As a food blogger and recipe developer, I take my inspiration from myriad sources. Sometimes it’s something I see at the market, or what’s ripe in the garden, perhaps a snippet of food-related conversation that caught my ear, a cooking show, or a persistent memory of something I’ve eaten. Recently, I was fired up with inspiration over a slice of coffee cake I enjoyed at my favourite coffee shop, the Black Walnut Bakery Cafe.
I drop by there several times a week. Often I just get a coffee to go, but sometimes I take a book and linger over coffee and one of their baked-from-scratch treats. Oh man, can those people make pastry! I have no shame in admitting that I’m a flaky pastry snob, and I’ve raved about theirs to anyone who’ll listen (I have tolerant friends). The crusts of their swoonworthy butter tarts shatter most satisfyingly into a shower of flakes when you bite into them (avoid wearing black). And did I mention they use real butter and no preservatives? Makes me haaappy.
Recently, there was something new in the bakery case, a coffee cake topped with apple slices, cranberries and a rich, buttery sweet crumb. It was so good that I went back to buy a slice for my mother. I couldn’t stop thinking about it and, inspiration found, I set about making my own version. It took two attempts to achieve the coffee cake nirvana I was seeking. I was so happy with how it looked when I took it out of the oven that I tweeted about it.
My cake is different from the Black Walnut’s, but pays homage to theirs in that the base is a rich, sour cream coffee cake and the first bite of the tender, sweet and tart apple-cranberry topping makes your eyes open wide. There’s more cinnamon-scented fruit adorning mine, but no crumble. Seriously, it was like having an apple cranberry pie on top of a coffee cake. We’ve got a lot of bases covered here!
So, whose is better? Oh, I’m so not going there (and I love all my children the same, by the way). Why not make my version, and if you’re in London, drop by the Black Walnut to try a slice of theirs? That’s assuming there’s any left; those slices disappear pretty fast.
DISCLAIMER: This is not a sponsored post, just the product of my enthusiasm for great baking. In fact, the fine folks at the Black Walnut didn’t even know I was doing this until I mentioned it yesterday when I was there for … you got it, coffee and a butter tart.
Apple Cranberry Coffee Cake
My enthusiasm for cranberries seemingly knows no bounds. Take advantage of their crimson tartness while they’re in season and the people you bake for will thank you. Combine them with apples and cinnamon and tumble them on a sour cream coffee cake, and you’re about to experience the smell of amazingness from your oven.
Preheat oven to 350ºF. Butter a 9-1/2 inch springform pan. Line the bottom with parchment paper and then butter that.
Apple Cranberry Topping
- 2 small apples, cored, peeled, cut into 8 – 12 slices and then cut into 1/2-inch chunks (I recommend a softer apple like a MacIntosh for this)
- 1 cup fresh cranberries, picked over and rinsed
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon (Saigon cinnamon, if you have it)
- 1 tbsp cane sugar
Mix the fruit, cinnamon and sugar in a bowl and set aside while you make the cake batter.
Sour Cream Coffee Cake
- 1/2 cup butter, softened to room temperature
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 cup 14% sour cream
- 1-1/2 cups flour
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 3 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon (I use Saigon cinnamon)
Put all the dry ingredients into a bowl, stir and set aside. Cream the butter until light, then add the sugar gradually and continue to cream until fluffy. Add the vanilla and eggs, and beat until well blended, scraping down the bowl once. Add 1/3 of the dry ingredients, and beat on slow speed until barely mixed in. Beat in half the sour cream. Repeat until the last of the flour has been incorporated. Scrape down the bowl and mix just enough to ensure the batter is smooth.
This makes a fairly stiff batter. Spread it into the prepared springform pan, fashioning about a 1-1/2 inch ring around the outside that’s a little higher than the centre. Mound the apple cranberry topping in the centre well of the cake. Yes, it looks like a lot! It is, actually, but not too much.
Bake for 50 minutes, or until a tester inserted at the inside edge of the outer ring of cake comes out clean. Because of all the fruit juices, the centre of the cake will be very moist.
Cool on a rack, then run a knife around the outside of the baking pan and release the springform ring. Carefully remove the cake from the parchment paper and ease onto a serving plate.
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