POWERING THROUGH THE SOUR CREAM

December 24, 2008

So the 16 oz. of light sour cream that resulted from the aforementioned series of misunderstandings was not all of it. The remaining 16 oz. haunted me with its siren call until I decided that despite the February expiration date, that stuff had to be out of the fridge before I left for California. I used the opportunity to veganize the previous recipe, aside from the the sour cream of course. The combination of banana and yogurt worked very well, with only a hint of banana permeating the cake. If forced to choose I would say I liked this version better, but that might only be because I made more topping and dressed it up with more fruits.

Identity Crisis Coffee Cake
Thanks to Deb for posting the helpful agave-related info. I made this version of the cake before receiving them but next time I go for agave over granulated sugar I'll follow her liquid proportions and baking time suggestions.

For cake:
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup raw cane sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup agave syrup
1/2 cup 0% Fage yogurt
1 banana, mashed
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
16 oz light sour cream
3 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
For topping:
1 1/4 cups dried currants
1 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup dried apricots, chopped
1 1/2 - 2 cups chopped walnuts
1 - 1 1/2 cup light brown sugar
2 1/2 tsp cinnamon
Preheat oven to 350°F and grease a 9" x 13" pan.

Mix topping ingredients in bowl and set aside.

Sift together flour, baking soda and baking powder in medium-sized bowl and set aside.

Using an electric mixer, combine wet ingredients. Gradually add flour and switch to a mixing spoon if necessary.

Pour a little more than half of the batter into the prepared pan, smoothing it until it is more or less even.

Evenly sprinkle half of the topping and cover with the rest of the batter. Smooth the top as best you can and sprinkle the rest of the topping evenly over the cake.

Bake for an hour or so until a toothpick comes out clean (might take a little longer).

DAMN FINE CUP OF CAKE

December 19, 2008

Through a series of misunderstandings and a case of mistaken identity (though, if the cream cheese had sat in the cupboard much longer it probably would have at least smelled like sardines) I ended up with a surplus of sour cream in the fridge. "Surplus" meaning "some," because typically there is none. I don't know what people do with sour cream but baked potatoes aren't usually on the menu and I can't think of any other dish that would require me to purchase the stuff. True to form, I decided to figure out something to make with the sour cream rather than let it go to waste. This of course required employing kitchen staples that otherwise would have gone towards a planned and necessary dish in the service of using up the sour cream, amounting to a net loss of food funds. At least it would have amounted to a net loss had the resultant coffee cake not been so damn delicious and had it not prompted me to finally use the currants I've been carting around for about seven months now.

This coffee cake is the kind of coffee cake that motivates you to make a pot of coffee just to have an excuse to eat it. It is moist and soft but quite firm and slices well without crumbling into bits. You can adjust the streusel to meet your taste; when I make it again I'm going to layer just a bit more in the middle. This took me back to the days when I was near obsessed with eating coffee cake every Sunday, with the plus of not making me feel like I was going to need someone to cart me around in a wheelbarrow for the rest of the day. It keeps very well in the fridge so you don't need to eat three warm mugfuls topped with raspberry jam in one sitting. Unless you want to.

Currant-Walnut Coffee Cake
I spent way too long trying to find cake recipes that included sour cream and discoverd that for a 9" x 13" cake most recipes required essentially the same proportion of ingredients. Eventually ended up amalgamating this one and this one. I'm not a big fan of putting chocolate in bread so I liked the idea of the currants and jettisoned the addition of cocoa powder. I was considering veganizing the cake by subbing yogurt for eggs but didn't have yogurt, and also considering using agave syrup as a healthier sweetening agent but worried about the batter becoming too soupy. The substitution of agave for sugar necessitates the reduction of other liquids by 1/3 and I didn't know if the sour cream counted as a liquid, if the eggs technically counted as a liquid...I decided it wasn't worth the stress. That said, next time I might try going 1/2 cup sugar and 2/3 cup agave and leaving the other ingredients as is. Next time I will also use whole wheat pastry flour, which I was holding in reserve for these.

For cake:
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 eggs
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
16 oz light sour cream
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
For topping (you can't really mess this up, just use as much of each ingredient as you prefer):
2 cups dried currants
1 1/2 - 2 cups chopped walnuts
3/4 - 1 cup sugar (I used raw florida crystals but next time I will use light brown)
2 tsp cinnamon
Preheat oven to 350°F and grease a 9" x 13" pan.
Mix topping ingredients in bowl and set aside.
Cream butter and sugar until fluffy, then add eggs and vanilla and mix until thoroughly incorporated.
Sift flour (I think this is important) and whisk together with baking soda and baking powder.
Incorporate, alternating between adding the sour cream and the flour mixture to the wet ingredients.
Pour a little more than half of the batter into the prepared pan, smoothing it until it is more or less even. I say a little more than half because I like my filling as close to in the middle as possible and have had too many loaves and cakes ruined by filling sinking to the bottom and sticking to the pan. Avoid the devastation.
Sprinkle batter with a little more than half (depending on how you like your filling to topping ratio) of the the currants and nuts and cover with the rest of the batter. Smooth the top as best you can and don't worry if the smoothing process churns up a bit of the filling. Sprinkle the rest of the topping evenly over the cake.
Bake for 50 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Not only did I dig into it immediately without it dissolving into a steamy mess, but I left it in the pan to cool without it suffering any ill-effects. The edges did not toughen and the bottom did not burn. Once I did want to transfer it, it slipped right out of pan without leaving a speck of itself behind.

reason for making the coffee cake
coffee cake