Coffee Coffee Cake

Season: All | Active Time: 50 minutes | Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes | Difficulty: 2 (Easy)

This coffee-flavored cake is like eating a bite of good cake with a sip of milky coffee—a little bitter, a little sweet, and the right amount of rich. Coffee is one of my favorite flavors in the world and could stand to find its way into more desserts, in my opinion. It has a subtle presence in this very tender, perfect-any-time-of-day cake, lending some floral and pleasantly bitter flavors in a way that both enhances and balances it. You don’t need a strong cup of coffee with it, but it’s still a good idea.

Serves 15 to 20

Special Equipment: 13 × 9-inch pan (preferably metal), stand mixer

Butter for the pan

Coffee Ribbon

3 tablespoons packed light brown sugar

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1 tablespoon instant coffee granules

Coffee Crumb Topping

1¼ cups all-purpose flour (5.6 oz / 160g)

½ cup packed light brown sugar (3.5 oz / 100g)

2 teaspoons instant coffee granules

¾ teaspoon ground cardamom

¼ teaspoon Diamond Crystal kosher salt

1 stick unsalted butter (4 oz / 113g), cut into pieces, at room temperature

Cake

3½ cups all-purpose flour (16 oz / 455g)

2½ teaspoons baking powder (0.35 oz / 10g)

1½ teaspoons Diamond Crystal kosher salt (0.16 oz / 6g)

½ teaspoon baking soda

⅔ cup sour cream (6 oz / 170g)

½ cup strong brewed coffee (4 oz / 113g)

1 tablespoon instant coffee granules

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

12 tablespoons unsalted butter (6 oz / 170g), at room temperature

¼ cup neutral oil, such as vegetable or grapeseed (2 oz / 57g)

1 cup granulated sugar (7 oz / 200g)

¾ cup packed light brown sugar (5.3 oz / 150g)

4 large eggs (7 oz / 200g), at room temperature

Preheat the oven and prepare the pan: Generously butter the bottom and sides of a 13 × 9-inch pan and set aside. Arrange an oven rack in the center position and preheat the oven to 350°F.

Make the coffee ribbon: In a small bowl, toss together the brown sugar, cinnamon, and instant coffee. Set the coffee ribbon mixture aside.

Make the coffee crumb topping: In a medium bowl, toss together the flour, brown sugar, coffee granules, cardamom, and salt. Add the butter and toss to coat, then use your fingertips to smash the butter into the dry ingredients until no visible bits of butter remain and the mixture is crumbly but holds together when squeezed. Set the crumb topping aside.

Combine the dry ingredients: In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, and baking soda to combine and set aside.

Combine the wet ingredients: In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the sour cream, brewed coffee, instant coffee granules, and vanilla until smooth and set aside.

Cream the butter, oil, and sugars: In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter, oil, granulated sugar, and brown sugar on low just until smooth, then increase the speed to medium-high and beat, scraping down the sides of the bowl once or twice, until the mixture is very light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.

Add the eggs: Reduce the mixer speed to medium and add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides.

Alternate the dry and wet ingredients: Add about one-third of the flour mixture and mix on low speed until the flour has almost disappeared. Add half of the sour cream mixture, beating just until incorporated, then add the remaining flour in 2 additions, alternating with the remaining sour cream mixture. When the last traces of flour disappear, stop the mixer and remove the bowl. Use a flexible spatula to scrape down the sides and fold the batter several times to make sure it’s evenly mixed.

Assemble the cake: Scrape half of the batter into the prepared pan and smooth it into an even layer, working it into the corners. Sprinkle the coffee ribbon mixture all across the batter, trying to cover every bit of surface area. Dollop the remaining batter all over, then smooth it into an even layer. Scatter the crumb topping over the batter, covering the entire surface.

Bake: Bake the cake until the top is puffed and golden brown and a cake tester or toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 40 to 45 minutes (be careful not to overbake it; the cake will still wobble in the center when a tester comes out clean). Remove the cake from the oven and let it cool completely on a wire rack. Cut into squares and serve.

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