A Tale of Two Coffee Cakes: Part 1

21 Apr

Part I:  Chocolate & Nut Coffee Cake with Streusel Topping

cake 2fi

What exactly makes a “Coffee Cake”?  There’s no coffee in it, after all!  When I think coffee cake, I typically think of some sort of quick bread/cake hybrid.  Standard fare for a brunch buffet or as a welcome treat for house guests in your home.  Rich and buttery, sweet enough to eat for dessert, and the perfect apparatus for fruit fillings (think sliced apples or plump blueberries) and nuts and other sweet bites, with endless variation.  And given the name, it’s perfectly situated alongside your morning cup o’ joe.

The following recipes (stay tuned for the second recipe!) showcase two of the many variations of the all-encompassing “Coffee Cake” name, but produce two very different cakes.

One uses the cake “creaming” method of mixing while the other comes together via the “muffin method” (Not sure what these terms mean?  Read on!).  One is chocolaty and the other is filled with fruit.  One uses butter, the other uses oil. One has a streusel topping, the other does not.  I baked both in loaf pans this time around, though either could be baked in a cake pan.

This first coffee cake is a big deal in my house.  Search “coffee cake” and this is the sort of recipe that pops up…starts with butter, then gets hit with plenty of cinnamon, yogurt for tang and moistness, and speckled with chocolate chips and maple-y pecans…add a sprinkling of cinnamon streusel on top and set your heart aflutter!


Okay. So about this creaming method.  Most butter (or shortening)-based cakes use this method of mixing.  The idea behind it is that you want to incorporate lots of air into the batter in order to produce a light, tender, and even-crumb cake.  Don’t worry–it’s super easy to do!

Start with room temperature butter and begin to beat on medium speed. Slowly add in your sugar(s) while continuing to beat on medium-high speed, until the butter mixture is pale in color and increased in volume (a stand mixer works best here….a hand mixer is next best, but I wouldn’t recommend trying to do this without a mixer of some sort).  Pause occasionally to scrape down the bowl.  After this, you’ll add in your eggs (let them sit at room temperature for a bit before you add them into the creamed butter so they incorporate easier), and then alternate your dry and wet ingredients.  Ta da!  You’re finished 🙂


  • ½ c. (1 stick) butter, at room temperature
  • ½ c. brown sugar
  • ½ c. white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 6 oz. plain Greek yogurt (look for a single serving cup….usually 6 oz.!)
  • 2 oz. milk
  • 1 2/3 c. whole wheat flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • ½ tsp. baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • Generous dashes of cinnamon (probably ¾ tsp. if you really want to measure!)
  • ½ c. chocolate chips
  • ½ c. chopped pecans or walnuts

My Favorite Streusel:

  • 4 tbsp (1/2 stick) COLD butter
  • ½ c. brown sugar
  • ½ c. oats
  • ½ c. flour
  • 3 tbsp ground flax
  • ¼ c. pecans or walnuts
  • A few dashes of cinnamon and a pinch of salt


  • Stand mixer with standard beater attachment
  • Spatula
  • 2 additional bowls (a cereal bowl is fine)
  • Measuring cups and spoons; liquid measuring cup
  • Mini food processor (optional, for streusel)
  • Loaf pan


  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. Cream together your butter and sugars on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy.
  3. Add in vanilla and eggs, one at a time on medium speed, pausing to scrape down the edges of the bowl.
  4. In a separate bowl, combine the yogurt and milk.  In the other small bowl, combine your dry ingredients (flour, baking soda and powder, salt, cinnamon).
  5. On medium-low speed, add in 1/3 of the dry mix.  Then add in ½ of the yogurt-milk mix.  Add half of the remaining dry mix, and then the remaining wet mix.  Finish with the remaining dry mix and stir until just combined.
  6. Fold in chocolate chips and nuts until just combined.
  7. Pour batter into a greased loaf pan and spread batter evenly in the pan (it will be thick!).  Set aside to prepare the streusel.
  8. The streusel: in your food processor, combine sugar, oats, flour, ground flax, pecans, cinnamon, and salt.  Pulse briefly to combine.
  9. Cut cold butter into 4 pieces, then add to food processor and pulse 20-30 times until mix looks like wet sand.
  10. Sprinkle streusel on top of batter, and use your hands to lightly press the streusel into the batter (just a bit!)
  11. Bake for 50-55 minutes, until cake tester comes out clean, or with just a few crumbs.  Cool in pan for 25-30 minutes, then remove from pan.
  12. **I made a little glaze to drizzle on top after it cooled.  Start with a cup or so of confectioner’s sugar, then add in 1 tbsp of water or milk and stir to combine.  Add a bit more liquid if necessary.  Finish with a dash of cinnamon and splash of vanilla.




One Response to “A Tale of Two Coffee Cakes: Part 1”

  1. Lori April 27, 2013 at 7:35 PM #

    I can testify — this is awesome! I was among the first to try it and I feel very lucky!

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