The origins of crumb-topped coffee cakes appear to come from Central and Eastern Europe. The Germans and Austrians use a yeast-raised dough while Polish and Jewish bakers use baking powder and soda for leavening. Communities in the Mediterranean will use plain yogurt instead of sour cream to interact with the baking powder to leaven their coffee cakes. Despite the name, this coffee cake it is not made with coffee but is meant to be enjoyed with a cup of joe, tea or a tall glass of milk—morning, noon or night. You’ll love it anytime.
To my taste the best parts of this cake are the crispy, crunchy, nutty, buttery crumb topping and the chocolate filling. The topping does double duty as the cinnamon streusel topping and the center filling with added chocolate. So carefully read the recipe to make sure you don’t add chocolate to the top or it will burn when baking. Baking times will vary according to pan size and your oven. Always use a cake tester to check the doneness of the bake.
Prep time: 25 minutes
Bake time: 30 to 35 minutes (for the square springform pan pictured)
Cooling time: 20 minutes
Yield: 8 to 10 serving
For the crumb streusel topping and filling
1 cup pecans, chopped
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon table salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 cup dark chocolate chips (to be used when layering the filling, not for the topping)
For the butter cake
1-7/8 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1 tablespoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup butter (room temperature)
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup sour cream (room temperature)
1/2 cup semi-sweet mini chocolate chips (dusted in a little flour)
ChefSecret: This cake can also be baked in a couple of well-buttered loaf pans. Eat one today and freeze the other to enjoy later. I’ve made this recipe in fluted pans with removeable bottoms. I have tried Bundt pans with debatable results—you really must make sure you both butter and flour the Bundt pan to prevent the cake from sticking in the crevasses. If you decide to use a Bundt pan, use one with a very simple design.
To keep the mini chocolate chips from sinking to the bottom of the cake, dust them lightly with a little flour. This works for most inclusions in baked goods like blueberries and cranberries—a quick dusting or dredge in flour will keep everything suspended in the cake batter.
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