Sour Cream Coffee Cake

Coffee Cake 4One of the best and weirdest parts about working in media is the sheer number of perfect strangers who line up to give you stuff for free.

Case in point: This spring, for reasons I still don’t totally understand, I was invited to a party celebrating the various different types of flours manufactured by Bob’s Red Mill. (Seriously, the invite was a total mystery; I hadn’t even started my incredibly well-trafficked food blog yet.)

Because I figured (rightly) that such a party would involve not only the standard open bar but also a variety of professionally made baked goods, I jumped at the chance to attend.

Coffee Cake 8

All in all, the bread party was a smashing success: I ate enough carbs to make an actress weep, schmoozed with Bob (I, too, was shocked to find out that he’s a real guy), and spent way too long discussing the bizarre nature of sourdough bread, a pastime I’d only just begun to wade into. (But that’s a story for another day.)

And then, a week or so later, I came home to discover that Bob’s had sent me 28 pounds of flour — full-sized bags of every variety we’d sampled at the party.

Too much flour

Which is a roundabout way of saying that I’m no longer intimidated by recipes that call for cake flour — which is a good thing, as a lot of Nonnie’s desserts do. Having not made this coffee cake twice — once with all-purpose flour, once with cake — I can’t really speak to how it turns out with one vs. the other. I can, however, say that the cake flour version is pretty damn good.

Sour Cream Coffee Cake; main text Nonnie’s, italicized asides my own

1 cup sugar
1/4 lb butter [a.k.a. one standard stick, for those of you who aren’t up on your butter weight]
2 eggs
1 cup sour cream [go full fat. You’re making a cake, not a salad]
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups cake flour, sifted [Nonnie notes in a handwritten addendum that you could also use 1.5 cups of all purpose, if you, unlike me, haven’t been gifted an absurd amount of gratis flour]
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder [Why use both powder and soda? I’ll tell you… or, rather, direct you to someone who can]
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup sugar [Yes, I know sugar was already listed; no, this isn’t a typo. The recipe itself reveals all!]
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1 teaspoon cinnamon [or, as Nonnie charmingly wrote it, “cinammon”]

Coffee Cake 10

Mix last three ingredients together in a small bowl and set aside. Cream sugar and butter together until fluffy. [Do you, like me, leave your butter in the freezer, because you don’t exactly use it as often as the women of the ’60s did? Leave it out on the counter for an hour or two if you can; it’ll be a lot easier to get it to be the right consistency than microwaving.]

Coffee Cake 6

Add eggs, sour cream, and vanilla. Sift flour, salt, baking powder, and soda together and add to butter mixture. Beat until smooth. Pour into greased 9″x9″ cake pan. Sprinkle sugar-nut mixture on top. Bake in 350 oven for 40 minutes.

Coffee Cake 1

The verdict: A nice, delicate crumb; a pretty yellow interior; a sturdy, nicely browned crust, which we can probably attribute to the baking powder/soda combo. It’s certainly sweet, but not nearly as sweet as I thought it’d be, given the massive amount of sugar it’s slathered with — though that might be because a good amount of the sweet stuff slid off when I was transporting the cake from my kitchen to its final destination (someone else’s kitchen).

Which brings me to my next point: Though individual pieces are tender, this is one sturdy mofo of a cake. It lifted out of the pan like a dream, without leaving any bits of crust behind; it was exceedingly easy to wrap in several layers of tinfoil and cart along to work and then over to a friend’s house, where four of us devoured two pieces each. The only downsides, I’d say, are that the sour cream flavor doesn’t come through as strongly as I’d have liked it to, and that it’s just the teensiest bit dry — which seems to be a running theme of Nonnie’s baked goods.

The best solution? Just enjoy it with a cup of milk — or, like, a cup of coffee, if that’s what you’re into.

Coffee Cake 3

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