Cinnamon Walnut Streusel Coffee Cake

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I’ve been teaching cooking classes out of my home for about three years now.  A few years back I did a brunch class which included a recipe for coffee cake.  I am a sucker for all kinds of sweets, but when they have a moist cakey interior topped with a crunchy brown sugar cinnamon walnut streusel, I really can’t help myself.

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So I’m demonstrating the recipe and about to pop the coffee cake into the oven, when someone says “but you forgot the coffee”.  What?

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I didn’t realize that coffee cake doesn’t quite translate to the UK.  What the Americans define as a cake to be accompanied with coffee, typically eaten for breakfast (ok, maybe not the official Webster definition, but that’s how I see it), the Brits thought it was literally a cake made with coffee.  We all got chuckle out of that one.

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Definitions aside, here is one of my favorite recipes for coffee cake.  It’s not the one I taught at the class – that one is a huge, layered ordeal that feeds an army.  I find myself making the recipe below more often as it’s less time-consuming and makes a smaller amount – for our family of four we can get two breakfasts out of it.  Served up with coffee, of course.

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1 year ago: Baked Macaroni and Cheese

Cinnamon Walnut Streusel Coffee Cake (serves 8-10)

Note:  The batter is quite thick, and does require a bit of muscle to whisk it all together.  If you prefer you can make it with an electric mixer.

2 cups (250 grams) plain, all-purpose flour

2 cups (400 grams) granulated sugar

1 teaspoon salt

10 tablespoons (140 grams) unsalted butter, softened and cut into cubes

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

3/4 cup (180 ml) buttermilk (or low-fat plain yogurt)

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla

3/4 cup (85 grams) finely chopped walnuts or pecans

1/2 cup (100 grams) packed dark brown sugar

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon


Preheat oven 350º F (175º C).  Grease the bottom and sides of a 10-inch/25 cm springform pan (if you don’t have a springform pan, then a round cake pan will do, but just grease it very well and flour it too).

Whisk flour, sugar and salt in a large mixing bowl until blended.  Add butter and cut with a whisk until mixture resembles coarse crumbs, using a butter knife to remove clumped butter from the whisk.  Remove 1 cup (150 grams) crumbs to separate medium-sized bowl.

Whisk baking powder and soda into mixture remaining in large mixing bowl.  Add buttermilk, egg and vanilla; whisk vigorously until batter is thick, smooth, fluffy and frosting-like, 1-2 minutes.  Using a rubber spatula, scrape batter into prepared pan and smooth top.

Add nuts, brown sugar and cinnamon to reserved crumbs in the medium-sized bowl, toss with a fork or your hands until blended.  Sprinkle crumbs over batter, pressing lightly so that mixture adheres.  Bake cake until center is firm and cake tester comes out clean, 50-55 minutes.  Transfer cake to rack; remove pan sides.  Let cake cool completely, about 2 hours, before serving.  When completely cooled, cake can be slid off pan bottom onto serving plate. (Note: The texture firms up a bit as it cools, so it is best to cool completely….however if you don’t have two hours to spare and it’s still warm and you can’t stop yourself I can vouch that your coffee cake will still be ok and taste delicious).

Adapted from Cooks Illustrated

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2 Comments

Filed under Breakfast and Brunch

2 responses to “Cinnamon Walnut Streusel Coffee Cake

  1. Katie, the coffee cake sounds wonderful. It really makes for a great breakfast for company or just eating something sweet for yourself. Serving it with a good cup of coffee is to die for ! Send the whole cake to me and it will be devoured in a few minutes. Love, Cheryl

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