Saturday, January 21, 2012

Cream Cheese Coffee Cake

Cream Cheese Coffee Cake - made January 14, 2012 from Cook's Illustrated Holiday Baking 2011 by Christopher Kimball (book #183)

This looks deceptively done but inside lurks overly gooey filling about to flood out
This is another booklet I got for Christmas that adds to my baking book collection so it counts in my baking challenge.  I love the stuff from Cook's Illustrated because the articles leading up to the recipes are really interesting as the testers go through various trial and error to come up with the perfect recipe.  For this one, the author was trying to create a combination coffee cake and cream cheese pastry so that you don't have to necessarily choose between a coffee cake and a Danish for breakfast.  I go for coffee cake every time since I don't like the cream cheese filling in Danishes and I rarely have it for breakfast but I thought I'd give this a try anyway.  More importantly I had sour cream, lemons and cream cheese to use up and this recipe used all three so it was perfect to try out.

This is reminiscent of the Lemon Ripple Crunch Cake (take 1) I've blogged about before - it's a cake with a custard-type filling and a sugar crunch topping.  Also like the Lemon Ripple Crunch Cake (take 2), I made the same mistake as before in that I didn't bake it long enough, cut it too soon before the filling had really set and warm liquid filling came gushing out along with a bit of raw cake batter.  Not pretty.  I ended up putting it back in the oven to bake some more and while the results were not eye-catching to behold (unless you want to classify it in the cake wreck category), the taste held up really well.  The cake part wasn't overbaked like I feared it would be with a second baking and the filling remained soft but not liquid.  It was more like a firm custard.  If you like cream cheese and custard-type desserts, this is a pretty good cake to make.  Although you might want to skip my mistake and just make sure it bakes long enough the first time and to let it cool enough for the filling to set.  I ended up salvaging the cake by slicing it and only giving away the decent-looking slices.  I deliberately didn't take a picture of the cake-wreck look as that would've been too embarrassing to have documented.

Lemon-Sugar Almond Topping
¼ cup sugar
1 ½ teaspoons freshly grated lemon zest
½ cup sliced almonds (which I omitted because I don't like nuts in my cakes)

2 ¼ cups (11 ¼ ounces) all-purpose flour
1 1/8 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/8 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
10 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened but still cool
1 cup plus 7 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest plus 4 teaspoons juice (1 to 2 lemons)
4 large eggs
5 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 ¼ cups sour cream
8 ounces cream cheese, softened

1. For the topping: Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350°F. Stir together sugar and lemon zest in small bowl until combined and sugar is moistened. Stir in almonds; set aside.
2. For the cake: spray 10-inch tube pan with vegetable oil spray. Whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together in medium bowl; set aside. In stand mixer fitted with paddle, beat butter, 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar, and lemon zest together on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes, scraping down sides and bottom of bowl with rubber spatula. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition, about 20 seconds, and scraping down beater and sides of bowl as necessary. Add 4 teaspoons vanilla and mix to combine. Reduce speed to low and add one-third of flour mixture, followed by half of sour cream, mixing until incorporated after each addition, 5 to 10 seconds. Repeat, using half of remaining flour mixture and all of remaining sour cream. Scrape bowl and add remaining flour mixture; mix on low speed until batter is thoroughly combined, about 10 seconds. Remove bowl from mixer and fold batter once or twice with rubber spatula to incorporate any remaining flour.
3. Reserve 1 ¼ cups batter and set aside. Spoon remaining batter into prepared pan and smooth top. Return now-empty bowl to mixer and beat together cream cheese, remaining 5 tablespoons sugar, lemon juice and remaining 1 teaspoon vanilla on medium speed until smooth and slightly lightened, about 1 minute. Add ¼ cup reserved batter and mix until incorporated. Spoon cheese filling mixture evenly over batter, keeping filling about 1 inch from edges of pan; smooth top. Spread remaining 1 cup reserved batter over filling and smooth top. With butter knife or offset spatula, gently swirl filling into batter using figure-8 motion, being careful not to drag filling to bottom or edges of the pan. Firmly tap pan on counter 2 or 3 times to dislodge any bubbles. Sprinkle lemon sugar-almond topping evenly over batter and gently press into batter to adhere.
4. Bake until top is golden and just firm, and long skewer inserted into cake comes out clean (skewer will be wet if inserted into cheese filling), 45 to 50 minutes. Remove pan from oven and firmly tap on counter 2 or 3 times (top of cake may sink slightly). Cool cake in pan on wire rack for 1 hour. Gently invert cake onto rimmed baking sheet (cake will be topping side down); remove tube pan, place wire rack on top of cake, and invert cake sugar side up. Cool to room temperature, about 1 ½ hours. Cut into slices and serve.

Linked to Sweet Tooth Friday


  1. This looks amazing!!! I've been having a look around your blog and I've decided to become a follower :) Can't wait to see what you make next!

  2. This looks delish!! can't wait to have time to check out the whole blog. I subscribed with my email.=)

    1. Thanks for subscribing - hope you enjoy the recipes!

  3. How do you just print the recipe? It looks amazing and would like to try it.

    1. So sorry but I don't have a printable version directly from the blog. You can always copy and paste into a word document though or if you want to send me your email address, I'll email you the soft copy that can be printed.


    1. Always love to hear that - glad you enjoyed it and thanks for letting me know!