simple pleasure – sour cream coffee cake

by hungryrabbit on January 14, 2011

Sour Cream Coffee Cake w Brown Butter Streusel

While M and I were traveling in Asia, food was my priority and tea and photos were M’s. While he searched for tea with calmer enthusiasm than I did for food, we came upon a few lovely tea shops that offered a sampling of even their best offerings.

For visitors to Hong Kong, you can start with a visit to the Museum of Tea Ware at Flagstaff House (the oldest colonial building in Hong Kong) to learn the history and understand the importance of tea in China and the world. Next door is the Lock Cha Tea House, a peaceful oasis in hyper HK. It has a good variety of excellent teas and offers free classes in the art of tea (preparation/drinking). The prices are a bit high, but so is the quality.

To get tea at a better price, we went to Lam Kie Yuen Tea Co. Here, the tea master is also the proprietor and buyer. He holds court as he prepares tea for customers to sample, chatting away about harvests, differences in quality grades, brewing techniques, etc. Do not fear if you have no idea what you want to buy-just tell him what variety you prefer (black, green, white tea, etc.), and he will prepare tea according to your preference and guide you on an aromatic journey. M had a specific Fujian Oolong in mind, but after an hour of tea drinking and conversation with the master and another patron, he came out with new discoveries.

So after we came back to New York, M made a small pot of Oolong for us. It not only reawakened us from a long, drowsy plane ride, but also brought back memories of the trip. While the aroma perfumed my senses, I can’t help but think what pleasure a simple cup of tea can bring and so could a dessert.

After weeks of traveling and enjoying Asian desserts from various cuisines, I longed for a simple Western sweet that could hold up to that full-bodied cup of tea. Sour Cream Coffee Cake came to mind- a moist cake swirled with cinnamon sugar. Just like that cup of tea, it suggests several notes of flavors. The pecan streusel adds a contrasting texture to the cake and further solidifies the simple comfort element of this cake. Just like a good cup of tea, this cake can should be enjoyed at all times of the day.

Sour Cream Coffee Cake
w Brown Butter Streusel

Recipe from Hungry Rabbit
Serves 10 to 12

3/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour (3-3/4 ounces)
3/4 cup granulated sugar (5-1/4 ounces)
1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar (3-1/2 ounces)
2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold, cut into 2 pieces
1 cup pecans, chopped

12 tablespoons unsalted butter (1-1/2 sticks), softened but still cool, cut into 1/2-inch cubes, plus 2 tablespoons softened butter for greasing pan
4 large eggs
1½ cups sour cream
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2-1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (11-1/4 ounces)
1-1/4 cups granulated sugar (8-3/4 ounces)
1 tablespoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon table salt

1. In food processor, process flour, granulated sugar, 1/4 cup dark brown sugar, and cinnamon until combined, about 15 seconds. Transfer 1-1/4 cups of flour/sugar mixture to small bowl; stir in remaining ¼ cup brown sugar and set aside to use for streusel filling. Add butter and pecans to mixture in food processor; pulse until nuts and butter resemble small pebbly pieces, about ten 1-second pulses. Set aside to use as streusel topping.

2. Adjust oven rack to lowest position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 10-inch fixed-bottom tube pan with 2 tablespoons softened butter. Whisk eggs, 1 cup sour cream, and vanilla in medium bowl until combined.

3. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in bowl of standing mixer; mix on low speed for 30 seconds to blend. Add butter and remaining 1/2 cup sour cream; mix on low speed until dry ingredients are moistened and mixture resembles wet sand, about 1-1/2 minutes. Increase to medium speed and beat until batter comes together, about 10 seconds. Lower speed to medium-low and gradually add egg mixture in 3 additions, beating for 20 seconds after each and scraping down sides of bowl. Increase speed to medium-high and beat until batter is light and fluffy, about 1 minute.

4. Using rubber spatula, spread 2 cups batter in bottom of prepared pan, smoothing surface. Sprinkle evenly with 1/2 of streusel filling (without butter or nuts). Repeat with another 2 cups batter and remaining streusel filling (without butter or nuts). Spread remaining batter over, then sprinkle with streusel topping (with butter and nuts).

5. Bake until cake feels firm to touch and long toothpick or skewer inserted into center comes out clean (bits of sugar from streusel may cling to tester), 55 to 60 minutes. Cool cake in pan on wire rack 30 minutes. Invert cake onto rimmed baking sheet (cake will be streusel-side down); remove tube pan, place wire rack on top of cake, and reinvert cake streusel-side up. Cool to room temperature, about 2 hours. Cut into wedges and serve.

1. A fixed-bottom, 10-inch tube pan (with 10-cup capacity) is best for this recipe. Note that the streusel is divided into two parts—one for the inner swirls, one for the topping.

2. Cake can be wrapped and stored at room temperature for up to 5 days.

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{ 21 comments… read them below or add one }

bunkycooks January 14, 2011 at 8:11 am

I am sure the teas that you had on your trip and the experience you had while trying different ones was a very memorable one and not to be forgotten. Your coffee cake looks perfect for a cup of tea or coffee. I would not be picky if you would send me a slice…;)

merry jennifer January 14, 2011 at 8:21 am

One request — I need a piece of that cake when I visit NYC in March. Please? Pretty please? It looks divine.

Sara January 14, 2011 at 8:33 am

gorgeous gorgeous cake! I want a piece right now! Lovely pictures…I’m so glad you have a wonderful trip! Thanks for sharing Ken! :)

Jamie January 14, 2011 at 8:58 am

Welcome back, Ken! You may not really be any closer to me but now I feel that everyone is in their rightful place and it is comforting! I know you guys had a fabulous trip and thanks for sharing so much of it. This Coffee Cake must be the one favorite of everyone in my family! The men ask for something similar and gobble it down. This one looks so fabulous, moist, flavorful I must try this recipe the next time they ask! Yay! Gorgeous, babes! Soooooo next trip is Weimar in May? Can’t wait!

Renata Almeida January 14, 2011 at 9:14 am

good recipe, good pictures, good history, one of mouthwatering of the month! Thanks.

Brian @ A Thought For Food January 14, 2011 at 9:24 am

That streusel on top is making my mouth water!!! Looks wonderful Ken! And thanks for sharing your adventures in HK!

Winnie January 14, 2011 at 9:27 am

What a lovely post…and a lovely cake! Welcome back Ken :)

foodwanderings January 14, 2011 at 10:56 am

Wabbit I love your writing! You really make me feel as if I have experienced the mood the food anxiety and tea calmness! Love it that M is interested in tea and this post was born! Coffee cake is my all time favorite and with sour cream is double the pleasure.

Adryon January 14, 2011 at 11:59 am

This looks fantastic!

I’m so jealous of your trip. I’ve always wanted to see Hong Kong! For now I’ll just stare at the photos you took!

Amelia from Z Tasty Life January 14, 2011 at 3:38 pm

tea is special… I am a tea person (as opposed to a coffee person). I love the whole ritual associated with it. The “coffee” cake ironically is a perfect match for it!

CookiePie January 14, 2011 at 3:59 pm

What an interesting post, great photos, and a gorgeous cake!!! Love the browned butter idea!

Daydreamer Desserts January 14, 2011 at 8:12 pm

Great dessert choice to go along a very special cup of oolong tea. Loved the ribbon of streusel in the cake and the photo compilation from Lam Kie Yuen Tea Co. What an adventure!

Sylvie @ Gourmande in the Kitchen January 15, 2011 at 6:51 am

I like a generous amount of streusel on my coffee cakes (it’s the best part I think) and from the pictures this cake looks like it has lots! Fantastic!

Jackie January 15, 2011 at 10:06 am

I’ll take a little of that, please! Delicious! Bet it was awesome with the tea, too ;)

Jax x

rebecca January 16, 2011 at 2:40 pm

wow these tea houses look like so much fun and what a perfect cake with tea

KENNECTED January 18, 2011 at 11:08 am

Gorgeous photos!!

Joy January 18, 2011 at 8:40 pm

Welcome back, Ken! What an amazing trip you had. I would love to visit that Museum of Tea Ware. I’m a tea fanatic. :) I’m on a coffee cake kick lately myself, and yours look awesome!!! I’ve never baked it in a tube pan and I should next time.

Prerna@IndianSimmer January 19, 2011 at 1:26 am

Oh wow, the mere explanation of that aromatic tea just woke me up! Your trip sounds so refreshing and fun Ken and why not Asia :-)
That coffee cake is quite a treat and I can’t wait to try the recipe!

Laura October 4, 2012 at 11:43 am

Hi! Looking foward to making this….but where is the butter actually cooked and browned? (it is called brown butter, but I don’t see that it actually had brown butter).

hungryrabbit October 4, 2012 at 8:08 pm

Hi Laura, thanks for visiting my blog. The 2 tablespoons of butter blend with pecans are supposed to be browned butter, chilled. Sorry for the mistake and thanks for bringing it to my attention, much appreciated. -Ken

Laura November 9, 2012 at 10:21 am

Hi Ken-
I just wanted to let you know that this was a collosal hit. Not one crumb left! This will be our go to coffee cake from now on; everyone asked for recipe. Thanks for sharing!

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