Cinnamon Pecan Streusel Coffee Cake is a rich, moist, tender cake with a satisfying crunch from the streusel topping. And an absolute delight to make and so easy that my seven-year-old son baked it all by himself.
I love streusel coffee cakes. Love them over cream filled ones. I read somewhere that a good coffee cake recipe is like an old friend, always ready to welcome you. And that is so true. While it looks simple, all seemingly simple creations also show the flaws quite easily. So they have to be crafted carefully.
Coffee Cake obsession dates back to 17-century Europe to Scandinavian and German bakers. The Germans called the crumb cake Streuselkuchen. Similar to tea cakes in England, these cakes are eaten with a drink of coffee during a break, a coffee break.
There are different kinds of coffee cake – the yeasted kind with a sweet cheese or fruit filling, the streusel topping, like the one in this recipe and pure crumb cakes that have a rich butter crumb. They are all delicious and how you choose them depends on your mood.
I wish I could lay claim to this beautiful recipe but I did not create it. No, this recipe is from Cooks Illustrated magazine. Their recipe is made in the food processor but I used my kitchen mixer.
I was reading the magazine one morning when my son came along and said, “Mom, can I help you make anything?” Christmas holidays and my daughter was still sleeping, so he was out of a playmate for a while. Hence, the appeal to “help”.
I said, “Do you want to bake a cake?” He said, “On my own?” I said, “Why not?”
I gave him the magazine with the recipe, kept all the ingredients on the counter and sat on the bar stool on the other side of my kitchen island with my tea.
He has helped me when baking but this was the first time that I actually let him do everything on his own. I thought I might have to help him through it, but except for separating the eggs and lining the cake pan with parchment paper, he did everything on his own. I was surprised and yes, glowing with motherly pride. He is only seven.
This recipe is that easy, including the streusel topping. It was a fun project. And the cake! Oh my God, the cake though – rich, moist with a perfect crumb and the streusel gave that just right crunch. It was absolutely delicious and yes, PERFECT!!!
Notes from Cooks Illustrated
- Reverse Creaming also called “waterproofing” – Rather than creaming the butter and sugar together like in most cake recipes, you work the butter into the flour, like for pie dough to resemble a sandy texture. This helps limit the gluten formation and guarantees a soft, tender crumb.
- The viscosity of the batter – Increasing the flour quantity firms the batter up to keep the streusel from sinking in the center.
- DO NOT poke the center of the cake to check for doneness. First, shake the pan gently to see if the cake jiggles. If it does, then it needs to bake more. If it doesn’t, then poke the center of the cake with a toothpick to check if the cake is done.
- Weighing the ingredients gives you much better results.
My variation to the original recipe
I did not change it too much.
- Increased the amount of Milk to 1 Cup instead of 3/4 Cup as I felt the batter was too thick
- I did not add Cinnamon to the cake batter only the streusel.
Now Lets Bake!!!
A rich, moist Coffee Cake with a perfect crumb and that just right crunch. Perfect with coffee or an after-dinner treat
- 125 grams Pecans approx 1 Cup
- 67 grams Dark Brown Sugar approx 1/3 Cup
- 75 grams All Purpose Flour approx 1/2 Cup
- 3/4 teaspoon Cinnamon ground
- 56 grams Butter, unsalted, melted and cooled approx 4 Tablespoon
- 1 teaspoon Water helps bind the streusel to the cake
- 237 grams All Purpose Flour approx 1 2/3 Cup
- 200 grams Sugar approx 1 Cup
- 1 teaspoon Baking Powder
- 1/2 teaspoon Baking Soda
- 1 teaspoon Salt
- 99 grams Butter, unsalted approx 7 Tablespoon
- 230 grams Whole Milk approx 1 cup (liquid measure)
- 1 large Egg
- 1 large Egg Yolk
- 1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
Process the pecans and sugar in the food processor till they are finely ground (You can also chop the nuts finely and mix with the brown sugar). Add flour, cinnamon, and salt. Pulse or mix to combine. Add melted butter, water and combine again. The streusel should be crumbly and slightly moist. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.
Preheat the oven to 350º F. Adjust the oven rack to the lower-middle position.
Grease and flour a 9 inch round springform cake pan and line the bottom with parchment paper. I do this extra step for butter cakes to avoid getting the cake stuck to the bottom. Place on a rimmed baking sheet.
Combine the flour, sugar, salt, cinnamon, baking powder and baking soda. Add butter.
Food Processor - Pulse until very small pieces but visible pieces of the butter remain in the flour mixture, about 5 seconds. Add milk, egg, egg yolk and vanilla until the dry ingredients are moistened. Scrape down the sides and pulse to combine. Transfer to the cake pan and smooth with a rubber spatula.
Kitchen Mixer - Use the paddle attachment and stir at medium speed till very small pieces but visible pieces of the butter remain in the flour mixture. Beat the egg and egg yolk together just to combine and add to the flour and butter mixture. Add milk and vanilla and stir to combine. Transfer to the cake pan and smooth with a rubber spatula.
The batter will be thick. Be sure to use a silicone spatula to scrape all the batter into the cake pan.
Starting at the edges of the pan, sprinkle streusel in an even layer over the batter.
Bake for 40-55 minutes. Check at 40 minutes first by shaking the cake pan gently to see if the batter is still jiggly. If it is, then bake for 10 minutes more. DO NOT insert a toothpick to check. If the cake is firm, then check with the toothpick/skewer inserted into the center of the cake. The toothpick should come away clean. The cake is done.
Cool completely for 2 hours. DO NOT SKIP THIS STEP. The cake is still cooking even though it is out of the oven and needs the cooling time to bind the ingredients together.
After it is completely cool, release the cake from the springform. Place a plate inverted over the cake and flip it in one quick motion. Remove the parchment paper. Place the serving platter inverted over the cake (the bottom side is up now) and flip it back quickly, right side up.
Dust with powdered sugar. Using a serrated knife, cut the cake into wedges and serve.