Battle of the Coffee Cakes

We’ve been on a bit of a coffee cake kick over here in the Recipe Box Project kitchen lately. Whether it’s for friends in town visiting, hosting a weekend brunch, or just for ourselves as a weekday morning treat, coffee cake is one of those things that takes a normal morning from ho-hum to spectacular… something that’s particularly important when you’re starting month four of Extremely Early Mornings thanks to a Puppy Who Sleeps All Day and Wakes Up at the Crack of Dawn.*

coffee cake #1

coffee cake #1

I’ve made three coffee cakes in the last month, but I’m gonna try to drop them on you gradually so I don’t overwhelm you with too many breakfast options at once. So here are two lovely ones to start with: The first one is an easy recipe—one bowl, no weird ingredients (unless you’re like me and realise halfway through making it that you don’t have enough milk. Facepalm.), and best of all, no fruit to prep. The crumb on this one was spectacular—dense but still fluffy, soft and pillowy but still crumbly, the perfect combination of cake and breakfast bread. But that description does nothing to prepare you for the amazing crust. You guys, the crust on this is so spectacular. I mean, you’ve got cake batter, you’ve covered it in melted butter, and then you sprinkle it with sugar and cinnamon and just enough flour to make it come together and cook it on high? It’s perfect. Crispy and spicy with just enough crunch to make you excited for that top layer, even a day after it’s made.

coffee cake #1

coffee cake #1

Coffee cake #1

Coffee cake #1

The other one involves prepping some apples (peeling and chopping very finely), but otherwise also nice and simple, one bowl, and a sticky-sweet, toasty topping bursting with apple flavour. This one looks perfect in its pan but even better popped out of it; it stands tall and fluffy and looks amazing on a cake stand served up at a brunch. Best on the first day, when the topping is still that perfect balance of crispy and sticky, but it still tastes great on day two or three.

Coffee cake #2

Coffee cake #2

Judson and I have been passing an irritatingly long-lasting summer cold back and forth for awhile, so I didn’t feel comfortable sharing these cakes with anyone, just in case… which ended up being even better because, well, more for us! Plus, what better motivation is there for getting out of bed on a morning when you’re still battling the world’s most lingering cold than the promise of a warm slice of coffee cake, a hot cup of coffee, and a sunshine-filled Scotland day? Also, they freeze beautifully, so make one of each and pop half in the freezer for your next busy week.

*This time of year, the sun literally rises in Edinburgh around 4:30am, so when I say crack of dawn, I mean MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT.

Coffee Cake #2

Coffee Cake #2

Coffee Cake #2

Coffee Cake #2

The verdict:
COffee Cake 1: Quick & easy plush coffee cake

5 spoons out of five. This is an amazing breakfast treat, and probably you should make it to help get you through this week. Seriously, make this coffee cake ASAP. I opted to leave mine in the cake pan for a more rustic (read: lazy) approach, but you could just as easily line the pan with paper and remove it to serve on a platter. Or make it as cupcakes. Or bake it in a springform pan so you can just remove the ring and serve!

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coffee cake 2: Sticky-Toasty apple coffee Cake

4 spoons out of five. This cake is great, but it's slightly more work than the first one (due to the apples) and its much better on day 1 than day 2, so I subtracted a spoon for both of those.

one year ago: White cake with creamy chocolate frosting
Two years ago: Mandarin Barbecue chicken

The recipe:

Quick & Easy Plush Coffee Cake

the directions:

Preheat oven to 200C/400F and grease a 9-inch cake pan.
Sift 2 c flour once, then measure.
Add baking powder, salt, and ½ c sugar, then sift again.
Cut in 6 tbsp butter.
Beat egg and milk together, then add to flour mixture, stirring until blended.
Turn into prepared pan and spread evenly (mixture will be thick).
Melt remaining 1 ½ tbsp butter and brush over batter in pan.
Mix together remaining 4 tbsp sugar, 1 tbsp flour, and cinnamon (and cardamom, if using).
Bake 15-20 minutes until pick inserted in middle comes out clean.

the ingredients:

2 c + 1 tbsp flour
2 tsp baking powder
¾ tsp salt
½ c + 4 tbsp sugar, divided
7 ½ tbsp butter, divided
1 egg, beaten well
½ c milk
½ tsp cinnamon
Optional: ¼ tsp ground cardamom

The recipe:

Sticky-Toasty Apple Coffee Cake

The directions:

Grease a springform or 8x10 square pan. 
Preheat oven to 175C/350F.
Sift together flour, sugar, nutmeg, cinnamon, salt & baking powder.
Cut shortening into dry ingredients until it looks like cornmeal
Add eggs & milk then stir until smooth.
Pour into prepared pan and cover with apples.
Sprinkle with brown sugar (up to 1/3 c depending on tartness of your apples and your taste).
Bake 20-30 minutes until well-brown on top and a tester inserted in the middle comes out clean.

the ingredients:

2 c flour
3/4 c sugar
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp salt
4 tsp baking powder
1/4 c shortening or Stork
3 eggs
1 c milk
1 c apples, peeled & chopped finely
1/4 to 1/3 c brown sugar (to taste)