…from the Perspectives’ Kitchen
How you doin’? Growing up in SoCal and loving sweets I had three favorite places where I liked to get special treats—C.C. Browns, Hollywood (the inventors of the hot fudge sundae), Will Wright’s, Beverly Hills (the richest and bestest ice cream in town—20% butterfat) and Blum’s, West Los Angeles (Coffee Crunch Cake—recipe below). These sweet shops best represent my happy years, high styles and wonderful youthful memories.
Once I got my driver’s license and I was the treator, I was no longer dependent on a parent to drive me to one of these places. I had mobility and quickly discovered that my 16- and 17-year-old dates love these places and desserts, too! But with all these choices my all-time favorite was Blum's and their Coffee Crunch Cake.
In San Francisco there were two Blum’s… one on Union Square and a second one in the basement of the Fairmont Hotel. It turned out these were places where people wanted to meet on a regular basis to eat. While they had an old-fashioned café menu the one reason that so many of us remember Blum's with such fondness is their Coffee Crunch Cake. It was the perfect special occasion cake or as a mid-afternoon treat.
When Blum's closed all their locations in the 1970’s, everyone thought the recipe for Coffee Crunch Cake—a well-kept secret—was lost forever. But as often happens, someone was able to reconstruct the secret formulation and wanted to share it with a new generation. Today you can share my sweet memories with your loved ones right in your own kitchen.
The cake is a simple, light sponge cake (chiffon-style) flavored with a touch of lemon and pure vanilla. It is frosted with a rich heavy whipped cream spread thinly between the layers and on the sides and top. The pièce de resistance… it’s covered with crushed bittersweet coffee crunch candy (honeycomb confection). The blend of textures of soft cake, silky frosting and crunchy confection are fantastic, proving the whole is better than the sum of its parts. It will be an instant classic on your table.
The directions are a bit long. Don’t let this put you off, the result is well worth the effort. If you allow enough time and follow the step-by-step directions, you will have a yummy winner every time—it’s failure-proof. Remember, a party without cake is just another meeting.
Prep time: 45 minutes
Bake time: 50 to 55 minutes
Cool time: 45 to 55 minutes, plus 1 hour (for the crunch)
Assemble time: 20 minutes
Refrigerate time: 1 hour
Yield: 12 servings
For the cake
1-1/4 cups cake flour, sifted
1-1/2 cups granulated sugar, divided
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
6 large egg yolks
1/4 cup water
7 to 8 large egg whites (about 1 cup)
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon freshly-grated lemon zest
For the coffee crunch
Unflavored vegetable oil
1 tablespoon baking soda, sifted
1/4 cup strong brewed coffee
1-1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/4 cup light corn syrup
For the frosting
2 cups heavy cream
3 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
To make the cake
ChefSecret: Chiffon cakes can be a bit finnicky. When you review the recipe, you’ll find there is not any leavening—baking powder or baking soda. The rise is strictly predicated on the whipped eggs whites and yolks which makes the cake susceptible to falling if they are disturbed during the baking or cooling process. Don’t make too much noise. Don’t be heavy footed and create vibrations and don’t open the oven door to see how it’s doing. Follow these precautions and you will have a light, fluffy and delicious sponge cake ready to frost and CRUNCH.
Quip of the Day: “Cake never asks me dumb questions—cake understands me.”
Do you have a question or comment? Send your thoughts to firstname.lastname@example.org. All recipes and cooking tips are posted on our website https://www.perspectives-la.com/covid-19-survival-guide.
To you and everyone dear to you, be strong, be positive, stay well, stay safe and be kind. Take a breath and count your blessings, and if you have a little extra to share with others, please consider donating to Feeding America and/or American Red Cross.
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