Saturday, September 26, 2009

aunt ruth's sour cream coffee cake

My Great-Aunt Ruth is an amazing baker. She's from North Carolina, and she came to visit us once in California with her recipe files in her suitcase and then proceeded to bake us cookies! She's the kind of down home baker who makes icebox cake that my cousin, Gregg, eats straight out of the pan with a spoon until he's reprimanded. (He's 38.) This is her recipe for a good, old-fashioned sour cream coffee cake. It's delicious, moist, with a light crumb, and laced with cinnamon filling.

Aunt Ruth's Sour Cream Coffee Cake
2 sticks butter
2 cups (14 ounces) sugar
4 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
4 teaspoons lemon juice
4 cups (17 ounces) flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
pinch or two of salt
2 cups sour cream

1 cup (7 ounces) light brown sugar
1 cup chopped nuts
4 teaspoons cinnamon

*You will need 1 1/2 times the filling recipe if you follow my friend Anna's method below.

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease (better yet, spray with cooking spray with flour) two 9" loaf pans.

Cream butter and sugar until light. Add eggs, vanilla, and lemon juice.

Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add the flour mixture and sour cream to the butter mixture, alternately, a tablespoon at a time. Spread 1/4 of the mixture in each loaf pan (so you've used up half the mixture altogether).

Stir together the filling ingredients: brown sugar, chopped nuts, and cinnamon. Sprinkle 1/4 of the filling over one cake and 1/4 of the filling over the other (again, you've used up half the filling altogether). Top with the rest of the batter, divided evenly between the two pans, and sprinkle the remaining filling on top, dividing it evenly as well.

Alternatively, you can use Anna's method. In this case make 1 1/2 times the filling recipe and set aside a third of it for the topping. Spread 1/4 of the cake batter in each loaf pan (so you've used up half the mixture altogether). Sprinkle half the filling over each pan, then top with the remaining batter, divided evenly between the two pans. Now take a butter knife and swirl like you mean it. Really swirl it so the filling gets nicely mixed in. When you're done, sprinkle the tops with the reserved filling, dividing it evenly between the two pans. I have made the cakes this way, but only for a client, so I didn't get to see what they looked like cut open, and I'm not sure which method I prefer. I have had Anna's coffee cake when she makes it, and it's delicious. The first method will yield more of a ribbon of filling, whereas the second will yield filling that is distributed throughout the cake.

Bake for about 45 minutes. If the cakes look like they are getting too brown on top, you can tent them lightly with foil after 35 minutes or so. They are great for breakfast or a sweet treat any time.

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