A Little Cake with Big Talking Points

So here it is:

A single-layer buttermilk coffee cake.

A cake you can throw together using pantry staples and about 10 minutes of active prep time, and have a slice on your plate within the hour. A cake that’s easier and quicker to put together than a batch of cookies. 

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Doesn’t it just sound…well, a bit boring?

Truly, it’s anything but.

Because this isn’t just a cake. 

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This is a light, tender, vanilla-scented cake, studded with bits of your favourite fresh fruit, all nestled under a sweet, crunchy, golden crust. One layer; three distinct components. Additional embellishment unnecessary and unwanted.  

A cake that rises so substantially as it bakes that it envelops the fruit, turning its location into a sweet discovery to be made with each bite. A cake whose surface sparkles.

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A cake that doesn’t require a special occasion to make, but that will certainly make any occasion more special. That won’t overwhelm you with its size, or make you feel like you’ve overindulged. 

A cake that reminds you that sometimes, simple is best.  

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A cake that’s 100% Scooter-approved. 

And when it comes down to it, surely that reason above any - sorry for this - takes the cake


Buttermilk Coffee Cake
Adapted from Gourmet

Ingredients
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
2/3 cup white sugar
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 large egg
1/2 cup well-shaken buttermilk*
1 cup fresh fruit**

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Butter and flour an 8- or 9-inch cake pan (the cake rises a lot, so go all the way up to the edges of your pan). Line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper (see the directions at the end of the post!) and lightly butter the parchment paper.Step_1.jpg

2. In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside. In a large bowl, beat butter and 2/3 cup sugar with an electric mixer*** on medium-high speed for about 2 minutes, or until butter and sugar are light and fluffy. Add vanilla and beat to incorporate. Add egg and beat to incorporate. 
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3. With the mixer on low, incorporate one third of dry ingredients into the butter mixture, then half of the buttermilk, another third of the dry ingredients, the remaining buttermilk, then the remaining dry ingredients. Mix just until the last batch of your dry ingredients is incorporated. (Note that I’ve left one round of dry ingredients and buttermilk out of the photos.) 
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4. Using a spoon or spatula, spread batter evenly in your prepared pan (it’ll be quite thick). Distribute fruit evenly over batter and press into batter slightly. Sprinkle remaining 1.5 tbsp of sugar evenly over cake. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the centre of the cake comes out clean (it should be moist, but not covered in sticky batter). 
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5. Cool cake in the pan on a rack for 10 minutes. Use a knife to loosen the edges of the cake from a pan, then remove cake from the pan and allow to cool for 10-15 minutes more. 

*No buttermilk? Put 1/2 tbsp of white vinegar or lemon juice in your measuring cup, then add enough regular milk to reach the 1/2 cup line. Stir and let sit for five minutes or unitl milk has become buttermilk-y. 

**The original recipe recommends using raspberries or other berries, but any slightly tart fruit should work. I used a peeled and thinly-sliced Granny Smith apple (next time, I’ll dice it - bite-sized pieces are more fork-friendly). I’ve also made a version - our favourite thus far - using a cup of frozen pitted sour cherries, and almond extract in place of the vanilla. Have fun with it! And if you want fruit in each bite, bump up the quantity to a heaping cup. 

***You can also use a stand mixer, but I’ve found that a hand-held mixer works better. Because the volume of butter and sugar is so small, our Kitchenaid paddle didn’t have enough to grab onto to properly whip air into the mixture. But maybe it’ll work better for you! 

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How to cut parchment paper to fit a cake pan:  
1. Cut a sheet of parchment paper large enough to cover the bottom of the pan.
2. Fold parchment it in half width-wise.
3. Fold parchment in half, length-wise. 
4. Fold the horizontal edge over the vertical edge to make a triangle. Parchment_1_high.jpg

5. Repeat Step 4 to make a triangle half-the width of your original triangle.
6. With your pan upside down, line the tip your your triangle up with the centre of the pan and grab yourself a pair of scissors.
7. Cut off any parchment that hangs over the edge of the pan. 
8. Unfold your triangle and - ta da! - you’ve got a parchment circle that’ll fit perfectly inside your pan. Nice work! (Don’t forget to toss the leftover bits of parchment in the recycle!)  Parchment_2_high.jpg

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