Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches have peanut butter and jelly in them. Chocolate chip cookies (!!!) have chocolate chips in them. Bean-and-cheese burritos have beans and cheese in them. You get the point, right?
With those valid points in mind, can you tell me why traditional coffee cake has NO coffee in it? This breakfast favorite has been at the top of my to-do list for a while, and as I've browsed various recipes, I thought maybe it was just a choice of those recipe-creators to leave the coffee out. When I told my dad I was making coffee cake, he jokingly asked, "Cool! You do know that coffee cake doesn't really have coffee in it, right?" I gave him no answer, just a blank stare. He's a trustworthy man with experienced breakfast tastebuds, so I figured if anyone is right about this, it's him.
Why in the world would a baker include in the name of the baked good an ingredient that isn't on the list?
After a couple hours of letting that question roll around in my mind, as I sipped a cup of coffee myself, I figured that maybe coffee is left out of traditional coffee cake because the delicious baked good is typically eaten alongside a warm cup of coffee. Makes sense. Kind of.
Any semi-serious baker knows that, in order to produce a fluffy loaf, baking soda needs acid to make bubbles --> fluffy loaf. K. Coffee is acidic, so again I ask whyyyy leave it out? Or, why add another acidic component like buttermilk or lemon juice or something when you're probably going to make coffee in an hour or two anyway to sip with each bite of the cake?
I've only come across one - ONE - cake recipe that calls for coffee, and this recipe is more of a dessert-cake than a breakfast-cake. Calling all coffee-containing coffee cake recipes out there! I have a friend for you!
I have a "thing" with giving foods a name that doesn't really... well, fit their appearance or taste or texture or other important component. Like, those three-ingredient "cookies" that were a hit on Pinterest a few years ago - just bananas, oats, and an egg or two (chocolate chips are optional) - those are barely cookies. Those are, in my opinion, little drops of dense, chewy baked banana with dry oats tossed in. Not cookies. Baked sweet potato "fries" are not fries - they are not, after all, fried. They're baked. It's in the name!
Anyway, it's not that big of a deal, but it's a "thing" in my mind and therefore influences heavily what I put out here. That being said, you will not chewy baked circles of mashed banana or "bread" made from ground up almonds here. I don't really see anything "wrong" with making those types of paleo, gluten-free, refined-sugar-free, etc. recipes, I just don't think they should be grouped in with the classics.
I DIGRESS. Moral of the story here is that I made coffee cake and it has actual coffee in it and tastes really good with a warm cup of coffee and slathered with nut butter or yogurt or both. Oh, and I left off the icing most coffee cakes come elegantly drizzled with because the crumble is sweet enough for my tastebuds and I'd rather top a slice of this cake with some thick yogurt or nut butter (highly recommend) than more sweetness. If you do want an icing, whisk some powdered sugar with milk ORRRR try this one (personal favorite!).
Makes 1 loaf, about 8 thick slices
For the cake:
1 1/4 cup whole-wheat flour (can sub other with varied results)
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1/3 cup sugar (I use coconut sugar)
3 tbsp. almond butter
1/4 cup strong coffee
1/3 cup mashed banana
1 tsp. vanilla extract
Oil or butter for greasing
For the streusel:
1/3 cup whole-wheat flour
1/4 cup chopped pecans
2 tbsp. sugar
1 tbsp. maple syrup
1 tbsp. butter
1/2 tbsp. cinnamon
A pinch of sea salt
- Preheat oven to 350 F and oil or butter a loaf pan.
- Stir together the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl and set aside.
- Whisk the eggs in a medium-size bowl and add in the sugar, vanilla, almond butter, and coffee. Whisk again and slowly pour into the dry ingredients. Stir to combine and remove any lumps of flour.
- In separate bowl, stir together the streusel ingredients and set aside.
- Pour half the cake batter into the loaf pan and top with half the streusel mixture. Pour in the rest of the batter and top with the rest of the streusel.
- Bake for 25-27 minutes, or until golden-brown on top and toothpick-test-approved.
- Cool completely (a must!) before slicing. Serve with coffee and yogurt, nut butter, or icing.
- Refrigerate leftovers in an airtight container for up to a week.