Gluten-Free Coffee Cake
Why This Recipe Works
A coffee cake that feeds a crowd is perfect for Sunday brunches or holiday breakfasts. Most cake recipes cream butter and sugar, beat in eggs, and then alternate additions of dry ingredients and wet. While that method is great for producing a fluffy yellow cake, we wanted a coffee cake with a dense, rich crumb. Adding the butter with a portion of the sour cream to the dry ingredients, mixing for a few minutes, then adding the rest of the liquid was the key: It ensured the fat was evenly distributed (the flour clumped when we added butter and all the liquid at once), and because this approach reduced the mixing time—which meant less air was beaten into the batter—it delivered exactly the crumb we wanted. To avoid a greasy cake we found it essential to use less butter than you’d find in a traditional coffee cake; unlike the proteins in all-purpose flour, the starches in our gluten-free flour blend can’t absorb as much fat. For the baking pan, we liked the simplicity of a round cake pan (rather than a tube or Bundt pan), but our cake sank in the middle and didn’t cook through. A tube pan was essential, as the center tube, which conducts heat, ensured an even rise and a cake that cooked through evenly. The biggest hurdle was figuring out the streusel filling and topping. A classic streusel was too heavy for our cake—the high-starch gluten-free flour blend didn’t offer the same structure or stability of all-purpose flour—and it sank as it baked. Instead, we took a portion of the batter, added cinnamon and nutmeg, then swirled this spiced batter into the plain batter in the pan.