Brewing it your way

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First Posted: 9/16/2014

There are so many wonderful accompaniments to a cold glass of milk – but what about a warm cup of coffee? Warm beverages are more and more necessary as the days grow chillier.

Though the name might lead you to think otherwise about the flavoring (and in some cases, it’s true), the coffee cake is actually a delicious pastry meant to be eaten alongside a cup o’ joe, not necessarily something that tastes like one.

Coffee cakes are sponge-like, often spiced with cinnamon and topped with fruit or nuts. I’ve found a wonderful base recipe that can be tweaked many ways according to taste, and it comes from Beth Preston of West Wyoming, who absolutely knows how to satisfy a sweet tooth.

It’s also awesome because, in an age of Pinterest and food blogs and everything online, this recipe comes on an actual recipe card. Oh, how I relished the thought of mucking it up with flour-caked hands as I baked.

For this you’ll need two-thirds cup of sugar, one-third cup of oil, one egg, a half cup of milk, two teaspoons of baking powder, a half teaspoon of salt, one and a half cups of flour, a half cup of brown sugar, a half cup of butter, and then you get to get choosy: one cup of a favorite fruit, and one cup of favorite nuts. I didn’t include nuts, but I opted for strawberries on the fruit side of things, and I diced them up.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. In a large bowl, beat together sugar, oil and egg. In a separate bowl, sift together baking powder, salt and flour. Alternately add this and the milk to the egg mixture. Mix until well blended.

Add the fruit and nuts. Blueberries, peaches and cherries, as well as walnuts, pecans and almonds are just a couple of routes you can take with this – and in any combination. This cake is a blank canvas, my friends, so have at it.

Pour the mixture into a 9-inch round pan.

For the topping, cut together one-half cup of brown sugar and one-half cup of butter. Now, I don’t know if there’s a technical way to do this, but I literally dumped both of these ingredients into a bowl, got out a butter knife, and just started slicing away until the butter chunks were tiny. Beth, I hope that was correct.

It seemed to be, as the topping to this cake was my favorite part of it. After you cut the butter and sugar together, sprinkle it atop the cake mix.

Make sure there’s some wiggle room between where the cake ends and the top of the pan, as it will rise and it’s definitely possible the whole thing could spill over. No one wants to be privy to the smell of burning.

Bake at 350 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes. Let it cool in the pan a bit before flipping out onto a plate.

Go grab that bit of java and hop to it – if you have guests, this coffee cake will be gone long before you can take your first sip.