About the Recipe
For most people, quintessential New York foods include staples like bagels, pizza and Grey’s Papaya. For me, the list includes coffee cake. Like anyone else trying it for the very first time, I imagined coffee cake would be coffee-flavored. In fact, coffee cake earned its moniker because it’s designed to go especially well with coffee.
Now it’s true that the same could be said of most other desserts, but coffee cake is an all-occasion kind of player. A moist and substantial but not overly dense cake topped very generously with a sweet and crunchy streusel crumble, a coffee cake hits the spot for breakfast, your afternoon caffeine and sugar fix, PMS cravings, herb-induced munchies, an time is coffee cake time.
And the beauty of coffee cake was that it was so easy to find. You could pick up a slice at the nearest bodega, deli, convenience store and, when you needed an entire cake to plant your face in, perhaps after dating the equally quintessential New York dawg, a box of the sweet, artificially flavored heaven that was Entenmann’s at the grocery store.
But like the 90s, Entenmanns and bodega pastries lie firmly in my past. Fortunately, making it from scratch is, well, quite literally, a piece of cake. This version, adapted from an Ina Garten recipe, includes a hint of lemon zest and lots of fresh blueberries, which helps to cut the sweetness even further. It’s equally all-purpose and goes just as well with tea as it does with coffee. It’s easy to make, and, kept in an airtight container, tastes even better the next day. Just pop in the microwave or oven toaster and your next day’s coffee break will be complete.
Unless of course you’ve just realized that you were dating another dirty dawg, in which case, you have my blessing to face plant into the entire cake today.
For the streusel:
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
½ stick unsalted butter (113 grams), melted
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
For the cake:
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest
2/3 cup sour cream
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup fresh blueberries
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour a 9-inch round baking pan.
For the streusel:
Combine the granulated sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon, and
nutmeg in a bowl. Stir in the melted butter and then the flour. Mix well and set aside.
For the cake:
Cream the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer
fitted with the paddle attachment on high speed for 4 to 5 minutes, until light. Reduce the speed to low and add the eggs 1 at a time, then add the vanilla, lemon zest, and sour cream.
In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture to the batter until just combined. Fold in the blueberries and stir with a spatula to be sure the batter is completely mixed.
Spoon the batter into the prepared pan and spread it out with a knife. With your fingers, crumble the topping evenly over the batter. Bake for 40 to 50 minutes, until a cake tester or toothpick comes out clean. Cool completely and serve sprinkled with confectioners' sugar.