Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Cinnamon Chocolate Chip Coffee Cake

Coffee cake is hard to ruin. Nonetheless, every time I make coffee cake, I end up on pins and needles until it comes out of the oven and I’ve sliced into it. This is entirely my fault. I’m unable to leave a good recipe alone and bake as directed. I stubbornly insist on mucking about with demonstrably good things.

Take this Smitten Kitchen recipe. It looks delightful – nay, it is delightful. And it sounded like just the thing. Except … (there’s always an “except”), her recipe calls for two cups of sour cream. I’ve had coffee cakes with that much sour cream before and found the flavor overpowering and the texture so rich that they approached cheesecake levels of decadence. Since I’m on a huge baking-with-yoghurt kick, I thought it would make a good replacement. Also, I really like nuts in my coffee cake, so I wanted to add them. And here’s where I’m just a big show-off: I wanted to use a bundt pan, not the 9x13 pan indicated, for a higher visual impact factor. Sometimes, even I am astonished by my frivolity.

Deb was kind enough to respond to a desperate comment-message inquiring about the recipe’s suitability for the bundt … but she’d never tried it. If the recipe failed – if the cake overflowed the pan and left a mountain range of charred batter at the bottom of my oven, or if the longer baking time necessitated by the bundt pan made my cake as dry as biscotti and dense as a lead apron – I would have only myself to blame.

Fortunately, neither disaster came to pass, and I can cheerfully send you forth to bake this coffee cake without any caveats save one: don’t try this in a smaller bundt pan. I was using an old-fashioned, full-size bundt, and it just barely contained the risen dough. Those new bundt pans with pretty stamped patterns are gorgeous, and I keep meaning to buy one, but they might prove too small for this particular batter. Also, since the chocolate-and-nut topping is what gives this visual impact, you’ll want to serve it baked-side-up anyway; the lovely cake imprint would be for naught and might cause dangerous structural instability.

A large tube pan would probably have been even better, but I don’t own one.

Cinnamon Chocolate Chip Coffee Cake

1 stick unsalted butter at room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 eggs, separated
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon almond extract (optional)
1 cup full-fat sour cream
1 cup plain yoghurt (I used full-fat, but reduced fat would probably be okay) (you could also just use 2 cups sour cream)
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
½ teaspoon salt

12 ounces chocolate chips (1 regular bag)
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ cup toasted walnuts or pecans (optional)

Preheat oven to 350°F. In a large bowl, cream butter and 1 1/2 cups sugar. Add egg yolks, vanilla, and almond extract and mix well.

In a separate bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. In a small bowl or large measuring cup, mix together sour cream and yoghurt until smooth. Alternately add yoghurt/sour cream and flour mix to large bowl, beginning and ending with yoghurt/sour cream mix and blending well after each addition. Beat eggs whites until stiff and fold into batter.

Mix last 1/2 cup sugar and cinnamon together in a separate, small dish.

Pour half of the cake batter into greased bundt pan or 9x13” pan. Sprinkle with half of the cinnamon-sugar mixture and half of the chocolate chips and nuts. Pour remaining batter on top, and sprinkle on the remaining cinnamon-sugar, chocolate chips, and nuts. Bake for 40-55 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

I would guess that it bakes more quickly in a 9x13” pan. My bundt-cake version took 52 minutes to bake to my satisfaction; because my oven is so hot, it could conceivably take an hour or more in your oven.

This is a really great coffee cake and highly recommended. Despite the longer baking time, it was very moist and tender. I didn’t find the sour cream overpowering when reduced to one cup, and the nuts gave it that little extra oomph.

The chocolate chips makes this so decadent that it feels more like a regular dessert than a breakfast/brunch cake. Not that this should inhibit you. It certainly didn’t stop me from downing my fair share.

Hand model Danti's thumb in lower-left corner

Pretty, pretty cake

Printable recipe here


  1. Haha your hand model is going to make her grocery shopping list based on your post;P

  2. I can think of worse strategies. :)