Sunday, August 25, 2013

Creme Fraiche Coffee Cake

The "cake" in the word coffeecake can be a misnomer.  There are some coffeecakes that are made with yeast so they turn out to be more of a bread than a cake.  I like both, but I still favor the cake type.

While skimming through recipes, I came to a halt at this one.  The main point that attracted me was that this recipe included creme fraiche.  Having never made anything with that ingredient, I started wondering what impact this ingredient would have on the flavor and texture.

While the creme fraiche is a great component, the careful balance of the selected spices in the streusel does play an important role as well. The end result is a moist cake that stands between the tight crumb of a pound cake and the lightness of a regular cake.  The coffeecake has a mellow flavor of butter and vanilla that overlaps a crunchy pecan and cinnamon streusel.

The batter is placed in the pan first and the streusel is layered on top. In the baking process, the streusel sinks but leaves some brown sugar behind. The brown sugar bakes into a toasty sweet coating that covers the surface of the cake. This recipe makes one 10 round cake and uses a tube cake pan.

Creme Fraiche Coffee Cake
adapted from Flour by Joanne Chang

1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/8 tsp ground cloves
3 tbs packed light brown sugar
1/3 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup chopped toasted pecans
3 tbs cake flour
2 tbs butter

3 eggs
1 egg yolk
2 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup creme fraiche
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 tsp baking powder
2 tsp baking soda
2 1/2 cups cake flour
1 cup and 2 tbs butter (cubed at room temp)

Prepare a 10 inch tube pan with a removable insert by buttering the interior and dusting with flour.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Blending of the streusel can be done with a food processor by pulsing or by using a pasty cutter by hand.  Place all the streusel ingredients in a bowl and blend by either method. The result will be a mixture that is crumbly in texture.  Set aside.

For the cake, sift together the flour, baking soda, salt and baking powder.  Then stir in the granulated sugar.  Pour into the bowl of a stand mixer.  Run the mixer on low and drop in cubes of butter at 30 second intervals.  The mixture will come together as a coarse meal or as a dough after about 3-4 minutes of beating.  The variation is based upon the temperature of the butter and either texture is acceptable.

In a separate bowl, mix the wet ingredients together ( eggs, egg yolk, creme fraiche and vanilla extract) until completely blended.  Add half of this batter to the flour/butter blend and mix on low speed.  Then turn the speed up to medium and beat for 1 1/2 minutes, scraping down sides at two intervals of mixing.  The texture of the batter will become more fluffy and the color much lighter.

Turn the mixer back to low and pour in the rest of the egg/ creme fraiche mixture. Beat for 30 seconds, stopping to scrape down sides a few times.   Scoop out 1 1/2 cups of the batter and fold it into the streusel.

First fill the tube pan with the non streusel batter.  Smooth the top and then layer the streusel batter on top, smoothing to an even layer.  Place pan in oven and bake until cake gets golden in color and springs back when you touch the top.  Cake should be done in about 1 hour and 10 minutes.   Remove and let cake cool in pan for 3 hours.  Then invert cake onto a plate and invert again.  Slice and serve.

Tips and Notes:
1.  My cake sunk in the middle, extra precaution must be made when smoothing on top layer making sure it is even.  The addition of the batter to the streusel prior to layering is supposed to keep this from happening.
2. Even though the streusel sunk to the very bottom of the cake, it did not cause any sticking to the pan.
3.   Do not let the pan size fool you, the cake does not rise as high as the pan.  The cake should range from 3 1/2 to 4 1/2 inches in height.
                                   **LAST YEAR: Banana Whipped Cream Pie**