Sometimes you plan on making a dessert for a specific occasion and then something comes up. The dessert doesn’t get made, but the desire to make that dessert stays strong.
This happened with these coffee cakes. I thought they would make the perfect little snack when we had company recently, but the weekend was full of food and these perfect cakes didn’t get made. Which was a shame. Until this past weekend, when I decided that even though I said I would bring dessert to a friend’s dinner party, I would bring these. Coffee cake doesn’t only need to be served in the afternoon. It can also be served after dinner with coffee.
The recipe seems a bit finicky, with the pastry bag and piped swirls. But the resulting distinct layers are fantastic. You get moist cake, a layer of cocoa which is reminiscent of chocolate chips – but oh so much nicer! – and then the wonderful crunch. Then a dusting of powdered sugar, cinnamon, and cocoa, and the flavor combination is just heaven! Serve with a freshly home-made latte, good friends, and good conversation, and you’ve got the perfect end to a meal!
One final word of advice: Be careful about your piping. I piped too much batter into the bottom layer of my cakes and ran out of batter, so two of my six coffee cakes just had one layer of batter (and then the layer of chocolate and then the streusel). So it wasn’t a catastrophe, but it did mean that some of the cakes were less of a flavor/texture punch than the recipe intended.
(The coffee cake looks so good, this coffee wants a piece!)
From Bouchon Bakery
203 grams all-purpose flour
5.5 grams (1 1/8 teaspoon) baking powder
1.7 grams (3/8 teaspoon) baking soda
1.7 grams (1/2 teaspoon) kosher salt
75 grams unsalted butter, at room temperature
210 grams granulated sugar
75 grams eggs
20 grams vanilla paste
225 grams creme fraiche or sour cream
15 grams light brown sugar
15 grams unsweetened alkalized cocoa powder
180 grams almond streusel topping (see below)
Note: In France, Parisians like pound cake with their morning coffee. Here we love coffee cake. These individual coffee cakes are richly flavored but light, so that they almost melt in your mouth. There’s a crunch on the outside from the almond streusel topping and a soft interior crumb. The cakes are finished with a dusting a cocoa powder, powdered sugar, and cinnamon, just a hint, so there are all kinds of flavors intermingling here.
These are baked at a lower temperature than most cakes. Don’t be tempted to increase the temperature to 350F, or the coffee cakes will get too dark too fast.
Materials: You’ll need six 4 1/2 inch round paper baking molds or six 4 1/2 inch mini springform pans and a pastry bag with a 3/8 inch plain tip. For this recipe, we use Guittard Cocoa Rouge. Coffee cakes baked in a convection oven will have a more domed top.
For the batter: Place the flour in a medium bowl. Sift in the baking powder and baking soda, then add the salt and whisk together.
Place the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Turn to medium-low speed and cream the butter, warming the bowl if needed, until it has the consistency of mayonnaise and holds a peak with the paddle is lifted. Add the sugar and mix on medium-low speed for 1 to 2 minutes, until the mixture is fluffy. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl. Add the eggs and vanilla paste and mix for 15 to 30 seconds on low speed, until just combined. (Overwhipping the eggs could cause the cakes to expand too much during baking and then deflate.)
Add the flour mixture and creme fraiche alternately in the following amounts, beating on low speed for about 15 seconds after each addition: one-third of the flour mixture, one-third of the creme fraiche, one-third of the flour mixture, one-third of the creme fraiche, the remaining flour mixture, and the remaining creme fraiche. Cover the batter and refrigerate for about 20 minutes to firm.
Preheat the oven to 325F (convection or standard). Spray the paper molds or springform pans with nonstick spray and set them on a sheet pan.
For the topping: Whisk together the brown sugar and cocoa in a small bowl, breaking up any lumps.
Transfer the batter to the pastry bag and pipe a 1/4-inch-deep spiral (60 grams) in the bottom of each mold. Dust the top of each with 5 grams (2 teaspoons) of the cocoa mixture. Pipe a second spiral of batter over the cocoa, stopping at least 1/4 inch from the top of the mold. Sprinkle the tops with streusel: 30 grams (3 tablespoons) each. (The cakes can be refrigerated for up to 3 days before baking.)
Bake for 25 to 30 minutes in a convection oven, 35 to 0 minutes in a standard oven, or until the tops are golden brown and a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean. (If the cakes have been refrigerated, the baking time will be slightly longer.) Set the sheet pan on a cooling rack and cool completely.
The coffee cakes are best the day they are baked, but they can be wrapped individually in plastic wrap and frozen. Defrost frozen cakes at room temperature, and rewarm if desired.
Just before serving, dust the tops with powdered sugar and then a very light dusting of cocoa and cinnamon.
Almond Streusel Topping
120 grams all-purpose flour
120 grams almost flour/meal
120 grams granulated sugar
0.6 grams (1/4 teaspoon) kosher salt
120 grams cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
Combine the all-purpose flour, almond flour, sugar, and salt in a bowl and whisk to break up any lumps.
Add the butter and toss to coat the pieces. Work the mixture with your fingertips, breaking the butter into pieces no larger than 1/8 inch and combining it with the flour mixture. Do not overwork the mixture or allow the butter to become soft; if it does, place the bowl in the refrigerator to harden the butter before continuing.
Transfer the streusel to a covered container or resealable plastic bag. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or up to 2 days, or freeze for up to 1 month. Use the streusel while it is cold.