cinnamon swirl coffee cake; a comedy of errors

just about every sunday morning, i head out to the demonstration and research garden to work with my fellow master gardeners.  it may sound like a bad way to spend a sunday morning but it is actually a lot of fun when a group of us get together for the purpose of tending the many beds.  yes it is social, but we also have the opportunity to learn about all things “garden.”

did i mention the cake?  it is hard to get volunteers to crawl out of bed early on a sunday morning so i have taken to bribing them with homemade cake.  every saturday evening, i bake a cake to take out there on sunday morning.  on the rare occasion that my husband can join me due to his insane work schedule, i let him choose the flavor; he chose chocolate chips this time.

one of my favorite types of coffee cake is a classic crumb cake.  tons of cinnamon scented streusel on top of a dense vanilla cake dusted with a barrel of powdered sugar.  mmmmmmm…add some chocolate chips and a cinnamon nut swirl and you just hit that one over the fence!  when i want a coffee cake like that, i reach for my worn out copy of the cake bible by rose levy beranbaum and i turn to her sour cream coffee cake recipe.

so, here i was in my kitchen on a saturday evening preparing to bake the coffee cake for my trip to the garden sunday morning.  how hard could that be?  oven set to 350 for preheating.  the food processor came out to make the crumb topping.  then i began to measure the ingredients for the topping and the ribbon since they are prepared first.  light brown sugar(bag of dark is open, i grab that instead), sugar, pecans, cinnamon, cake flour,  CAKE FLOUR!!!  uh oh, no cake flour; out came the all purpose and the corn starch to make a quick substitute.

next up, the butter for the topping and the cake, egg yolks, wait; let’s make that 2 whole eggs rather than 4 yolks-i don’t want left over whites.  back to it; sour cream-hmmm, it shouldn’t be neon pink now should it?  no problem, i’ve got buttermilk.  moving right along, vanilla, cake flour(or should i say pretend cake flour), sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and let’s not forget those chocolate chips!!!

needless to say, it pays to stock the larder and to check it for the ingredients before you get started.  but despite the missing ingredients, the cake came out fantastic and for a change, the squirrels did not get a single crumb!!!

sour cream comedy cake with chocolate chips
1 (8) cup tube pan, serves 8-10
adapted from rose levy beranbaum’s sour cream coffee cake recipe in the cake bible, 1988, william morrow and company.  
1/3 cup dark brown sugar, packed
2 tablespoons sugar
1 cup pecan pieces
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 cup cake flour (or 1/3 cup all purpose flour and 1 tablespoon cornstarch)
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
place the sugars, pecans and cinnamon into the bowl of the food processor and pulse to coarsely chop the pecans.  measure out 3/4 cup and set it aside.  add the flour and butter and pulse it to form small pea sized lumps of topping.  set this aside and prepare the cake batter.
cake batter
2 whole eggs
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups cake flour (or 1 1/2 cup all purpose flour and 1/4 cup cornstarch)
1 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
12 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces and slightly softened
1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
preheat the oven to 350.  grease and flour an 8 cup tube pan and set aside.  whisk the eggs with 2 tablespoons of the buttermilk and the vanilla.  in the mixing bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder and soda and the salt and mix to combine.  add the butter and the remaining 6 tablespoons of buttermilk.  on low speed, mix until the ingredients come together.  turn the speed to medium and allow it to cream for several minutes until it is light and almost fluffy.  add the egg mixture in several additions, scrape the bowl after each addition and mix until combined.  add half of the chocolate chips and stir them in by hand.  pour about 2/3 of the batter into the prepared pan and spread it out evenly.   sprinkle the chocolate chips and the cinnamon/nut mixture evenly over the batter.  carefully drop the remaining batter over the topping in small dollops and then spread them out to form a thin layer.  sprinkle the crumb mixture over the top of the cake and bake until a pick inserted comes out clean, about an hour.  allow the cake to cool in the pan for at least 20 minutes.  carefully turn the cake out and then invert it onto a rack to cool.  serve as is or with a dusting of powdered sugar.  
and if you are interested in that garden i mentioned, see it here

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