Thursday, August 15, 2013

Double Crunch Sour Cream Coffee Cake

         At one point or another, savory cooks have to conclude their cooking is far less complicated than the exact science baking requires.  A savory cook can pretty much play it by ear, adding or subtracting ingredients, substituting one thing for another and still end up with a winning dish.  But leave out an ingredient in a cake or confuse baking soda with baking powder and a baker’s end result is often doomed.   That’s what impressed me with Andrew’s latest version of Coffee Cake.  Anyone whose been lucky enough to sample his baked goods knows this is a guy who knows his way around a Kitchen-Aid. But this latest creation was so over-the-top delicious, so perfectly baked, I’d like him to take a deep bow.

John Barricelli
The foundation of Andrew’s recipe was yet another gift from John Barricelli.  (If it’s starting to sound like John Barricelli is our baking guru, that’s not far from the truth).  From his first cookbook “The SoNo Baking Company Cookbook” (Clarkson Potter 2010), Chef Barricelli’s Sour Cream Coffee Cake was the basis for Andrew’s invention.  Andrew purposely wanted to double the quotient of crunchy, cinnamon-y brown sugar and pecan crumble, adding a thicker layer of it mid-cake as well as upping the amount of topping the original recipe called for.  He made the second change out of necessity: 
When he went into the fridge, we were short on sour cream.  He used what we had and then made up for the difference by calling some Greek Yogurt into service.  The result was a rich, creamy-moist cake – a perfect counterpoint to the two wallops of brown sugar pecan goodness displayed on top and hidden deep in the middle of the cake.   While coffee cake has a distinctly morning feeling to it, this cake was so good, it was eaten with some afternoon tea and again as a dessert after dinner with some ice cream.  Since Andrew has done all the experimentation, you can just follow along with his recipe. Don't be put off by the number of steps below. I just took pictures of almost every action along the way.  And here is the recipe:

Recipe for Double Crunch Sour Cream Coffee Cake   
Makes 1 10 inch Tube Cake, serving 12
For the Topping:
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 cups pecans, finely chopped

For the Cake:
1 cup sour cream
1 cup Greek Yogurt
2 teaspoons baking soda
3 1/2 cups cake flour, sifted
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter at room temperature
2 cups granulated sugar
2 teaspoons coarse salt
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1 1/2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract

1. To make the topping: In a small bowl, stir together the brown sugar, cinnamon and finely chopped pecans with a fork until combined; set aside.
2. Set the oven rack in the middle position. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Spray a 10-inch tube pan (preferably with removable bottom) with nonstick cooking spray, or generously brush with softened butter; dust with flour and shake out the excess.

3. To make the cake: In a small bowl, stir together the sour cream,yogurt and baking soda; set aside. 

4. Whisk together the cake flour and baking powder in another bowl; set aside.

5. In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter, sugar, and salt on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl halfway through.  Add the eggs one at a time, beating after each addition.  Beat in the vanilla.
6. With the mixer on low speed, add the dry ingredients in three batches, alternating with the sour cream mixture and beating well after each addition.

7. Scrape half of the batter into the prepared pan.  

8. Sprinkle half of the topping mixture, avoiding the edges of the pan so that the sides are smooth and the filling is hidden. Use a knife to gently swirl the topping mixture into the batter. 

9. Add the remaining batter and smooth the top. 

10. Sprinkle with the rest of the topping mixture.

11. Place the pan on a baking sheet and bake, rotating the sheet about two-thirds of the way through the baking time, until the top of the cake springs back when touched and a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean, 50 to 60 minutes.
12. Transfer the tube pan to a wire rack and let the cake cool completely in the pan. Using a spatula, loosen the sides of the cake from the pan, then lift the cake up and off the center tube.  Serve at room temperature.  


  1. You are right..the cake does look fabulous. Greek Yogurt and sour cream...I have to try that. I am not a baker, and it could have been me that you described in the first paragraph :)

    1. I guess the lesson here is not to be intimidated! And this cake is a wonderful way to start to bake. All best and thanks for commenting. Monte