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







Coffee Shots from European Cookies



If you love cookies, if you love to bake, then Krisztina Maksai’s new book, European Cookies For Every Occasion, is a must have addition to your bookshelves. It’s brilliant, eye opening, and sure to transform the meaning of “cookie” for the rest of your life.

I’m serious.

The recipes are Eastern European and the cookies are elegant pastries, not the simple, dry wafers we call cookies. Your only regret will be not having sampled these wondrous treats. They are small and they are great.

In this book, no is no such thing as a simple cookie. There are layers and fillings and frostings. There are textures embedded within textures. When you eat one, you do it slowly and really rather marvel at how a “mere” cookie could be so powerful.

These Coffee Shots are an excellent example of what treats lie inside European Cookie. A Coffee Shot is a sandwich cookie, the layers made of ground almonds and flour. The cookies halves are married with a sugar-coffee paste. The cookie is adorned with a coffee frosting and then topped with a chocolate coffee or espresso bean.

Coffee Shots are not hard to make. They are not hard to eat. Addiction is, well, not my concern. And, you’ll want a cup or two of espresso to enjoy along the way. This is a pathway to escape the inconvenience of sleep. If you have a big test tomorrow, start baking.

The instructions here call for switching from the usual mixer paddle to the dough hook during the mixing process. Our Kitchen Aid mixer has a bowl that is very big, and the dough hook simply would not have been able to “grab” on the bottom and mix suitably. So, Suzen said we would stick with the regular paddle but keep mixing for the times called for in the recipe: 3-5 minutes.

You will need to mix for that full amount of time. There is little “soft” or “liquid” content in this recipe. Along the way, the mixture is dry and it does take time to come together as a dough that you can roll out and cut. Have faith and patience. This is a magnificent recipe.

Coffee Shots

Yield: ~25 to 35 cookies depending on the size of your cookie cutter 


Cookie Dough:

  • 1 ¼ sticks (145 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2/3 cup (70 grams) confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 medium egg yolk
  • ½ cup (70 grams) ground almonds
  • 1 ⅔ cups (200 grams) all-purpose flour


  • 1 cup (100 grams) confectioners’ sugar
  • ¾ stick (85 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 ½ teaspoons instant coffee


  • 1 cup (100 grams) confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 teaspoon instant coffee
  • 2 tablespoons cold brewed coffee
  • Coffee chocolate drops or chocolate-covered espresso beans


For the cookie, combine the butter and confectioners’ sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat until the mixture resembles a smooth paste, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the egg yolk, ground almonds, and flour, switch the electric mixer to the dough hook attachment, and mix until the dough is smooth, 3 to 5 minutes. Form the dough into a small loaf. Wrap the loaf in plastic wrap and put it in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Lightly flour a working surface and roll the dough to about 1/8 inch thick. Using a round cookie cutter cut the dough into 72 cookies.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and then transfer the cookies carefully to the sheet with a pastry spatula. Bake the cookies for 7 to 10 minutes or until the edges turn golden brown. Carefully remove them from the baking sheet with the pastry spatula and place them on a cooling rack to cool completely.

For the filling, stir the confectioners’ sugar, butter, and instant coffee together in a medium bowl with a fork until it resembles a smooth paste. Using a spoon, spread a teaspoon of filling on half of each of the cookies, and then top them with the remaining cookies.

For the decoration, mix the confectioners’ sugar and the instant coffee into the brewed coffee in a medium bowl until they are dissolved. Spread the mixture on top of the filled cookies with a teaspoon and decorate each cookie with a chocolate drop or espresso bean.

These cookies are good for about one week stored in an airtight container at room temperature.


Source: Savor Baking by Mary Cech

Photo Information Canon T2i, EFS 60 mm Macro Lens, F/2.8 for 1/100th second at ISO‑800