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I’m what you’d call a literal dessert person. I want my carrot cake to taste like carrots and my pumpkin pie to taste more like the squash than the spice. I understand that the names we assign to certain dishes were created long ago and while they might have once been accurately descriptive, popular consumer preference has negated their meaning overtime. For example, medieval mincemeat pies used to include a mixture of sugar, spices, and meats and egg creams used to contain actual eggs. But the one dessert that always bothered me the most is coffee cake. I get it. It’s a cake you eat while drinking coffee. But I want it to taste like coffee too.
While the term “coffee cake” applies to numerous cake variations throughout the world, here in the states it typically refers to a streusel-topped cake that one might eat for breakfast or with an afternoon cup of coffee. Doesn’t it make sense to just whole hog the coffee theme and flavor the cake with it too? I think so.
So many afternoons spent working at coffee shops have been wasted thinking about why they would label their streusel crumb cake as a “coffee cake” when it clearly contained no coffee. And you thought social media was distracting.
This is coffee cake for true coffee lovers or for those who merely want their dessert to own up to its title. No frills, no misleading adjectives. This is a coffee coffee cake. At long last, a cake that doesn’t make you think it’s something it isn’t.
Coffee Coffee Cake
makes 12 bundtlettes or one 10-cup bundt cake
FOR THE TOPPING:
3 tablespoons unsalted cold butter, cut into small pieces
1/2 cup brown or turbinado sugar
1/4 cup flour
1 tablespoon instant espresso or instant coffee
optional: 1 tablespoon cocoa nibs
1. In a small bowl, add all the ingredients and, using the tips of your fingers or the tines of a fork, cut the butter into the mixture. Continue to cut the butter until the mix resembles coarse cornmeal. Set aside.
FOR THE CAKE:
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons instant espresso or instant coffee
1 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cup milk
1/4 cup coffee
1. Set the oven to 375 degrees and butter a 5-cup bundtlette pan.
2. In the bowl of your electric stand mixer, cream together the butter and sugar.
3. To the same bowl with the mixer set on low, add the eggs one at a time.
4. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and instant coffee.
5. In another bowl, combine the vanilla, milk, and coffee.
6. With the mixer set on low, slowly add a third of the flour mixture, let the mixer run for a few seconds, and then add about a third of the milk mixture. Continue alternating with the flour and milk mixtures until they are both gone, scraping down the bowl as needed.
7. Sprinkle about a tablespoon of the topping mixture into the bottom of each bundtlette mold.
8. Fill each mold 2/3 of the way up with batter, smoothing the tops with the back of a spoon. Give the pan a good knock on the counter to remove any trapped air bubbles. Place into oven and cook until a toothpick inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean (about 18-20 minutes). Let the bundlettes cool on a wire rack, sprinkle with powdered sugar, and serve.