Coffee Cake with Brown Butter Streusel (yeast coffee cake)
Mix between American, New York-style, big crumb coffee cake and Polish yeast cake. Beautiful, soft texture of buttery dough produces the fluffiest of cakes (yes-cakes!). The crumb is prepared using brown butter for nutty-buttery flavour, spiced with cinnamon and sweetened with a mix of brown and caster sugars.
Forget the standard bread dough consistency. In this recipe we are going back to traditional Polish yeast cakes. Dough texture is sticky but shiny and elastic - more of a cake batter than a bread dough consistency. The cake gets its texture thanks to high hydration, the use of sour cream, aerated eggs (beaten with sugar until pale and fluffy) and short bursts of kneading. After initial kneading the dough is mixed/patted vertically using spoon (tablespoon or wooden spoon) or by hand. If you are using bread machine - use machine for initial mixing but then, to aerate the dough, use tablespoon or knead by hand. 'Aerating’ takes 1 minute each time (and is done 3 times, 30minutes in-between each, super quick, action). This is done to energise the yeast (and degas) and to aerate the dough. The dough here is far less demanding than bread, brioche or babka doughs.
If you are a fan of soft texture - bake the cake with streusel only. If you love sugar and spice and everything nice - go with the filling. This cake goes beautifully with cinnamon sugar, nuts and raisins in the middle (included in the recipe) OR with your favourite seedless jam.
If you want to go with the filling - divide batter in half. Spread first half at the bottom of the baking tin (even out by hand), spread the filling (included in the recipe). For the top layer - place tablespoons of dough on top and join pieces by hand to cover the filling (finicky - but quick, one minute job). It does not have to be perfect (and won’t be!). Depending on how you will patch the cake it may form little hills when baking - that’s ok and don’t worry, the cake will bake thoroughly. You are not rolling out the dough, so it’s natural that in some places the dough may be thicker and puff up a bit more.
When baked, leave the cake to cool at room temperature (avoid draft). This cake does not like excessive handling and temperature changes straight after baking. Let rest for 1 hour at room temperature before serving (for the texture to set). The cake without the filling keeps fresh for about 3 days (2 days if filling is used) - cover with dry kitchen towel and store at room temperature.
Coffee Cake with Brown Butter Streusel Recipe (yeast coffee cake)
Yield: 20 servings
Time: 30min prep +1hr 30min (1st proof, 3xaerate) + 10min (shape) + 40min (2nd proof) + 45-50min baking
Tin: 22cmx33cm or 2x10cmx20cm loaf tin (2lb)
For yeast proofing:
- 300ml full-fat milk
- 1 Tbsp (15g) sugar
- 2 Tbsp (20g) all-purpose flour
- 3 tsps (9g) active dry yeast or 35g active bulk dry yeast
For the dough:
- 1 large egg, room temperature
- 2 egg yolks from large eggs, room temperature
- 120g caster sugar
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 450g all-purpose flour, sifted
- 115g butter, melted and lukewarm
- 75g sour cream, room temperature
For brown butter streusel:
- 225g all-purpose flour, sifted
- 100g light brown sugar
- 80g caster sugar
- 1 Tbsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp nutmeg
- 1/2 tsp coarse sea salt (or 1/4 tsp table salt)
- 227g unsalted butter
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
For the filling (optional):
- 125g light brown sugar
- 1/4 tsp coarse sea salt (1/8 tsp table salt)
- 1 Tbsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp dutch cocoa (optional, used to bring out the colour)
- 2 Tbsps butter (30g), melted
- 125g pecans or walnuts, finely or coarsely chopped
- 3 Tbsps (45g) soft raisins, finely chopped
- OR 150g of your favourite seedless jam
1. Proof the yeast: In a small pot mix milk, flour and sugar. Warm up the mixture to 38-40C making sure sugar is fully dissolved. Add yeast to the mixture and stir briefly. Cover with cling film or dry kitchen towel and move to a warm place. After 15 minutes you should see the mixture foaming/bubbling up. If you don’t, repeat the step (the temperature might have been too high/too low, check BBE on yeast).
2. Prepare the dough: In a small pot melt butter and set aside to cool (you will use lukewarm). Beat 1 egg and 2 egg yolks with sugar and salt until pale and fluffy (3-4 minutes at high speed, whisk attachment). Add proofed yeast and half of sifted flour and knead for 1 minute (medium speed if using stand mixer, dough hook attachment). Then add remaining flour and knead for about 4-5 minutes - the dough will be stiff, sticky but after 4 minutes should start detaching from sides of the bowl. Cover with dry kitchen towel and let rest for 15 minutes. After that time add lukewarm melted butter and sour cream - knead for about 7-10 minutes (on medium) until the dough becomes light and puffy (and still sticky - don't add more flour). Cover the dough with dry kitchen towel and let rest for 30 minutes. After that time, using spoon or by hand, aerate the batter - vertically pat the dough remembering to rotate the bowl every so often to aerate from every side. It should be quick - 1 minute job. You will aerate the dough 3 times in 1hr 30min, in 30min intervals.
3. Shape: Line the baking tin with parchment paper, grease sides and bottom with butter. Transfer the cake batter and even out (wet your hand and even out or use spoon). If you are baking with the filling: mix sugar with cinnamon, nutmeg, dutch cocoa, salt, melted butter, pecans and raisins. Divide the dough in half. Line the bottom of the tin with 1st half - the dough will be sticky but fairly easy to work with. Apply the topping. Spread 2nd half of the batter on top - place Tablespoons of batter in few places and combine with hands. Cover with dry kitchen towel and let rest for 40 minutes.
4. Prepare brown butter streusel: Mix flour with light brown sugar, caster sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt. In a medium pot melt butter and cook for some 10-12 minutes over medium heat until browned. Stir occasionally not to burn. After some 8-10 minutes the butter will become silent - sign that solids are starting to cook, wait another 1-2 minutes (solids should reach golden brown colour when done). Take off the heat and when cooled, sift or strain leaving out most of the solids - you should get about 180g of brown butter. Add to the rest of ingredients and stir until crumbly texture is formed (smell it - ! :). 20 minutes before baking apply the streusel on top of the cake, cover and let rest, preheat oven to 180C (165C fan forced).
5. Bake at 180C for 45-50 minutes (full 50min with the filling, 40-45min without). When baked, remove from the oven and let the cake cool at room temperature for 1 hour before serving. When cooled, cover with dry kitchen towel and store at room temperature.
1. Before baking this coffee cake you may find it helpful to read this post on Baking with Yeast.