It’s that time of year to break out the foods for the cold again. You know what I’m talking about- the soups, the cinnamon waffles, and the pumpkin spice lattes. Comfort foods, ladies and gentlemen, are what the autumn season is all about.
Although I am not an avid coffee drinker, I wanted to wish you all a Happy National Coffee Day! Most people I know need their toasty morning “Cup of Joe” to get them out of bed as the days become cooler. I’ve found that the perfect pastry to pair with this beverage is none other than coffee cake.
The history of coffee cake is a bit fuzzy, but some historians believed that it evolved in North America during the 1800s. Coffee cakes are variations of sweetened honey breads made by Europeans such as the Germans and Scandinavians.
Don’t be fooled- coffee cake doesn’t actually contain coffee. It’s simply an every day sweet cake spiced with a swirl of cinnamon sugar in the center. Coffee cake owes its richness to cultured or fermented cheeses like sour cream and cream cheese. It is usually served warm as a breakfast treat or a snack, but it tastes good at any temperature… at any time of day.
My coffee cake recipe calls for the usual, standard ingredients, with the exception of one component.
Rice flour is made from finely milled rice once the husk is removed from the grain. It is a common substitute in many recipes for those who are on a gluten-free diet. Rice is also an important food in many Asian cultures, so it is commonly used in the preparation of noodles and desserts.
Rice flour is available in many forms. It can be made from white or brown rice, and normal or “sticky,” sweet rice. The sweet rice causes the flour to become stickier when wet, and can be helpful when making thick sauces and desserts.
You can try substituting rice flour with all-purpose flour at a 1:1 ratio. Since rice flour does not contain any gluten, or wheat protein, recipes usually have a bit of tapioca flour to get a thicker, starchier consistency in the batter.
I wanted to make a slightly crumblier texture for my coffee cake recipe, and I thought the addition of rice flour could obtain that consistency. I think you will find that I made the right decision.
For the coffee cake: 1/2 cup softened butter (1 stick), 1 cup brown sugar, 2 eggs, 1 cup white rice flour, 1 cup all-purpose flour, 8 oz full-fat cream cheese, 1/2 Tbsp vanilla extract, 2 Tbsp cinnamon, 2 Tbsp milk, 1 tsp baking soda, 1 tsp baking powder
For the filling/topping: 1/2 cup brown sugar, 2 tsp ground cinnamon, 2 Tbsp melted coconut oil
Cream together the butter and sugar until the batter becomes light, fluffy, and smooth. It is best to use a hand or stand mixer for this process. Good ol’ muscle grease works just as well, but it takes much longer to complete.
Add the eggs, one at a time. Mix the eggs until the batter becomes smooth, yet slightly frothy.
Mix in the all-purpose flour, followed by half of the cream cheese. Then add the rice flour, and the remaining cream cheese. The batter should be dense and sticky.
Mix in the cinnamon, vanilla, milk, baking soda, and baking powder. Make sure these items are fully incorporated into the batter. Make the filling by mixing the brown sugar, cinnamon, and melted coconut oil together in a separate, small bowl.
Spread half the batter into the baking pan. Sprinkle half the filling on top of this batter.
Here comes the tricky part!
As I began my attempt to spread the second half of the batter on top of the filling, I noticed that my spatula was not delicate enough to handle the job properly. The filling went everywhere. I decided to use my hands instead. Nature’s very own utensils, at your service.
Sprinkle the remaining filling on the top layer of the coffee cake. Place the cake in the oven for 35 minutes. Remove the coffee cake from the oven, put aluminum foil on top of the pan, and bake the coffee cake for another 5 to 10 minutes.
The cake is finished when an inserted knife comes out clean, or when the cake springs back after you make a slight dent in it with your finger.
Pour your favorite hot beverage, sit back, and eat your new favorite treat. Happy Fall Equinox, and Happy National Coffee Day!
Your smile will be just as big as the one on this piece of coffee cake!