I delight in this cake for two reasons.
Firstly, it’s got this ridiculous cinnamon sugar crumble magic on top, and it was the hardest thing (well, not as hard as if I were to make brownies), to stop picking at the stuff. Secondly, the flavour eagerly showcases the use of sour cream, which I love, so it’s not too mild and airy-fairy like a typical sponge cake. It’s a slightly denser cake than normal, and goes wonderfully with even more sour cream or vanilla ice cream, perhaps topped with a dash of cinnamon and in this case, a good drizzle of manuka honey.
I adapted this recipe from Entertaining with Beth which can be found here. Made quite a few alterations because my first experiment with it yielded too dense a final result, the crumb not as tender as I hoped for. Cinnamon is the vice of Man. The earthy sweetness rounds off many other traditional flavour notes. I added a little brown sugar to the cake mix because the slight tinge of molasses goes well with the cinnamon filling in between the two layers, and changed the cinnamon filling and crumb topping recipe completely because the melted butter used in the original recipe just didn’t work as a nice streusel topping in this temple-banging, sun-raging weather. Curse this humidity.
What I like best is how you don’t have to make two separate layers before getting down to some sandwich business- what’s one to do with just one 9-inch pan? We make easy for the world. Saving on some dishwashing liquid too, actually. Moving on.
Cinnamon Sour Cream Coffee Cake
For the cake:
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
115g salted butter at room temperature (unsalted is fine, just add more salt later)
2 room temperature eggs
half cup white sugar, half cup light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 cups sour cream (you may substitute this with Greek yoghurt, not anything low-fat or plain)
1 1/2 tablespoons vanilla extract
For the cinnamon filling and crumb topping:
1/3 cup packed dark brown sugar (this has a high molasses content and will thus yield a more earthy, sultry flavour, but light will work fine. You might have to add an extra tablespoon or so, though)
1/2 cup plain flour
3 teaspoons ground cinnamon (yum)
1/2 teaspoon fine salt
57g (4 tablespoons) cold, unsalted butter, cut into one-inch pieces. Stick this in the fridge right before use.
optional– chopped pecans/walnuts/almonds
You ready? I am. So. Dead. Easy.
Firstly, get all the dry stuff together. Then preheat your oven to 176 degrees C, or 350 degrees F, with the rack in the middle.
In a big bowl, cream together, either using an electric mix or your good old biceps and a sturdy whisk, the butter, two sugars and vanilla extract. Crack in the eggs one by one, whisking after each addition.
In another smaller bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Fold the sour cream into your sugar-butter mixture (I almost said complex) halfway, then add the flour mixture. I switched to using a wooden spoon at this point. The resulting batter should be sticky, smooth pale yellow, with a thick dropping consistency. If it’s too thick, add 1-2 tablespoons whole milk, but careful as this might alter the final taste of your cake. Whatever you do, don’t overmix!
How easy was that? Grab and throw. Done and dusted.
Now for the lovely crumble. Mix together the flour, sugar and cinnamon, then get in there with your hands and rub in the cold butter. Slightly larger-than-normal clumps are ok. If you wish, add more or less cinnamon, and play around with chopped nuts. If you do so, chop them up finely so as to keep the traditional texture of a streusel.
Spray a 9-inch cheesecake pan with a removable bottom tin with cooking spray. Don’t overdo it or else you’ll risk making the bottom unnecessarily greasy. Turn out half the batter into the tin, then sprinkle half the cinnamon streusel on top. Turn out the remaining batter and sprinkle on the rest.
Bake the mixture in your preheated oven for 55 minutes, after which if you insert a wooden skewer it should emerge clean, with a few dry crumbs sticking to it. Remove the bottom tin and place on cake stand, and if you want to be all fancy, sprinkle on some icing sugar. Don’t be afraid of excess and lather on the sour cream and honey on a warm slice.