Sunday, June 06, 2010

Peonies and Sour Cream Coffee Cake

I kind of have a love affair with this cake and these moments. First of all, cake. I love cake. I love cakes that are light and bright, angel foods blanketed in strawberries and vanilla bean whipped cream. I love cakes that are fruity, apple spice or pumpkin with cream cheese icing. I love classic vanilla with butter cream. I love dense, rich chocolate layer cakes with their deep, dark sophistication. A grand, tall coconut layer cake, what could be better? Vegetable... I crave a piece of cold, moist carrot cake with pineapple and no nuts or raisins. And morning or afternoon coffee cake is no exception.

I also adore peonies. They are my favorite flower and these pink beauties simply fill my soul with sweet enchantment. It pains me that you can only find them for a mere few weeks a year. I could be surrounded by them everyday. I don't believe it would be possible to fill my home with too many of them. I can just see it now.

Don't you want to dive head first into this round pool of rhubarb, vanilla, and cinnamon?

Although Ina didn't say to add fruit to this cake, I just couldn't help myself. I wondered what would happen if I thinly sliced up some deserving rhubarb from my sister's garden, dusted it with plenty of snowy sugar, and gingerly laid it down into the center of this cake. I also pondered whether or not to pour in the juice that formed in bottom of the rhubarb bowl, I did. This was not a mistake!

As you can see, this cake is very, very moist and tender. It starts with a solid, thick batter loaded with lots of sour cream and cake flour. It then gets layered between three rounds of buttery, brown sugar crumbs. Add fruit to the middle of leave it out. Bake it for an hour, let it cool, then drizzle it with just the right amount of maple syrup glaze. Perfumed by cinnamon and vanilla? Sign me up.

Be still my heart. If only every plate of food could be surrounded by gorgeous pink peonies. Or white ones. Or salmon toned. Though I've only seen salmon peonies online, I will find them for real. You can see the gooey, rhubarb filling practically tumbling out of this cake!

While we are nearing the end of this story, there are a few more images to take in. Told ya I would be adding a third installment to my Barefoot Contessa series here! I read one review of this cake where a viewer accused Ina of taking this recipe right from a first edition copy of the red and white checkered Betty Crocker cookbook. Of course I wouldn't dare investigate that one. I'm leaving all the glory to Ina.

I think this cake would be delicious and delightful filled with blackberries, nectarines, pears, or cherries. Just chop up about two cups or so of fruit, sweeten if necessary, and drop into the second layer of streusel filling. Citrus zests would also be nice mixed into the fruit of course, lime with blackberries, lemon with cherries, orange with rhubarb, etc. While reading the recipe reviews it was very apparent that most people recommended doubling the crumb recipe which I did. I also left out the walnuts it called for. You could add them or pecans if you wish?

Sour Cream Coffee Cake
Barefoot Contessa
serves 8-12

12 T. butter, unsalted, room temperature
1.5 C. granulated sugar
3 Lg. eggs, room temperature
1.5 tsp. vanilla
1 1/4 C. Sour Cream, room temperature
2 T. warm water (my addition)
2.5 C. Cake Flour
2 tsp. Baking Powder
1/2 tsp. Baking Soda
1/2 tsp. Salt

1/2 C. Brown Sugar
1 C. AP Flour
3 tsp. Cinnamon (or less if you're not a huge fan)
1/2 tsp. Salt
6 T. butter, cubed, cold
1.5 C. walnuts, chopped, optional

(1.5 - 3 C. Fresh fruit, sliced, optional)

1/2 C. Confectioner's Sugar
2 T. Real Maple Syrup

For the cake, grease and flour or sugar a 10' tube pan. The type you would use to make an angel food cake. You also want the pan to be aluminum, light in color, none of that dark, non-stick stuff! I also lined the bottom with wax paper (out of parchment) to ensure the beauty came out easily. Preheat the oven to 350. If your oven runs hot like mine, go down to 335. Nothing worse than over-baked, dry cake right?
Make up the streusel first so it is all ready once you've finished the batter and are ready to assemble the cake. Also prep your fruit if you are using... set both aside.
Cream together the sugar and butter until fluffy, about five minutes on medium with paddle attachment. Sift or whisk together the dry ingredients and reserve. Once butter and sugar is ready, slowly add eggs one at a time until each is incorporated. Be sure to scrape down the bowl now and then. Then add the vanilla, warm water, and sour cream and mix until smooth. Then add the flour mixture and mix on low or stir setting until JUST incorporated. Remove from mixer base and carefully use a spatula to make sure all ingredients are mixed up from the bottom of the bowl.
Place 1/3 or just under of the streusel on the bottom of the pan. Then spoon in half of the batter. It's very thick, don't be alarmed. It will still rise and bake beautifully. Then add your fruit if using, then add just over a third of the streusel. Add the rest of the batter and smooth around evenly. Then add rest of streusel filling. Bake about 1 hr, check for doneness. Let cool for 10-15 minutes in pan and carefully remove cake and set on serving dish.
Mix together the maple syrup and confectioner's sugar and drizzle in whatever artistic style you desire on top the cake. Let cool completely before covering with cake dome or lid. Then just marvel at your work and beauty of the cake. Which you will! And then dive into that pool, people! : )

A couple dozen crumbs remind us of what was.


missmallory said...

Swooning over the photos and this post. I was transported, if only for a few minutes, to your cozy home filled with pink peonies smelling of this gorgeous rhubarb coffee cake. Lovely!


Jerome said...

That is pure goodness! I can eat this one every morning, lol. Thank you the recipe :)

chrisfic said...

I'm going to try the coffee cake. I love coffee and what could be better with coffee than coffee cake. I guess that's a given. I'm glad I found your blog (thanks Mardi), I'm now getting your posts in mail via RSS! YEAH!

Mardi said...

You've done it again, Rachelle. Another over the top recipe, rhubarb and coffee cake, what could be better.

tina said...

Oh my Bestie, this sounds divine!!!! I MUST try this! I just made rhubarb strawberry jam!

Verla said...

Rachelle, you are amazing! Thank you and I've enjoyed reading your comments.

RachelleLouise said...

Miss Mallory - You know you are welcome in this 'cozy' little home any day! So glad you loved the post, you are an amazing blogger and your opinion always means a lot! xx

Jerome - Welcome to Use the Good China! Where are you reading from? I'm so glad this cake tickled your taste buds. Ina knows what she is doing! I hope you bake it up for yourself! It is a show-stopper lovely coffee cake! Stop back in again soon! : )

Chris - How do you know my lovely mother? I'm so glad you like the blog and will now get updates! : )

Mom- Thanks! You'll have to pull this recipe out for one of your entertaining moments! Thanks for sending friends over here! xoxo

Tina- Did you can or freeze your jam? Can you believe I've NEVER made jam?! I just adore freezer jam. I don't know what I'm waiting for! Strawberries are coming up here in the local patches, I might have to go for it then! You know if you visit me, I'll make this cake for you girl! xx

Auntie Verla - Thank you for commenting! What have you been cooking lately? I know you are a goddess in the kitchen! Love that Ad Hoc cookbook! : ) xoxo

chrisfic said...

Rachelle, I know your lovely mother because I was married to her cousin Ramona. You wouldn't know from my username.

RachelleLouise said...

Chris! Yes, I remember you of course! Do you enjoy cooking? I think I might remember that about you! I'm so glad to have you come through my 'doors' here! Hope life has been treating you well! : )