsp of sugar and cinnamon. Add the nuts and chocolate and toss to combine. Set aside.
2. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together. Set aside.
3. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter. Add sugar gradually and beat until mixture is blended, 2-3 minutes.
4. Add eggs one at a time with vanilla extract. With the mixer on low, add dry ingredients and sour cream alternately, beginning and ending with flour.
5. In the bottom of the cake pan, sprinkle a third of the chocolate and nut mixture. Pour in half the batter and smooth. Sprinkle half the remaining chocolate and nuts over the batter. Pour remaining batter into pan. Smooth out evenly and add remaining chocolate and nuts.
6. Bake at 350 for 45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool and invert the pan to remove the cake. Slice and serve.

Recipe from Libby Hillman's Lessons in Gourmet Cooking


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