25 April 2010

Hazelnut Coffee Cake

I am finally getting back into my food-blogging groove after two weeks of "life" has gotten in the way.  It feels so good to be back, checking in with all my new blog buddies around the globe - an incredible collection of kind, funny, food-focused people like me.  These are the people I am looking forward to meeting in person and getting to know better when I head to London in early June for my very first Food Blogger Connect conference.

This weekend has not been ideal, I will admit.  After pouring my heart and soul into a very emotional post on Friday night (it will be posted on Tuesday if you'd like to read it), I finally crawled into bed at 2 am with puffy, red eyes and curled up beside my poor, sick hubby who is in anguish with a horrible cold.  Saturday was spent running around, taking Riley the goofball mutt to make an appearance at the adopt-a-thon where we met and adopted him last year.  Being a doggy event, Molly came along too.  It wasn't exactly a relaxing afternoon, let's just put it that way.  This morning, I woke to find my darling husband, still congested and achey, had been up before me cleaning up and looking after two sick dogs.  I feel really, really bad about this one, since it was my spoiling them that got them in this state.  You see, beef suet appears to have no smell to you or I, but it certainly smells delicious to dogs - they were absolutely nutty, pacing and whining at the counter where it sat.  I finally gave in and smeared a tablespoon or so into two hollow bones to keep them occupied while I baked and blogged.  This was enough of a change in diet for them, that I'm living in regret ever since.  Add in the fact that it's chilly and grey again this morning, instead of sunny and warm as I had hoped.  There you have it, a less-than-ideal weekend.  Nonetheless, I'm still making the most of it.

What we needed was some comfort food!  I still had some buttermilk in the fridge that needed a purpose, so I set about making a coffee cake.  This one is one of hubby's favourites - and he is definitely deserving of a favourite treat today.  The boy who grew up in a house where desserts were uncommon, loves this coffee cake so much, he has often requested it as his birthday cake.  For him, I normally make it with apples & cinnamon, but this morning I chose to leave those out and make it more hazelnutty instead.  I toasted & chopped up some hazelnuts for the topping, threw in a pinch of cardamom and the special sucre de noisette I picked up on my last visit to Paris and put it in the oven.  As I write this, the nutty, spicy, sweet smell is perfuming the entire house, making for a long and difficult wait until it cools enough to unmold.

So, if on a Sunday morning, you would like to make a sweet treat for someone who is under the weather and deserves edible comfort, this is a great choice.  Now I'm off to set up the backgammon board so we can have a game and enjoy some warm coffee cake.

Happy Sunday everyone!

PS - aside from the obvious "because you serve it with coffee" answer, does anyone know why it is called Coffee Cake?  There's never any coffee in it.

Hazelnut Coffeecake
(adapted from Cook's Illustrated)

1 Tbsp dry breadcrumbs
2 cups (284g) all-purpose flour
1 cup plus 2 Tbsp (231g) granulated sugar
1 tsp salt
10 Tbsp (142g) butter, at room temperature
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
3/4 cup (180ml) buttermilk, at room temperature
1 large egg, at room temperature
1tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup (85g) hazelnuts, toasted & chopped fine
1/2 cup (100g) dark brown sugar
1 tbsp sucre de noisette (if you have some)
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground cardamom

Preheat oven to 350˚F and adjust rack to centre of oven.
Generously butter the bottoms & sides of a 10-inch springform pan.  Sprinkle the bottom of the pan with the breadcrumbs, then shake lightly to coat.  Tap out excess crumbs
In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar & salt until blended.  Add the butter and cut in with the whisk until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.  Remove 1 cup of the flour mixture to a separate, medium-sized bowl and set aside.
To the large bowl of flour mixture, add the buttermilk, egg and vanilla and whisk vigorously until the batter is thick, smooth and fluffy - about 1 1/2 to 2 minutes (unless you've got arms of steel, I recommend using the stand mixer for this part).
Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top.
Add the nuts, brown sugar, sucre de noisette and cinnamon to the reserved crumbs of flour, butter and sugar.  Toss with a fork or your hands until well blended.  Sprinkle the crumbs over the batter and press lightly so that they adhere.  Bake the cake until the centre is firm and a toothpick or bamboo skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean - about 50-55 minutes.
Let the cake cool completely (about 2 hours) before serving.  When the cake is completely cool, it can be slid off the pan onto a serving plate.


Cathy x. said...

your cake looks tasty :P how is it with breadcrumbs? does it affect the texture much?

to answer your question, the 'kaffeehaus' tradition began over 300 years ago with the old austro-hungarian empire. it involved a lavish procedure, gleaming china cups and metal trays, and a ridiculous choice of layer cakes, pastries and torten! desserts were often named after influential people of the times eg. malakoff, sacher, dobos, linz, maria theresia. there are famous old-world coffee houses in vienna that still serve traditional coffee cakes, but nowadays it is considered to be basically anything that you would have with coffee.

Leave-Room-for-Dessert said...

Hi Cathy!

To be honest, I'm not sure why they recommend bread crumbs instead of just regular flour, but you don't notice them at all. Doesn't seem to effect the texture in any way.

Hope that helps!

Cathy x. said...

thanks! :)

Jessiker said...

Your blog layout is so lovely! I saw you on daring bakers (I just got accepted this morning for my first challenge). Even if you didn't make it, great choice! Also, your coffee cake looks delicious!