Thanks to post WWII advertising campaigns by the American Coffee Bureau, by 1950, America was a country of coffee drinkers. In the workplace, the 15-minute coffee break was born, and, if you were a housewife, once you got your husband off to work and the kids off to school, you likely participated in a daily, weekly or occasional mid-morning "coffee klatch" with neighborhood friends. The term "coffee klatch" comes from the German word "kaffeeklatsch", meaning "coffee chat" -- a casual gathering for sharing coffee and conversation with close confidants. Literally translated: kaffee = coffee, and, klatsch = gossip. I like to think of this social activity as kitchen therapy, and, in today's super-busy world, almost nothing sounds more relaxing than a neighborly invitation for coffee and cake: I'm feelin' the love.
I grew up in the Lehigh Valley region of Eastern Pennsylvania. Because of the large Pennsylvania Dutch influence in this area, I am no stranger to coffeecake. Everybody bakes them, eats them and loves them. There are many versions, but in this locale, almost all coffeecakes are rich buttercakes topped with a streusel of some sort. The term "Dutch" is slang for the German word "Deutsch", so, when we say Pennsylvania Dutch, we mean Deutsch and are crediting the German people for their delicious recipes.
Besides eating a lot of homemade coffeecakes, I also grew up during the heyday of the Drake's empire. Drake's (now owned by Hostess Brands) has been providing the Northeastern United States with snack-sized coffeecakes for over a century. In New Jersey and Pennsylvania, they compete head-to-head with Tastykake. Back in my elementary school days, my lunch box usually contained one of my two favorite desserts: a small, round Drake's coffeecake, or, a rectangular, snack-sized, lemon pudding-filled Tastykake pie.
A bit about coffeecake: Coffeecakes are rich, sweet, cake-like breads which are usually eaten for breakfast or brunch. While they are rich with butter and eggs, they are considerably less sweet than a standard cake, which is why they are perfect fare for breakfast or brunch. Some are made with yeast, but those made with baking soda and/or baking powder, which take less time to prepare and fall into the category of "quick" coffeecakes, are just as delicious. The batter is often made with with buttermilk, cream cheese, sour cream or yogurt, which adds a lovely tang. They often contain fresh or dried fruit or berries, jam, preserves, and, sometimes nuts, which adds even more delicious taste and texture. They can be served unembellished or with a dusting of confectioners' sugar, a glaze, a frosting, or a crumb or streusel topping. They can be round, square or rectangular, thick or thin, and, eaten at room temperature or slightly warm.
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
3/4 cup firmly-packed dark brown sugar
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons each: baking powder and baking soda
3/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 1/2 cups sugar
3/4 cup salted butter, softened
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3 large eggs
1 1/2 cups sour cream
1 1/2 cups Confectioners' sugar
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
3-4 tablespoons milk
In a small bowl, stir the sugar, extract and 3 tablespoons of milk. Add more milk until a smooth, drizzly consistency is reached, cover with plastic wrap and set aside while preparing coffeecake.
Add the brown sugar and cloves. Stir to coat the nuts in the spices. Do this prior to adding brown sugar.
Add the brown sugar and stir to combine. Set aside and prepare the cake batter as directed below.
~Step 2. Prepare the cake batter. In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside. In a large mixing bowl, over medium-high speed of hand-held electric mixer, beat the sugar, butter, eggs and vanilla extract together for a full two minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl occasionally. On low mixer speed, in three increments, add the flour mixture alternately with the sour cream, beating well after each addition.
~Step 3. Layering the batter and the filling in the cake pan. Spray the inside of a 10" angel-food-type 10" tube pan with no-stick cooking spray. Spoon about 2 cups of the batter into the bottom of pan and spread it around as evenly as you can. Sprinkle 1/2 cup of the filling mixture over top of batter. Repeat this process (2 cups batter, 1/2 cup filling, 2 cups batter, 1/2 cup filling) two more times, ending with a topping of filling. Give the pan a few gentle shakes back and forth on the surface of the counter to even batter out a bit.
Remove coffeecake from the oven and place it on a cooling rack to cool, in the pan, for 20 minutes.
Remove the cake from the pan by using the center tube as a handle to gently pull it up and out. Cool the coffeecake, on the bottom tube part of the pan, another 1-1 1/2 hours, prior to removing cake from the bottom tube part.
Cool cake on tube,1-1 1/2 hours, prior to removing from tube:
Special Equipment List: spoon; hand-held electric mixer; large rubber spatula; 10" angel-food-type tube pan; wire cooling rack; spoon or pastry bag (I use a pastry bag)
Cook's Note: Some people add berries or fruit to their coffeecake, while others prefer the rich taste of chocolate with their java. My recipe for ~ Coffeecake: Cinnamon-Orange, Chocolate-Chip, Pecan-Streusel ~ can be found in Categories 6 or 9.
"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti
(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2016)