Poor Me Coffee Cake

ADAPTED from Smitten Kitchen’s Big Crumb Coffee Cake, Epicurious’ Sour Cream Coffee Cake, and Martha Stewart’s Cardamon Streusel Coffee Cake, but inspired by the now extinct Intermezzo Cafe in Berkeley, California. It had the most exquisite coffee cake for half price at 9:30pm, which I enjoyed frequently in 2007.

BACKGROUND: I was feeling especially sorry for myself for various acts of self-inflicted stupidity so I decided to make a coffee cake with not one but two crumb/ streusel layers. It was a mixed blessing that I was out of powdered sugar or I would have contemplated adding chopped chocolate to a streusel layer and then dusting the whole thing with icing sugar. But if you’re feeling in the pits of despair, you may want to try it.

INGREDIENTS FOR CAKE: 2 cups all-purpose flour plus additional for dusting pan, 1 teaspoon baking soda, 3/4 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon baking powder, 1/2 cup of brown sugar, 1/2 cup of granulated sugar, 1 1/2 sticks of butter, 2 large eggs at room temperature for 30 minutes, 1 cup sour cream or yogurt (I used half of each), 1 teaspoon of vanilla

INGREDIENTS FOR WALNUT-CARDAMON STREUSEL: 1 cup of walnuts, 10 pods of cardamon, 1/4 cup of sugar, 2 tablespoons of melted butter, 1 teaspoon of cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon of salt

INGREDIENTS FOR BIG CRUMBS: 1/3 cup dark brown sugar, 1/3 cup granulated sugar, 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1/8 teaspoon salt, 6 tablespoons butter, melted, 1 1/2 cups cake flour

DIRECTIONS FOR WALNUT-CARDAMON STREUSEL: Toast walnuts and cardamon for 10 minutes at 350 degrees. Grind cardamon in spice grinder. In a food processor, add walnuts, sugar, salt, and cinnamon. Sift the ground cardamon over the walnut mixture and then pulse until walnuts are dropped. Add butter and pulse to combine.

DIRECTIONS FOR BIG CRUMBS: In a large bowl, whisk sugars, spices and salt into melted butter until smooth. Then, add flour with a spatula or wooden spoon. It will look and feel like a solid dough. Leave it pressed together in the bottom of the bowl and set aside.

DIRECTIONS FOR CAKE: Preheat oven at 350F/ 180C. Grease a 9 by 9 baking pan or a 10 inch springform pan. In one bowl, mix together flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. In a bigger bowl, cream butter and sugar. Beat eggs in one at a time and then add the sour cream or yogurt. Gradually beat in flour until just combined.

Spread half the batter on the bottom of the pan. Sprinkle walnut-cardamon streusel over the cake. Add the rest of the batter. Top off with big crumbs. Bake for 55 minutes to an hour in the oven. Cool completely and enjoy. Preferably without tears.

coffee cake


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