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~ "Come over for some coffee and cake." Coffeecake: Cinnamon-Orange, Chocolate-Chip, Pecan-Streusel ~

PICT2755During the 1950's and 60's, if you were a housewife or a stay-at-home mom, once you got your kids off to school and/or your husband off to work, you most likely participated in a daily, weekly or occasional mid-morning coffee break with neighborhood friends, or, a "coffee klatch".  The term "coffee klatch" comes from the German word "kaffeeklatsch", meaning "coffee chat" or a casual gathering for sharing coffee and conversation with close confidants.  Literally translated: "kaffee" = coffee, and, "klatsch" = gossip.  For women then and now, I like to think of this social activity as kitchen therapy, and, in today's super-busy world, almost nothing sounds more relaxing to me than a neighborly, invitation for coffee and cake... how cozy!

I Love Coffeecake.  Simple, Straightforward & Sweet.

00041261253064_fullI grew up in the Lehigh Valley region of Eastern Pennsylvania.  Because of the large Pennsylvania Dutch influence in this area, I am no stranger to coffeecake.  Everybody bakes them, eats them and loves them.  There are many versions, but in this locale, almost all coffeecakes are rich buttercakes topped with a streusel of some sort.  The term "Dutch" is slang for the German word "Deutsch", so, when we say Pennsylvania Dutch, we mean Deutsch and are crediting the German people for their delicious recipes!

698px-Drakes-Coffee-CakeBesides eating lots of homemade coffeecake, I also grew up during the heyday of the Drake's empire. Drake's (now owned by Hostess Brands) has been providing the Northeastern United States with snack-sized coffeecakes for over a century.  In New Jersey and Pennsylvania, they compete head-to-head with Tastykake.  Back in my elementary school days, my Barbie lunch box usually contained one of my two favorite things for dessert:  a small, round Drake's coffeecake, or, a rectangular, snack-sized, lemon pudding-filled Tastykake pie!

A PICT2738 bit about coffeecake: Coffeecakes are rich, sweet, cake-like breads which are usually eaten for breakfast or brunch.  While they are rich with butter and eggs, they are considerably less sweet than a standard cake, which is why they are perfect fare for breakfast or brunch.  Some are made with yeast, but those made with baking soda and/or baking powder, which take less time to prepare and fall into the category of "quick" coffeecakes, are just as delicious.  The batter is often made with with buttermilk, cream cheese, sour cream or yogurt, which adds a lovely tang. They often contain fresh or dried fruit, jam, preserves, and, sometimes nuts, which adds even more delicious taste and texture.  They can be served unembellished, or, with a light dusting of confectioners' sugar, glazed, frosted, or topped with streusel.  They can be round, square, thick or thin, and, eaten at room temperature or slightly warm!

PICT2731For the streusel topping:

1/2  cup coarsely chopped pecans

1/4  cup sugar

1  tablespoon ground cinnamon

For the "dry" portion of the coffeecake batter:

2 1/4  cups unbleached all-purpose flour

1  tablespoon ground cinnamon

1  teaspoon baking powder

1  teaspoon baking soda

For the "wet" portion of the coffeecake batter:

4  ounces salted butter, at room temperature, very soft (1 stick)

8  ounces cream cheese, at room temperature, very soft

2  extra-large eggs, at room temperature

1 1/4  cups sugar

1 1/2  teaspoons pure orange extract, not imitation

1 1/2  teaspoons pure vanilla extract, not imitation

1/4  cup whole milk

1  12-ounce bag, miniature-sized, semi-sweet, chocolate chips (about 2 cups)

no-stick cooking spray, for preparing pan

PICT2733~ Step 1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray inside of 8 1/2"-9" springform pan with no-stick spray.

~ Step 2.  Prepare the streusel topping by combining the sugar, cinnamon, and chopped pecans in a small bowl.  Set aside.

PICT2730~ Step 3.  In a large mixing bowl, combine the "dry" ingredients: the flour, cinnamon, baking powder and baking soda.  Set aside.

PICT2736 PICT2732~ Step 4.  In a medium mixing bowl, starting on low speed of electric mixer, then increasing speed to high, cream together the butter, cream cheese, eggs, sugar and both extracts, about 30 seconds on low and 1 minute of high-speed mixing.  Lower the mixer speed and fold in the milk.

PICT2743~ Step 5.  Using a large rubber spatula, fold the chocolate chips into the cream cheese mixture.

PICT2748~ Step 6. Add and fold this "wet" mixture into the "dry" flour mixture, mixing until the dry ingredients are just moistened yet thoroughly combined.  Do not over mix.  The batter will be thick, spoonable and spreadable.

PICT2749~ Step 7.  Transfer the batter to prepared pan.  Using the spatula smooth the top.  On the countertop, give the pan a few vigorous shakes and a tap or two, to ensure the batter is evenly distributed.

PICT2751~ Step 8. Sprinkle the streusel topping over the batter. Some cinnamon and sugar will remain in the bottom of the bowl. Sprinkle it evenly over the top too.

PICT2734 PICT2752~ Step 9. Bake on center rack of preheated 350 degree oven for 45 minutes.  At this point, loosely lay a piece of aluminum foil over the top of the pan to prevent the nuts from burning.  Continue to bake, 5-10 additional minutes, or, until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean.  



~ Step 10.  Remove from oven and place on a cooling rack for 15-20 minutes prior to removing sides from pan for further cooling, slicing and serving (1 1/2-2 hours of cooling for slightly warm cake, or, 3+ hours for room temperature). 

Note:  As this coffeecake cools, the center is going to sink a bit.  This is normal, so don't panic.  That's going to be the moist, chocolate-y center!

PICT2731"Come over for some coffee and cake."  Coffeecake:  Cinnamon-Orange, Chocolate-Chip, Pecan Streusel:  Recipe yields 1, 8" round cake, or, 10-12 servings.

Special Equipment List:  8 1/2"-9" springform pan; cutting board; chef's knife; hand-held electric mixer; large rubber spatula; aluminum foil; cake tester or toothpick; cooling rack 

6a0120a8551282970b0147e3bd8712970b-800wiCook's Note:  For another reason to invite a few friends over for coffee and cake, click into Category 6 to get my PA Dutch recipe for ~ Nana's Applesauce-Oatmeal-Raisin-Walnut Cake ~!

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2012)


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