Coffee cake is meant to bring people together. Meant to be shared. Never meant to be for a party of one, right? Well, this is THE ONE for conversation-stopping raves, to be served at any get-together, formal or casual. I am not kidding.
When I first tested this, I wasn’t having any kind of party so I called a couple friends and my mom and told them to come grab a hunk of the circle and give me feedback. One of my friends wanted me to call it A-mazing Coffee Cake and my dad has probably called three times in a week either telling me it was the best cake he’s ever tasted or to tell me to enter a baking contest with it. In other words, he’s been buttering me up so I’d make it for him again, and soon.
This Cinnamon Walnut Coffee Cake starts with an incredibly moist but dense butter cake with sour cream to add subtle tang in every bite. The filling is a simple yet (dare I say?) PERFECT mixture of brown sugar, cinnamon, cocoa powder and toasted walnuts. Chocolate is not recognized in the taste so much as it adds an unmistakable richness. If I’m trying to find some health benefits to this decadent delight, well cinnamon, dark chocolate and walnuts fits the bill here. (Yes, it’s a stretch but I’m sticking with it.)
Finishing the cake is my ramped-up version of a simple sugar glaze. Made with powdered sugar, pure vanilla extract and a touch of hot milk, drizzle the glaze over the ridges of the Bundt cake and then pop it in the oven under your broiler just until the glaze starts to bubble on top. This step will give the glaze a subtle crispness but also deepens the vanilla flavor within the glaze. Plus, I think broiling the glaze gives it that country bakery, made from scratch, “this is special” kind of appearance.
And it really is special. Cinnamon Walnut Coffee Cake will keep for two days (wrapped airtight), but if you can, serve it warm out of the oven. And cut the pieces large, because one skinny piece is not going to be enough – for anybody.
Oh, and what I said earlier about coffee cake never being for a party of one? Well, you go right ahead and pour yourself a cup of coffee, tea or milk and eat the last piece of this cake all by yourself. Because I know I will.
- Layers of goodness:
- ¾ cup dark brown sugar
- 1 Tablespoon cinnamon
- 1 Tablespoon cocoa powder
- 1 cup walnuts, toasted and then finely chopped
- 3 cups sifted all-purpose flour (Sift the flour first and then measure it. Do it)
- 1½ teaspoons baking powder
- 1½ teaspoons baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¾ cup butter (1½ sticks), at room temperature
- 1½ cups sugar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- 3 large eggs at room temperature (Also important for extra fluffiness)
- 2 cups sour cream (16 ounces), room temperature (Do NOT use low or fat free)
- 2 cups powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3-4 Tablespoons hot milk
- About 30 minutes before starting this recipe (depending on the warmth of your kitchen), take the eggs, sour cream and butter out of the refrigerator and let come to room temperature on your counter. This is a good time to toast the walnuts as well.
- Preheat oven to 375F degrees. Prepare a 12-cup Bundt pan by rubbing soft butter all over inside and then flour pan generously.
- For the cinnamon walnut layers: In a medium bowl, combine brown sugar, cinnamon, cocoa powder and toasted nuts. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, combine sifted flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Whisk together and set aside.
- In the bowl of a standing mixer or other large mixing bowl (if using stand mixer, use paddle attachment), cream the butter with sugar until light and fluffy. Add vanilla. Add one egg at a time, beating after each one. Scrape sides of bowl and beat at high speed until mixture is light and creamy, about one minute.
- On low speed, add dry ingredients in three additions alternating with sour cream in two additions. Beat only until smooth after each addition.
- Spread your first layer of batter in bottom of prepared pan. This is easier to do if you use a small spoon to drop batter into pan and then smooth it together. Top with ⅓ of the nut mixture (it is okay if it spreads to touch the pan). Repeat until you have four layers of batter and three layers of nut filling. The top layer will be batter.
- Place pan in oven on center rack (never put a Bundt pan on a tray. Air needs to circulate through the hole in the center of the Bundt pan).
- Bake until a toothpick or skewer comes out with a few crumbs, about 44-48 minutes. Remove and let cool on rack for 5 minutes.
- Invert cake onto a cooling rack and remove pan. Place a baking pan under the cooling rack.
- Turn oven back on to a High Broil setting and place oven rack one slot below the middle.
- To make the glaze: combine powdered sugar, vanilla and milk in a medium bowl. Mix well. Mixture should have the consistency of a thick cream sauce. Using a large spoon, quickly drizzle glaze over top of cake, allowing glaze to flow down the sides. Do this quickly as the glaze will begin to stiffen quickly, making it harder to pour. (Don't let too much flow off the cake if you can. You want as much to stay on the cake as possible.)
- Place cake and baking sheet in oven and do not close oven door all the way. Allow to cook, watching carefully, until glaze starts to crisp up and barely bubble. About 3-4 minutes.
- Remove from the oven and let cool for about 10 minutes before cutting. Serve warm or cover in plastic or an airtight container for up to 3 days.
Recipe adapted from Maida Heater’s Book of Great Desserts. And if you like to bake and don’t know about Maida, then run to your local library or book store and pick up ANY of her cookbooks.