In case you've ever wondered why I seem to have so much time to bake and blog about what I'm baking and thought, "Doesn't this woman ever work??", wonder no more. I've been taking an extended sabbatical since I left my job late last year. Besides traveling, walking literally miles and miles, exercising, baking, gardening and reading everything I can get my hands on from my local library, I have been looking for a job...sort of. Okay, I haven't been looking that hard really since I was in no hurry to go back to work and was fully prepared to enjoy all of 2011 at my leisure. But sometimes you just find the right opportunity or it finds you. Or both. I just accepted a job offer last Friday and will be heading back to work in a little over a week. It's been an awesome 6 months but alas, I can't retire quite yet so it's back to work I go.
In addition to getting all the normal pesky errands and chores taken care of (take in the car for service, get some pants tailored, get the batteries replaced in my watch, weed the garden....again, declutter and do a Goodwill dropoff, laundry, cleaning, yada yada) and fun stuff of cramming in dinners and lunches with friends, I have 8 days of madly baking left! Not that I won't be baking for my new office and new coworkers once I start working again but I won't have the time I do now to experiment in my kitchen and further my baking challenge. So it's game on this week. I'll have to pace my postings or else I'll end up posting 2-3 times a day for a week then nothing for the first few weeks at work. But let's see how much I can bake this week. I've already got lunches and dinners planned with friends that will entail goodie bags and I've given my former coworkers a heads up that I'll be doing my last baking drop off to them next week. Then I switch allegiance to the new company :).
First in the line up is Espresso Coffee Cake. I only made a half recipe and baked it in an 8 x 8" pan. Normally when you think of coffee cake, you think of streusel on top of a vanilla butter cake. This is a little different in that it doesn't have streusel but it does have an espresso glaze atop an espresso and vanilla cake. As you can tell from the picture, it rose up and cracked straight down the middle so the glaze rushed into that space. Aside from that though, this was pretty good cake. It had the right texture and was moist. The glaze wasn't too thick which, as a non-frosting person, I like. Surprisingly the espresso taste wasn't that strong, considering how much espresso is actually in it. I don't like or drink coffee but I like coffee-flavored baked goods so this was just right for me.
1 ½ cups unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups sugar
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
4 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
2 cups sour cream
¼ cup instant espresso powder
2 tablespoons hot water
1 tablespoon instant espresso powder
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 cups powdered sugar
3 tablespoons milk
1. Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Grease a 9 x 13” pan; set aside.
2. To prepare the cake, place the butter and sugar in the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat on high speed, scraping down the sides of the bowl often until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition, followed by the vanilla. Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add about half of the flour mixture to the butter mixture and mix well. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, add about half of the sour cream and mix well. Add the remaining dry ingredients followed by the remaining sour cream, scraping down the sides of the bowl and mixing well after each addition. Combine the instant espresso powder and hot water in a medium bowl, add about a third of the batter, and mix well. Spread about half of the plain batter in the prepared pan. Top with the espresso batter, and then cover with the remaining plain batter. Bake until the cake slowly springs back when touched lightly in the center, about 45 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes before glazing.
3. To prepare the glaze, dissolve the instant espresso powder in the vanilla extract. Place the powdered sugar in a bowl, add the espresso mixture and the milk, and mix well. (If it’s too thick, add a bit more milk.) Pour the glaze over the cake and spread it out to the edges. Serve warm.