Nothing is more warming and comforting on a brisk autumn day than coffee cake. Not to mention that it’s the perfect excuse for indulging your sweet tooth first thing in the morning.
A form of quick bread, coffee cakes are easy to assemble, too. Put one in the oven. Make a pot of coffee. And your family and houseguests will awake to the tantalizing aromas of caffeine wafting with cinnamon, toasted pecans, brown sugar and butter. Add sliced apples to the mix, and you have the perfect paean to fall.
Sour cream or vegetable oil ensure moistness. But coffee cakes needn’t be gussied up with toppings. A coffee cake can be pure and plain.
The late great food writer Marion Cunningham, who died in July, was a teetotaler who loved coffee and cake. Starting with a rich batter that tastes like vanilla ice cream, her coffee cake is simplicity itself. With its exceedingly soft texture, it hits all the pound-cake notes without the density.
In her new book, “Pecans” (UNC Press), Charlotte Observer food writer Kathleen Purvis tells us about a Charlotte restaurant that served a coffee cake so popular that the kitchen had to make two dozen pans a day. You’ll understand why when you fork into this nutty spiced cake slathered with strawberry-pecan butter.
Drizzled with icing and laden with pecans, cinnamon and raisins, our Apple-Pecan Coffee Cake has the flavor of cinnamon rolls and the structure of a coffee cake.
Just keep the cake beside the coffee pot and let your guests help themselves. It’s a magnet for nibblers. And when you want to take a homemade treat to a brunch – or even a wake – you really should consider the coffee cake.
For a printable copy of the recipes, click the links: