Sunday, March 22, 2009

A Disappointing Coffee Cake

I usually like Carole Walter's recipes a lot, and I was thrilled when Fine Cooking ran one of her coffee cake recipes in their holiday issue last year. I didn't make it then, but had it in the back of my mind. When I needed to make something for a skating-club board meeting last weekend, I decided to give this coffee cake a try. The recipe has three variations, so I went with the chocolate version.

Although I ended up liking aspects of the cake, I can't say that I loved it overall. Preparing this cake requires a major kitchen throwdown, calling into use the following gear:

• a saucepan for preparing struesel
• a bowl for combining struesel ingredients
• a bowl for combining filling ingredients
• a food processor for preparing the filling
• the KitchenAid, of course
• many measuring cups and spoons
• other pieces of measuring equipment
• the oven (natch)

After the cake batter is prepared, there's a fairly elaborate cake-assembly process involving layers of batter alternated with layers of filling, all topped off with struesel and a final application of filling — reminiscent of a babka, almost, I guess. I think it took me longer to get the cake ready to go in the oven than it took to bake it. I also didn't have the amount of batter I'd believed I would have to be able to assemble the cake according to the instructions.

After all that work, the final result was disappointing. The middle two layers of the cake were gummy — reminiscent of a bread pudding, I guess. (And that is not to disparage bread pudding, but I wanted a coffee cake.) I would like to say that I will try this one again, but I'm not so sure. Maybe. The top part was excellent, especially the struesel. In all, though, I felt underwhelmed.

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