A fantastic coffee cake recipe, it comes together fairly quickly, is dense and delicious and has a crunchy topping and glaze. Besides, it contains the magic words brown butter, so it really is a cake you should make now and keep on making whenever you need a hug.
At a time when the world is adjusting and we're wondering how much it will change and how quickly, this coffee cake will make your sunny day even better or your cloudy day brighter. A win-win situation if you ask me.
The recipe hails from Tessa's blog, Handle the Heat, and it's what she chose for this month's baking challenge.
I don't know about you, but coffee cakes in general, and brown butter, in particular, make me think of happy moments, very cheesy but so true. So yes, I associate the smell of brown butter with cozy hugs. Whatever.
The challenge was on and there was a debate as to what pan to use. Should I go for the traditional rectangular one or use a loaf cake pan and see what came out of it?
Since I was making the cake with a friend we each tried one.
But first, let's get into the recipe details.
What is brown butter?
Brown butter, or beurre noisette in French which literally translates to hazelnut butter, is regular butter that has been boiled (for lack of a better word) for a few minutes and stripped out of some of its water. Yeah, butter has water, sometimes a lot.
As this happens, the solids in the butter begin to brown and that amazing nutty smell begins to appear; hence the word hazelnut mentioned above. It gives regular baked goods (especially vanilla based) a deep, nutty flavor, almost sweetly smoked, that is so amazing you can only understand it if you try it.
It's like smoked vanilla x ten. Or so I think.
Making brown butter
Simple really. And there's a step-by-step brown butter post here in case you need it.
Just heat butter until it starts to foam, then sputter with large bubbles while chirping like a parrot (really, it chirps, you'll understand when you make it, especially if it's butter with high water content), until finally the noise and bubbles subside, the foam goes up again and beneath it, all the butter is browning and starting to smell beyond amazing.
I usually make a large batch, like say, half a pound of brown butter, keep it in the fridge for a few days and use it for whatever baked cakes or cookies I'm making.
It is worth the extra step. Trust me on this one.
Coffee cakes are traditionally sweet cakes - usually vanilla flavored - with cinnamon and maybe add-ons like crumble, nuts and cinnamon sugar.
Time has produced a million recipes and variations, but I think the most common ones involve sour cream (instead of milk) and cinnamon streusel in the batter and on top of it. Paradise with a cup of coffee or tea. Golden or matcha latte maybe if you're into trends. Who knows, I'm generation X, haha.
It is usually glazed with that wonderful combination of confectioners' sugar and liquid (milk, cream, lemon juice, or dark coffee which is my personal favorite) and it is the finishing touch that brings it all together. A slice of warm glazed coffee cake is truly a thing you remember.
This one checks all the boxes, the brown butter takes it up a notch, and - and this is a big and - the recipe uses melted butter, so no creaming. How's that for easiness?
Worth every calorie and minute you spend making it.Print
Easy coffee cake with brown butter (and melted!) and cinnamon streusel.
For the streusel
- ¾ cup (150g) light brown sugar
- ⅓ cup (45g) all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 4 tablespoons (60g) unsalted butter, melted
For the coffee cake
- ¾ cup (170g) unsalted butter (at room tº)
- 2 cups (280g) all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ cup (50g) granulated sugar
- ½ cup (100g) packed light brown sugar
- ¼ cup whole milk (at room tº)
- 2 large eggs (at room tº)
- 8 ounces (225g) sour cream, at room tº
For the glaze
- ½ cup (65g) powdered sugar
- 1 tablespoon milk or lemon juice
- Preheat oven to 350ºF / 180ºC.
- Butter or spray a 9x4-inch loaf pan or a 9-inch square pan.
- Line with parchment paper if wanted.
For the streusel
- In a small bowl mix all ingredients together until the mixture resembles wet sand. Reserve.
For the cake
- Melt butter in a saucepan with high sides, at medium heat, until it begins to foam.
- Bubbles will appear and a chirping noise will begin. Let it boil away until the bubbles and noise subside and the surface covers with foam.
- Lower the heat and watch carefully, twirling the pan a few times until a nutty smell appears and, beneath the foam, the butter is amber colored. Be careful not to burn it!.
- You have brown butter now. Transfer it to a medium bowl and let cool slightly.
- Add the milk (first to lower the temperature), the eggs, and sour cream to the warm butter and mix lightly.
- In a large bowl sift together flour, baking powder, and salt. Add both sugars and mix to combine.
- Make a well in the center and add the wet ingredients.
- Mix with a spatula until combined, like you would a muffin mix, but careful not to overmix.
- Spoon half of this batter in the prepared pan.
- Sprinkle with half the streusel mixture.
- Cover with the other half of the batter and end with the remaining streusel.
- Bake for 40-45 minutes, depending on the pan you use until a tester comes out clean.
- The loaf pan might take a bit more.
- Let cool for 10 on a wire rack and carefully unmold. Some sugar might be stuck to the sides.
For the glaze
- Mix sugar and liquid until creamy and lump free.
- Drizzle over the cake.
- Keep wrapped at room tº for a few days.
Pans: this cake was both great as a loaf and as a small sheet cake.
Flavorings: you can add other spices or citrus zest both to the batter or to the crumble. Maybe cardamom or tangerine?
Keywords: brown butter coffee cake
Recipe from Handle the Heat