I love coffee cake. Who’s with me????? Get the beat going, let’s form a conga line—one hand on the hip of the person in front of you and the other hand holding a cup of coffee. With exuberance we can dance our way to a table laden with marvelous coffee cakes. Dang I love that visual.
So I asked myself—-Self, you know what you consider a coffee cake, but what is the definitive definition? (I like the alliteration of those two words together—goes with the beat of the conga line.) So naturally I commenced an in-depth research effort utilizing EncycloGoogle. Oh yes darling, I’m doing a culinary research paper on coffee cakes. It sounds soooo scholarly and my ego genuinely enjoys inflating itself. So here’s the story—
Once upon a time long long ago in Central and Northern Europe during the 1600’s, cooks in Germany and the Scandinavian countries were baking traditional sweet yeast breads brimming with fruits, nuts and spices, which was often cinnamon. Then—drum roll please— there was a wonderful cultural life changing occurrence. COFFEE WAS INTRODUCED IN EUROPE (capitals for such an auspicious event is absolutely necessary). It was a natural inevitability that coffee was matched up with the traditional sweat breads as an obvious accompaniment. Thus the first coffee cakes more resembled breads than cake.
Today coffee cakes are a moist, tender single layer cake frequently topped with streusel or a light glaze in lieu of frosting. The texture of coffee cakes is not fine like many cakes. There is no heavy beating or sifting of flour and sometimes oatmeal is incorporated in the dough. Still chock full of flavorful fruits, nuts and a variety of spices coffee cakes are now additionally enhanced with a myriad of other ingredients such as yogurt, sour cream and chocolate. However despite their name most coffee cakes do not contain coffee. Remember, language obscurity is a cherished art form.
I throw my hat high into the air and bow to the east to thank the German women who brought over the concept of ‘Kaffeklatsch’—a break in the day to meet for coffee and to share a sweet and conviviality. Coffee cakes migrated into American cookbooks by the late 1800’s, where it was more common for recipes to utilize coffee as an ingredient. Surprisingly coffee cakes have transformed into an American cake phenomenon. Its European cousins are teacakes, which are served with tea but normally don’t contain tea as an ingredient.
Just keeping it real—making a coffee cake is a piece of cake. Despite the lame pun which personally I like a lot, coffee cakes truly are an easy, quick, tasty treat to prepare. They are ready to eat right out of the oven, which is great for those of us who have a childish streak and find it difficult to delay gratification when the house is filled with aromatic smells.
Allie at Baking a Moment is Fantasmagnifiso Baker! (I made that word up. Do you like it?. Doesn’t matter, I do. Allie’s baking deserves a special adjective.) She has kindly contributed the following fabulous coffee cakes to whet your appetite for this delectable category of cake treats.
Along with cakes like these you might like to try Camano Island Coffee. Excellent shade grown organic coffee. The company pays three fair trade price to the farmers.
COFFEE CAKE WITH PLUMS & WALNUT CARDAMOM STREUSEL
This cake demonstrates that coffee cake doesn’t have to be square and it actually has coffee as an ingredient. Fancy that!
CHESTNUT PRALINE COFFEE BUNDT CAKE
BROWN BUTTER CREAM CHEESE JEWISH APPLE CAKE