From America's Test Kitchen Season 3: Weekend Brunch
Sour cream coffee cakes should be buttery and rich. But some recipes yield a heavy cake that borders on greasy. We wanted a pleasantly rich cake with lots of streusel on top and throughout.
All-purpose flour gave us a better texture than the cake flour specified in many recipes. For richness, we used plenty of butter, sour cream, and eggs; the eggs contributed to the tight crumb we wanted. A good dose of baking powder, along with baking soda, was necessary to make this hefty batter rise. Rather than creaming the butter and sugar, which made the cake too light and airy, we cut softened butter and some of the sour cream into the dry ingredients, then added the eggs and the rest of the sour cream; the result was a tighter crumb. In addition to the streusel in the middle of the cake, we wanted more on top, so we started with a mixture of brown and granulated sugar and added a big hit of cinnamon and flour (to keep the streusel from congealing). We then divided the mixture—some for the interior streusel layers, which we sweetened further with more brown sugar, and the rest for the topping. To the latter, we added pecans and butter; the nuts toasted as the cake baked, so we didn’t have to toast them first. With two layers of streusel in our moist, rich cake and another layer on top with toasty, crunchy nuts, this was a coffee cake worth getting up for.
Serves 12 to 16
Refer to the illustrations below when layering the batter and streusel in the pan. 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.