If you came from a house where your mom made a lot of her own baked goods and certainly would never deign to buy pre-made unhealthy snacks like ring dings or yodels except on the rarest of occasions when she faltered due to the intense whining of her young'uns, you might run the risk of raising a slightly food snobby daughter. A daughter who was kind of horrified to discover that her boyfriend/eventual husband regularly consumed those little plastic-wrapped artificially-ingredient-filled coffee cakes and actually thought that they were "really good". A daughter who's made it her life's mission to find her own homemade healthier coffee cake version that would satisfactorily remind the culinarily misguided husband of those pre-packaged goodies he'd been forced to give up long ago when he said "I do". Ok, I think I'll stop talking in the third person now (it's getting kind of exhausting) and say that after 20 something years I've finally found a worthy replacement. My husband thinks that this version tastes just like those little coffee cakes of yesteryear!! I think this coffeecake tastes a billion times better but in the interest of marital harmony, I'll let him have the last word and maybe the last bite too since he loves it so much!!
As you can imagine in order to fulfill my quest, I've made a lot of coffeecakes in my day and many of them have been good, but some he's found too dense, others too rich and buttery, some I've found just too labor intensive to justify the end result and so no luck until now. Who knew that what I really needed to do was lighten things up?!! Yep, that's right, in addition to being spot on in taste and texture to those long-ago little coffeecakes, this version is low in fat and calories. One serving is only about 200 calories and the entire cake only uses 4 tablespoons of butter and that's including the streusel topping! And there's a good amount of plain low-fat yogurt in it too! So you know what that means, right? You can eat this for breakfast even on a weekday morning and not feel all that guilty!!
And it's easy to make--the dry ingredients get mixed together, the wet ingredients get mixed together and then you mix the dry and wet ingredients together, pour the batter into a pan, sprinkle with the cinnamon-enhanced crumble and bake. Your house will smell terrific!
It's simple enough to make just because you feel like it, but delicious enough to serve to guests for a special brunch. The cake is tender and light and the crumb topping adds just the right amount of crunch and cinnamon-y goodness to balance everything out. You'd never guess that this was a lightened up version but because it's light it would be perfect for lazy summer mornings out on the patio (we can dream, can't we?). I promise you this will be devoured!
And while little squares of this are nice if you really want to make the large child in your life happy, you can recapture the spirit of those little cakes and use a round biscuit cutter to cut out circular shapes. Ah, nostalgia!
My Husband's Favorite Coffeecake
Makes about 12 servings (although in our house, 2 or 3 people can gobble down the whole thing in about an hour)
Prep Time: 15-20 minutes; Bake Time: 35-40 minutes
Nonstick baking spray with flour
1 1/2 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cake flour
3/4 cup light brown sugar packed, divided
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature, plus 1 tablespoon butter melted and cooled slightly
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup plain low-fat yogurt
1. Make sure rack is in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350ºF. Spray and 8-inch square baking pan with baking spray with flour in it and set aside.
2. Place the flour, cake flour, 1/2 cup of the brown sugar, salt, baking powder and soda in a medium bowl and whisk together well. Measure out 1/4 cup of the mixture and place it in a small bowl. Add the remaining 1/4 cup brown sugar and the cinnamon and mix well. Set aside.
3. Using an electric mixer, beat the 3 tablespoons butter and the granulated sugar together on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, for about 3-5 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed with a rubber spatula. Add the eggs one at a time and beat well after each addition.
4. Add in about 1/3 of the flour mixture from the larger bowl and beat on low speed just until incorporated. Then add the vanilla and about 1/3 of the yogurt, mixing on low speed and scraping down the bowl as needed. In two more additions, alternate adding in the flour mixture and yogurt, only beating until just incorporated. Scrape the batter into the pan and smooth the top.
5. Add the melted butter into the cinnamon/brown sugar mixture in the small bowl and toss it with a fork to create a crumb. Sprinkle this over the cake as evenly as possible.
6. Bake for about 35-40 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through the baking time, until the crumb top is golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out with just a few crumbs attached. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool completely before serving.
7. Cake can be made 1 day ahead and left uncut but covered at room temperature. Leftovers can be stored well wrapped at room temperature for 3-4 days.
Note: Recipe adapted from The Best Light Recipe by the Editors of Cook's Illustrated.