Friday, February 28, 2014

Me gusta café, me gusta té, pero Maria, pero Maria, pero Maria, me gusta más



Let me pour you a cup of coffee songs; one and two, to have with the coffee cake.

Dear Mornings,

Here is something to accompany coffee, and morning; but it isn't necessary to have coffee cake in the morning, or even with coffee.  Coffee cake is for anytime, anywhere.  I will give a recipe adapted from a nice book by Melissa Gray, entitled All Cakes Considered.  Ms. Gray is a producer for NPR's program All Things Considered.  Ms. Gray tells her baking readers this cake is a recipe from the Barefoot Contessa, aka Ina Garten.  Many of you will know the tear-jerking tragic film of the same name- I understand that Ina Garten took on the name when she bought a shop that sold foodstuffs called The Barefoot Contessa.  I can only recommend the movie if you feel like a star-crossed lovers' tale, but Ina Garten's recipes are excellent no matter your mood.

I have made a few changes from the recipe as given in my book-  Principally, an increase in the quantity of streusel.  But you know, you could increase it even more, because there is little finer than these crumbly shortbread bits.  If you keep on increasing, and at the same time, decreasing the coffee cake batter to nil;  add almonds, part of an egg, and you will soon have a torta sbrisolona; an Italian oversized cookie type cake, which has its origins in the middle ages.  Here is a very authentic ricetta, and here is one in English. 

Or, you may invent it yourself, like my son did, and give it your own name;  My son calls his Streusel Cake:  Press half of it down into a pan, and sprinkle the rest on top.  Streusel, Ms. Gray reports,
means "something scattered or sprinkled" in German.

Oh, and once you have the cake baking, why not begin roasting your own coffee?  My husband has been roasting it himself for a decade!  He roasted the first beans in a cast iron pan, on our stovetop:  Now he uses a camp stove and a use-blackened popcorn pan.  It smells good roasting, too.  Try it yourself, by following the steps outlined at Sweet Maria's, suppliers of all home roasting and brewing needs, including their impeccably sourced beans.

The Barefoot Contessa's Sour Cream Coffee Cake

3/4 cup butter
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 eggs
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 1/4 cups sour cream, or yogurt or even heavy cream

2 1/2 cups flour
2 tsps. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Butter and flour a ten inch tube pan.

 Make the streusel:  combine in a bowl until large clumps form:

1/3 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup flour
2 tsps. cinnamon
5 tablespoons butter

Add, if desired:
3/4 cup chopped walnuts

Begin the cake batter:  Cream the butter and sugar together until light.  Add eggs one at a time.  Add sour cream and vanilla.  Whisk the flour, baking powder, soda and salt together in a separate bowl, then combine them with the first 5 ingredients.

Put about half the batter into the tube pan, then sprinkle half of the streusel over it- top it with the rest of the batter.  Shove it around with a spatula until it is pretty level, and sprinkle the rest of the streusel over it. 

Bake it for around 50 to 60 minutes.  Check, though, with a skewer to see that it is fully baked in the center.

Let it cool for half an hour or more, and then, if you like, let it cool a little more and apply a simple glaze of powdered sugar and maple syrup.  Use 1/2 cup of powdered sugar and 2 tbs. of maple syrup.