Germans bake a huge variety of cakes, which can be found in pretty much every bakery in Germany (and there are, literally, bakeries on nearly every corner), but the mountain huts usually serve a more limited selection of cakes. It’s usually what you would think of as a more traditional “coffee cake”, made with whatever fruit is in season. Apple cakes and plum cakes abound, but apricot, cherry, strawberry, rhubarb, and most other fruit versions of the coffee cake can also be found throughout the summer. Germans often make a yeasted cake, piled high with fruit, and sometimes serve it with a heaping spoonful of whipped cream. At the more rustic places, they’ll just cut off a slab of cake, minus the whipped cream. These cakes are moist enough that the additional whipped cream really isn’t necessary (unlike Austrian Sachertorte, but that’s a whole ‘nother story).
I have every intention to begin experimenting with the German yeasted cake base (recipes will come! I promise), but in the meantime, I feel like it is really important to have a good, basic coffee cake in your arsenal of baked goods. On this point, I always return to the classic cinnamon sugar streusel coffee cake. Because it doesn’t involve fruit, it can be baked year-round, and it is an excellent base for all sorts of improvisations. It’s also super easy, and while I am not afraid to venture into the world of complex baking, sometimes you just want a minimum-fuss cake that can be made quickly, giving you the time to fold your laundry, wash the dishes, watch some YouTube videos, and make plans for your upcoming Alaskan adventure, while it is baking.
Recipe adapted from King Arthur Flour
My recipe is sized slightly smaller than many recipes you will find for coffee cake. I tend to make my cake in a small square brownie pan, which easily serves 9 - 12 people. For my non-American friends, note also that "coffee cake" doesn't actually contain coffee- it refers to the fact that this cake is best served as an accompaniment to coffee, and usually for a mid-afternoon break. It does make a really delicious breakfast as well... oh, and if you want it for breakfast, you can totally prepare the cake batter and assemble it in the pan the night before, then just cover the pan with plastic wrap and refrigerate, and pop it in the oven in the morning.
scant 1/4 cup (50 g or a little less) granulated sugar
scant 1/4 (50 g or a little less) cup brown sugar
1/2 Tbsp cinnamon
pinch of salt
3/4 cup (80 g) all-purpose flour
1/4 cup (1/2 stick, 2 oz, or 55 g) unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup (100 g) brown sugar, light or dark
1 Tbsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder
3 oz. (85 g) butter
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cups (150 g) granulated sugar
scant 1/4 cup (50 g - or a little less) brown sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup (80 g) sour cream
2/3 cup (160 g) milk (non-fat or low-fat is also fine)
2 cups (250 g) All-Purpose Flour
1. Preheat oven to 350°F / 180°C.
2. Butter and flour a 8 inch square baking pan (or whatever size you have!)
3. To prepare the cake, cream together the butter, salt, sugars, baking powder and vanilla extract.
4. In a separate bowl, mix together the sour cream and milk.
5. Mix the sour cream mixture and the flour into the creamed butter/sugar mixture, alternately pouring in the sour cream and flour until it is well mixed.
6. Spread half the cake batter evenly in the pan.
7. To make the filling, mix the sugar, cinnamon, and cocoa in a bowl.
8. Sprinkle the filling over the first half of the batter that is spread in the pan, then spread the rest of the cake batter over the layer of filling.
9. Make the crumb topping: combine all of the ingredients and then, with your hands, break the crumb mixture into chunks and sprinkle all over the top of the cake.
10. Last, in a bowl, mix together approximately one Tbsp of cinnamon and 1/4 cup granulated sugar. Sprinkle this cinnamon sugar mixture over the top of the entire cake, which is already covered with the crumb mixture.
11. Bake for approximately 50 minutes- check with a sharp knife to make sure the center is baked, and try not to bake it too long. You want to take the cake out of the oven the second the center is no longer gooey, and a knife comes out clean.