Poppyseed, Prune and Lemon Coffee Cake

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Coffee cake has always seemed a bit boring to me.  In a land filled with pies and cookies and brownies, why would you ever choose a coffee cake?  It’s cake’s slightly dry cousin.  I never see a coffee cake recipe and think, “Yeah, I’ll spend time making that” when I could be spending time making something more satisfying.

That was all until I saw this recipe from Tasting Table.  Do you get the Tasting Table emails?  If not, you should.  So many great recipes and interesting gift ideas abound in every email.  This coffee cake looked absolutely decadent (it should – there’s almost three cups of sugar – ack!) But I figured in the name of Thanksgiving indulgence and postpartum cravings, I’d dive in and try it.  And I dadgum near ate the entire pan myself.  Not my proudest moment, but it was pretty enjoyable.  The filling reminded me of fig newtons and the lemon zest brightened the entire sugar-laden thing up.  I’d definitely recommend making this when you have family in your house over Christmas.  It makes a ton, it feeds and satisfies a lot (or one person over the course of a week) and it is super comforting.  Enjoy!

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Poppyseed, Prune and Lemon Coffee Cake
makes one 13×9 cake

For the Streusel:

1 cup all-purpose flour
3 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
1¼ teaspoons ground ginger
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

For the Coffee Cake:

Softened unsalted butter, for greasing
3¾ cups all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1½ teaspoons salt
¼ teaspoon baking soda
1 cup (16 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted
1 cup buttermilk
4 large eggs, at room temperature, beaten
¼ cup sour cream
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

For the Filling:
½ cup chopped prunes
½ cup packed dark brown sugar
¼ cup poppy seeds
Zest of 1 lemon

1. Make the streusel: In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, sugar, light brown sugar, ginger and cinnamon until everything is well incorporated. Add the melted butter to the flour-spice mixture and mix with a fork or a wooden spoon until fully incorporated and clumps begin to form. Make ahead: Unbaked streusel can be stored in an airtight container in the freezer for up to a month.

2. Make the cake: Preheat the oven to 350°. Grease a 13- x 9-inch baking pan with the softened butter and dust the pan with flour.

3. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and baking soda.

4. In a separate large bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, eggs, sour cream, vanilla extract and melted butter until very smooth.

5. Using a rubber spatula, mix the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until well combined.

6. Layer half the batter in the prepared baking pan; smooth it out to the edge leveling the top with an offset spatula. (Tip: Since the batter is so thick, it’s best to scoop it in ¼ cup mounds into the pan before spreading.)

7. Sprinkle the prunes evenly over the batter then sprinkle with the dark brown sugar and the poppy seeds. Top the filling with the lemon zest.

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8. Layer the remaining batter over the filling using the same method mentioned above. Smooth out the top of the batter, ensuring it is even and reaches the edges of the pan. Sprinkle the top with the streusel, and then bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean, about 45 to 55 minutes.  I had to bake it over an hour to get the middle done.  I recommend rotating it halfway through baking!

*recipe from Tasting Table

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Triple Layer Coconut Cake

Thomas Keller's Coconut Cake
Amazingly dense, rich, saturated with coconut flavor with a light, fluffy, creamy frosting that only compliments and doesn’t overpower the rich, dense and super-moist cake.  Yes, of course, this was the best coconut cake we’ve ever had.  And why, is that? Because it’s Thomas Keller’s recipe, and as anyone who has ever heard of or seen one of his cookbooks will know, everything he touches is gold.  This recipe, however, is not found in any of his cookbooks, but was featured in an article on Saveur magazine online.  It was a recipe that took him back to his childhood, to having a cake very similar to this in a small town diner.  We had this recipe bookmarked for months and finally gave it a go.  While you can tell from the pictures that my layering techniques leave something to be desired, the flavors were amazing.  Spot on.  I even took it to a picnic in 80 degree weather and it held up (barely).  This cake needs to be chilled the adequate time recommended, for sure.  Even with my missteps and imperfect execution, it was one of the best cakes I’ve had in years.

Go forth!  Be bold!  Make this cake!  We changed nothing – this is just one of those “I made it, so can you” kind of posts,  so I’ll simply copy the recipe for you, here!  Happy Weekend!

Keller's Coconut Cake

Triple Layer Coconut Cake

FOR THE CAKE:
Unsalted butter, for greasing
2 cups flour
1 cup desiccated coconut
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. kosher salt
1½ cups sugar
eggs, separated
1¼ cup mayonnaise
¾ cup coconut milk
½ cup, plus 1 tbsp. buttermilk
2 tsp. coconut extract
2 tsp. vanilla extract

FOR THE MERINGUE:
6 egg whites
1⅔ cups sugar
3 cups sweetened shredded coconut

INSTRUCTIONS

Make the cake: Heat oven to 325°. Grease three 9″ cake pans with butter and line with parchment paper; set aside. Whisk flour, desiccated coconut, baking powder, and salt in a bowl; set aside. Place sugar and egg yolks in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment; mix until fluffy. Add mayonnaise, coconut milk, buttermilk, coconut and vanilla extracts; mix until combined. With the motor running, slowly add dry ingredients until batter forms; transfer batter to a bowl and set aside. Clean stand mixer bowl and add egg whites; replace paddle with whisk attachment. Whip whites until soft peaks form; fold into cake batter. Divide batter between prepared pans, smoothing tops with a rubber spatula; drop pans lightly on a counter to expel large air bubbles. Bake until a toothpick inserted in middle comes out clean, about 25 minutes. Let cakes cool for 20 minutes in pans; invert onto wire racks and let cool.Make the meringue: Using an electric hand mixer, beat egg whites in a bowl until medium-stiff peaks form, 5–7 minutes; set aside. Bring sugar and ¼ cup water to a boil in a 2-qt. sauce pan fitted with a candy thermometer; cook, without stirring, until temperature reaches 250°, 4–5 minutes. With the mixer on low, slowly drizzle hot syrup into egg whites until combined. Increase speed to high; beat until meringue forms stiff peaks, about 3 minutes more.

Assemble the cake: Place one cake layer on a cake stand and spread 3 cups meringue over cake; sprinkle with ¼ cup coconut. Repeat with second layer. Place remaining layer on top; cover top and sides with remaining meringue and cover outside of cake with remaining coconut, pressing lightly to adhere. Chill cake 30 minutes to firm meringue; serve chilled or at room temperature.

copied from Saveur 
Coconut Cake

Cappuccino Chocolate Cake

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Some things get better with time: wine, cheese, beards…this cake.  I made it on Sunday afternoon and we had a piece and it was extremely good, but we wrapped it up and let it sit in the fridge for a few days and THEN it was something to behold.  The layers meld into one another after a couple days in the fridge.  The whipped cream softens the layers of chocolate cake and it transforms into a Swiss Cake Roll/Tirimisu kinda thing and it’s amazing.  Good news: it’s a really great cake if you eat it instantly.  Greater news: it only gets better from there.

The recipe comes from Fran Bigelow’s wonderful book, Pure Chocolate.  I learned how to make truffles from this book with much sweat, tears and good results.  Fran is the expert when it comes to chocolate and none of her recipes have steered me wrong.  Her truffles and chocolate tempering require huge amounts of patience.  They simply can’t be rushed.  And when I have about 2 days, I want to try her recipe for dark chocolate brandied apricot torte.  But I didn’t have that much time and saw that this cake took only a couple hours. It delivered rich chocolate and creamy coffee flavors and honestly, what is better than that combination?  This is the perfect party cake or good to have in your fridge (since it lasts all week) to whip out with a cup of coffee when a friend stops by.  Given that friends still stop by in your neck of the woods.  Oh, to live in Mayberry…

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Cappuccino Chocolate Cake
serves 10-12

6 ounces bittersweet chocolate (70% is preferable), finely chopped
6 large eggs, separated
1/2 cup plus 1 tbs sugar
3 tablespoons brewed cooled espresso
Cappuccino Whipped Cream (recipe below)
dark cocoa powder for dusting

With a rack positioned in the middle of the oven, preheat to 325F.

Lightly butter a 9×13″ or quarter sheet pan and line with parchment paper.  Lightly butter the parchment paper.

In a glass bowl set over a sauce pan of barely simmering water (I prefer this to a double boiler, as my DB always heats too quickly and scorches the chocolate = sad Alisa) and melt the chocolate.  Remove when nearly melted and continue stirring until smooth.  Set aside.

In a mixer fitted with the whisk attachment or using a hand mixer, combine the egg yolks and half the sugar and whip on medium high speed.  Once combined, scrape the sides of the bowl and increase the speed to high.  Continue whipping until the mixture becomes thick, pale yellow in color, and the sugar has dissolved, 5 to 6 minutes.

Clean the whisk and in another clean bowl, begin whipping the egg whites on medium high speed, increasing the speed until frothy.  Slowly add the remaining sugar and continue whipping until the peaks are stiff but not dry.

Pour the cooled coffee into the melted chocolate all at once and quickly stir together to prevent seizing.  If it does thicken and start to separate, don’t worry.  Constant stirring will make it smooth and creamy.

Lighten the chocolate mixture by folding in one-third of the yolks.  Then add the lightened chocolate mixture to the remaining yolks and gently fold.  The mixture will become light and airy with large air bubbles where some traces of yolk remain.  That’s okay and kind of pretty, anyway.

Lighten the yolk mixture by quickly folding in one-quarter of the whites, then gently fold in the remaining whites in 3 parts, trying not to over mix and lose the volume.

Pour the glossy dark chocolate batter into the prepared pan, smoothing the top.  The pan will be more than three-quarters full.  Bake for 20-25 minutes, until the top is slightly domed in the center and dry to the touch.  A tester inserted will come out dry and clean with a few crumbs.  Let cool in the pan at room temp.  The layer will pull away from the sides of the pan as it cools.

Have ready the Cappuccino Whipped Cream filling in the fridge.  Remove the cooled cake by running a thin bladed knife around the edges of the pan.  Place the bottom of the baking sheet lined with parchment over the cake and invert.  Peel the parchment paper off.

Using a ruler and the tip of a paring knife, mark the cake into 3 equal sections across the width.  Cut the cake with a serrated blade to make 3 layers about 4 inches wide each.

Place one chilled cake layer on a serving plate.  With a metal spatula, spread one third of the filling over the layer, generously overlapping the edges.  Repeat with second layer and a layer of filling. (The layers should be equal in height to each other.)  Top with the last chilled cake layer.  Be careful not to overwork the cream and frost the top and sides.  Refrigerate at least 4 to 6 hours to set the cake an meld the flavors.  Before serving, dust with cocoa powder.  Can be stored in the fridge for up to 2 days (or a week, if you’re us)

Variation: to make this child-friendly(er): just omit the espresso from the whipped cream.

Cappuccino Whipped Cream
makes 3 1/2 cups

1/4 cup plus 2 tbs sugar
3 tbs brewed espresso
2 cups heavy cream, chilled

In a stand mixer fit with the whisk attachment, whisk together the sugar and coffee until frothy.  The sugar will begin to dissolve.  Add the cream and whisk until thoroughly combined and soft peaks form.  Take care not to over whip the cream as it may begin to lose its creamy texture.  Store in the fridge till ready to use.

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