Friday, May 6, 2011

Apricot Cinnamon Swirl Coffee Cake

Category: Breakfast
Difficulty Rating: Easy-Medium (if you make the glaze--I don't!)

This coffee cake is an adaptation of a classic. Introduced to me by my dear friend Carol Lawless, it is a recipe featured in Ina Garten's wonderful Parties! cookbook. It's a gorgeous, showy cake. When Carol, who is an excellent cook, brought it to a party, we all were drooling in awe! Yet, it's not that hard to make. My kinda coffee-cake!

Because Ina has tinkered with the eggs vs. flour ratio, it is light and moist compared to most sour cream coffee cake recipes. It still has the familiar ribbon of cinnamon streusel, but the texture is more delicate. I really think it has a lot to do with the fact that she uses cake flour instead of regular flour. I also added some tangy dried apricots and used toasted almonds instead of walnuts. A nice change I think!

I've been making the Betty Crocker Cookbook version of this since Lauren was a baby--and my mom made the same one before me. That recipe uses regular flour. But if you have any cake flour in the house, I urge you to try Ina's instead. Much bettah!


12 T unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks) at room temperature
1 1/2 C granulated sugar
3 extra-large eggs at room temperature
1 t real vanilla extract
1 t brandy (optional)
1 1/4 C sour cream
2 1/2 C cake flour
2 t baking powder
1/2 t baking soda
1/2 t kosher salt


3/4 C light brown sugar, packed
1/2 C flour
1 1/2 t ground cinnamon
1/4 t salt
3 T cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 1/2 C finely minced dried apricots*(optional)
2/3 C toasted walnuts--chopped very fine


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease (shortening is best for this) and flour a 10-inch tube pan. This is juuuussst enough for a medium sized coffee cake. You can use a 12-cup Bundt pan, but do double the recipe!

Note: When I use my Bundt pan, which is NOT non-stick, I cut 1" X 15" strips of baking parchment and lay them in the larger parts of the greased pan (not the crevices) and all the way up the sides. The way I lay them looks like a wagon-wheel's spokes. It's much easier to get the coffee cake out in one piece that way.

Cream the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment for 4 to 5 minutes, until light. Add the eggs one at a time, then add the vanilla... brandy and sour cream. In a separate bowl, sift together the flou , baking powder, baking soda and salt. With the mixer on low, add the flour mixture to the batter until just combined. Finish stirring with a spatula to be sure the batter is completely mixed.

For the streusel, place the brown sugar, flour, cinnamon, salt and butter in a bowl and pinch together with your fingers until it forms a crumble. Or mix in a food processor.  Mix in chopped almonds and apricots.

*Note: If your dried "cots" are not very sweet or on the hard side (which is most of the time)--bring a cup of water to boil in a saucepan...add a teaspoon of sugar and the apricots then simmer for a few minutes. Drain water and let the fruit drain on a few paper towels before using them.

Let cool on a wire rack for at least 30 minutes. Carefully transfer the cake, streusel-side up,onto a serving plate. Whisk the powdered sugar and maple syrup together, adding a few drops of water if necessary, to make the glaze runny. Drizzle as much as you like over the cake with a fork or spoon.

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