Suzi's Blog

Sourdough Coffee Cake from Maximum Flavor

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“I’m making this cake,” Suzen announced last Sunday morning. She had a book in her hands, cleverly hidden, and I was not shown the recipe.

Three hours later I was presented with the dish in the top picture: a dense coffee cake with streusel topping and that wedge of something slicing down into the cake.

I stared.

“It’s okay,” she said. “It’s supposed to be that way. That’s a gooey topping running down into the cake.”

“If it’s a topping, why isn’t it on top?” I asked.

“Because it would interfere with the streusel,” she answered.

“I’m confused,” I uttered.

She handed me a fork. She mouthed the words, “Shut up and eat,” but did not say them out loud.

Two bites and I forgot about the definitions of top, bottom and in between.

She made this cake because it uses sour dough starter. Anything with sour dough is on her agenda. Suzen has had the same sour dough starter since 1994 when she tested the recipes for The Joy of Cooking. For 20 years, that starter has been fed, watered, nourished and monitored through every event possible: power failures, hurricanes, and 9/11. She’s given samples that have traveled around the country.

And now, it the basis for this wonderful cake from Maximum Flavor. If you are a baker and have starter on hand, then you are good to go. If you ever needed just a little extra push to make your own starter, then here’s an outstanding reason.

The streusel topping is made with leftover cake crumbs. In my house, there is no such thing as leftover cake. But Suzen did have a frozen cake layer saved for our next dinner party. The party was forgotten, the layer defrosted and we had plenty of cake crumbs. I’m sure you’ll find a way to improvise, too. And the streusel topping can be made ahead and stored for 2 weeks, giving you plenty of time to put it to good use here.

This is another wonderful recipe from Maximum Flavor, a book you would truly enjoy.


Sour Dough Coffee Cake

Yield: 1 9-inch tube cake, enough for ~8 people


Gooey Topping:
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • ¼ cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 large egg yolk, at room temperature
  • 3 tablespoons Lyle’s Golden Syrup
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup / 150 grams all-purpose flour
Coffee Cake:
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup grams sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • ⅔ cup milk, at room temperature
  • 1 cup / 200 grams sourdough starter
Cake Crumb Streusel:
  • 1 ½ cups dry cake crumbs
  • ⅔ cup all-purpose flour
  • 6 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • ⅛ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter


Make the Streusel:

In a food processor, combine the cake crumbs, flour, sugar and salt and pulse a few times to blend. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture forms small clumps. Transfer the mixture to a lidded container and store in a refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

Make the Gooey Topping:

In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter, sugars, and salt until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the egg yolk and mix until well blended. Add the syrup and mix on low speed until well blended, 1 to 2 minutes.

Add the water and vanilla and mix until l well blended. Add the flour and mix on low speed until it comes together as a homogeneous mixture, scraping down the bowl as needed, 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer to a lidded container or zip-top bag and store in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

Make the Coffee Cake:

Preheat the oven to 3SO°F (i75°C). Butter a 9-inch (23 cm) tube cake pan with a removable bottom and put it on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter, sugar, baking powder, and salt until the mixture is light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Increase the mixer speed to medium and add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the flour and mix until it is fully incorporated, 1 to 2 minutes. Turn the mixer off and add the milk and the sourdough starter. Turn the mixer on low speed, then turn it up to medium and mix until a smooth, silky batter is formed, 15 to 20 seconds.

Transfer the batter to the prepared cake pan, using a rubber spatula to smooth it into an even layer. Tap the pan on the table a few times to level it out and remove any air bubbles. Use a teaspoon to scoop dollops of the gooey topping all over the surface of the cake. Sprinkle the cake crumb streusel over the top.

Bake until the cake begins to pull away from the sides of the pan and the top feels firm when touched, or the internal temperature of the center of the cake registers 208°-210° F (97°—98°C), about 1 hour and 20 minutes. Take the pan out of the oven and let the cake cool for 15 minutes in the pan. Then remove the sides and let the cake rest on a wire rack until cool, at least 1 hour.

Source: Maximum Flavor by Aki Kamozawa and Alexander H. Talbot

Photo Information Canon T2i, EFS 60 mm Macro Lens, F/2.8 for 1/80th second at ISO-3200







Cookbook Review: Brunch from Gale Gand



I recently posted a Loaded Potato Salad from Gale Gand’s lovely new Lunch book. There will be more recipes here from Lunch, but I did not want to forget her earlier book, Brunch.

What is so special about Gale’s food? It works, right out of the book. The recipes have the twist of a “little” complexity but you can read them and instantly know you will have something delightful. And successful. As author, chef, and restaurant owner, Gale understands a very basic fact of life: if the recipes fail, so would her business. She takes deep pride in her food and her recommendations to you. So, the ideas in Brunch [and Lunch] are honed to perfection.

Brunch has nine chapters that attack a brunch project from every direction. Here are the chapters along with some representative recipes:

Drinks: Hot Cocoa with Brown Sugar, Orange Lime Juice with Grenadine

Basics: 101 Courses for Omelets, Stratas, Frittatas, Quiches, and Crepes

More Eggs: Torta Rustica, Asparagus with Poached Eggs and Asparagus

Pancakes, Waffles, French Toast and Other Sweets: Almond Ciabatta French Toasts, Pineapple Noodle Kugel

The Bakery: Bacon Scallion Scones, Quick Pear Streusel Coffee Cake

Brunch Bites: Gougeres, Fried Quail Eggs on Eggnog French Toast

More Savories and Some Sides: Cheese and Tomato Galette, Goat Cheese and Chive Hash Browns

Salads and Soups: Apricot Chicken Salad, Beet and Artichoke Salad with Jicama

Fruits and Condiments: Roasted Pears and Rhubarb with Orange, Spicy Horseradish Mustard

The head notes for each recipe show the careful path that these recipes have followed: a fleeting glance of something in a San Francisco bakery that triggered her imagination and led to experiments that have finally unfold onto these pages. Why does she have brown sugar in her cocoa? Well, you’ll have to pick up a copy of the book and read to find out. Then I suspect you’ll be buying the book for a long, long series of test drives at home. You’ll immediately realize this: the whole brunch can come from this book.

Not surprisingly, Gale provides suggested menus for different holiday weekends, but I’m sure you will be tempted to pick-and-choose from the 100 recipes here. The benefit of Brunch is that you can scale the elegance and complexity of the meal. She offers a great Buttermilk Pancake recipe which you can pair with something delicately special, like a fruit butter. Or you can go all out and serve one of her upscale stratas with watermelon gazpacho along with cranberry angel-food muffins. Thanks to Gale, your brunch will surely be good and perhaps extravagant.

Brunch is an enjoyable book that will tempt you to spend next Sunday morning in the kitchen. Which is where you belong anyway. Right?