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Jan 22, 2018
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Posts Tagged ‘coffee cake’

By the Book: ‘Sarabeth’s Good Morning Cookbook’ by Sarabeth Levine

Friday, October 23rd, 2015

Welcome to the new By the Book, where the Sauce editors choose a monthly theme and pit cookbooks in a head-to-head battle to see who comes out on top. And the winner? We hand the champion over to you in a By the Book Facebook giveaway. This month, we’re tackling all things sweet. Last week, Chocolate Pot de Crème couldn’t stand up to the fruit-packed Blueberry Apple Pie from Pastry by Nick Malgieri. Today, it takes on Sarabeth’s Good Morning Cookbook by Sarabeth Levine.




Having brunched at Sarabeth’s on New York’s Upper East Side many mornings, I was excited to get my hands on Sarabeth Levine’s latest cookbook, Sarabeth’s Good Morning Cookbook: Breakfast, Brunch, and Baking. She’s packed 12 chapters with easy-to-follow recipes fit for novices or more experienced home cooks looking to fill their repertoire with options for everyday breakfasts to a weekend entertaining menus.

Levine walks readers through basic techniques for common but tricky recipes such as clarified butter, blintzes, omelets and even the hard-boiled egg, but she also challenges cooks to more ambitious projects like a yeast-risen Hungarian coffee cake similar to babka and streusel-encrusted French toast. I found her recipes precise and well written, and I appreciated the simple but stunning photographs. Thankfully, most ingredients are easily accessibly, and she rarely calls for any equipment not found in the standard kitchen. She also provides the ingredient weight in grams, as well as cup measurements for those of us who prefer to use a scale to take the guesswork out of measuring.

I decided to test her quintessential New York Crumb Cake. Her goal was to find the perfect proportion of cake to crumb topping, and she achieved it beautifully with a stunning crumb topping. She calls for superfine sugar in most of her baking recipes, and I think it helped the recipes stand apart. The texture was light with a fine, delicate crumb, thanks to the sour cream-based batter. Watch your baking time carefully, though – my cake was overbaked after 55 minutes. I tend to take my cakes out of the oven when a few dry crumbs appear on a toothpick, not when it comes out clean as instructed.

The Rundown
Skill level: Perfect for the beginner or advanced home cook.
This book is for: Cooks looking for basic everyday to company-ready brunch entrees.
Other recipes to try: Cranberry Cream Scones, Double Salmon Rillettes
The verdict: Levine’s classic crumb cake took down Malgieri’s blueberry and apple pie thanks to its light texture, generous cinnamon topping and buttery sour cream cake.

New York Crumb Cake
10 to 12 servings

Crumb Topping
1½ cups (213 g.) unbleached all-purpose flour
⅓ cup (65 g.) superfine sugar
⅓ cup (65 g.) packed light brown sugar
½ tsp. ground cinnamon
¼ tsp. fine sea salt
8 Tbsp. (114 g.) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract

2 cups (284 g.) unbleached all-purpose flour
1½ tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. fine sea salt
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1⅓ cups (261 g.) superfine sugar
⅔ cup (152 g.) unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch chunks, at room temperature
2 large eggs, at room temperature, beaten
1 cup (242 g.) sour cream

• Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees. Butter and flour a 9 by 9 by 2-inch cake pan and tap out the excess flour.
• To make the crumb topping: In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, superfine sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon and salt. Add the butter and vanilla and mix with your fingers until combined and crumbly. Set aside.
• Sift the flour, baking powder and salt into a medium bowl. In a small bowl, rub the vanilla into the sugar. In the bowl of a heavy-duty stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter on high speed until smooth, about 1 minute. Gradually add the sugar mixture and continue beating, scraping the sides of the bowl often with a silicone spatula, until the mixture is very light in color and texture, about 5 minutes. Gradually beat in the eggs, scraping the sides of the bowl occasionally.
• Reduce the mixer speed to low. Add the flour mixture in thirds, alternating with two additions of the sour cream, scraping the sides of the bowl and beating briefly after each addition. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan. Smooth the top with the spatula. Squeeze handfuls of the crumb topping, then break into small clumps and sprinkle the entire surface of the batter with the clumps and crumbs.
• Bake until the crumbs are golden brown and a cake tester inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, about 55 minutes.
• Cool completely in the pan on a wire rack before serving. The cake can be stored in the pan, wrapped in plastic wrap, at room temperature for up to days.

Reprinted with permission from Rizzoli Publishing

By the Book: Arthur Schwartz’s Chocolate Babka

Tuesday, September 17th, 2013


Arthur Schwartz’s Jewish Home Cooking: Yiddish Recipes Revisited should be subtitled A Crash Course in the History of Jewish-American Gastronomy. The lengthy introduction goes into great detail about the steady migration of Eastern European Jews to New York City, bringing with them the kosher dishes of their homelands. As Jews assimilated into American culture, those traditional dishes evolved. Most of the recipes in this book were collected from New York deli owners, restaurateurs and ordinary people who’ve put twists on their family’s longtime recipes. The history and evolution of each dishes proved as intriguing as the recipes themselves.

The chocolate babka is a prime example of how a simple coffee cake became a luxurious treat. According to Schwartz, the word “babka” comes from “baba,” the Polish word for old lady or grandma. The cake got its name because its original incarnation was “stout and round, just like grandmothers used to be before they went to aerobics class and practiced yoga.” These dry-ish cakes were traditionally plain and served with coffee or tea, but today, Schwartz says their purpose is largely to serve as a vessel for chocolate and sweet stuffings.




He had me at chocolate. This babka is simple to make, but it does require some time. The buttery yeast dough must rest refrigerated overnight, then rest another two hours after the rolls are assembled. Plan accordingly.




Since there’s a generous amount of sugar in the dough and filling, and I’m not one for overly sweet desserts, I used dark chocolate chips instead of the called-for semisweet.




In lieu of a second loaf pan, I tucked most of the slices into a 8-inch round, cinnamon-roll style. Two hours later, they had puffed up against each other in a lovely, chocolate-studded nest.




The end result was definitely still a coffee cake: dry with enough sweetness to warrant a bitter beverage. Though technically included in the dessert section of this book, the coffee pairing necessitates that – like doughnuts or sticky buns – you eat this for breakfast. After all, chocolate in the morning makes the day just a little easier.




Chocolate Babka
Makes 2 loaves

3 cups all-purpose flour
Pinch of salt
A generous ¾ cup sugar, divided
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, cut into tablespoon-size pieces
½ cup whole milk
1 package (about 2 ¼ tsp. active dry yeast)
3 eggs, separated
1 tsp. ground cinnamon, plus more for sprinkling (optional)

2 cups (12 oz.) semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup walnuts (optional)

• To make the dough, in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade, combine the flour, salt and 3 heaping tablespoons of the sugar. Pulse to blend.
• Add the butter to the flour mixture and pulse until crumbly.
• In a small saucepan, heat the milk over low heat until warm, not hot, to the touch (no more than 110 degrees). Stir in 1 level tablespoon of the sugar and the yeast. Allow to stand 7 minutes, until bubbly and risen.
• Add the egg yolks and yeast mixture to the flour mixture. Pulse several times, scraping down the bowl once or twice, until a ball is formed. Remove the dough and place it in a large bowl. Cover with a clean towel and refrigerate overnight.
• Grease 2 8½-by-4½-inch loaf pans. Flour a work surface and a rolling pin.
• To assemble the babkas, in a stand mixer fitted with the whisk, beat the egg whites until soft peaks form.
• One tablespoon at a time, add the remaining ½ cup sugar, then the cinnamon. Beat until the whites form firm peaks.
• Divide the dough in half. Keep one half refrigerated while working with the other. For each half, knead the dough a few times. Roll out on a floured surface to an approximately 22-by-18-inch rectangle. It will be thin.
• Spread the rectangle of dough with half the beaten egg whites to within 1 inch of the edges. Sprinkle evenly with half the chocolate, half the walnuts, and lightly with more cinnamon.
• Turn in about 1 inch of the short edges of the dough rectangle, then carefully roll up jelly roll-style. If the dough is sticking slightly, use a bench scraper (pastry scraper) to ease it off the work surface.
• Slice each roll into 8 even pieces. For each babka, place 8 slices sections in 1 loaf pan, cut sides up like a cinnamon roll, packing them so the edges touch. Cover each with a clean towel and let rise at room temperature for 2 hours. The dough should come up higher than the sides of the pans.
• Position an oven rack in the center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Bake the loaves for 35 to 40 minutes, until light brown. Cool the babkas in the pans for about 5 minutes, then invert them onto serving plates.
• Serve with a serrated blade, or break apart into natural segments.

Reprinted with permission from Ten Speed Press

What’s your favorite sweet breakfast treat to pair with your morning coffee and why? Tell us about it in the comments section below for a chance to win a copy of Jewish Home Cooking by Arthur Schwartz. We’ll announce the winner in next week’s By the Book column.

And now, we’d like to congratulate Joe, whose comment on last week’s By the Book has won a copy of The Mile End Cookbook by Noah and Rae Bernamoff. Rebecca, keep an eye out for an email from the Sauce crew.



Baked: Snickerdoodle Coffee Cake

Monday, September 12th, 2011

091211_breadI love anything with cinnamon, but I usually don’t stop there; I add nutmeg, cloves, cardamom and ginger, inevitably ending up with a chai-spiced cake every time. I simple adore anything that reminds me of a masala chai. This time, though, I reined it in and stuck with cinnamon – but only because I intended to eat it while drinking chai. I wanted a delicious and simple coffee cake that I could nosh on with my morning tea (or coffee, for you coffee drinkers).

I was aiming for a pound cake sort-of-feel, but I decided I didn’t want a pound of butter and a pound of sugar in anything I made. I also often find pound cake to be a bit dry at times. I wanted this cake to stay moist no matter what, especially since I’m a bit of a slow eater when it comes to coffee cakes.

The end product was fabulous. It stayed perfectly soft, even days after I cut my first slice. A sprinkle of coarse sugar around the loaf pan and atop the cake added a caramelized crunch to the outside of the cake. (The crunch subsided after a couple days, but the cake was still very tasty.) It goes great with tea, coffee or even a glass of milk. This is most certainly one for the recipe repertoire.

Snickerdoodle Coffee Cake
Courtesy of Amrita Rawat

8 to 10 Servings

½ cup butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
4 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
½  cup heavy cream
1 ½  cup cake flour
½  tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. coarse sugar, divided
1 tsp. cinnamon, divided

• Beat the butter and sugar with an electric beater until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.
• Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
• Add the vanilla and continue beating.
• Add the heavy cream and continue beating until it’s well incorporated.
• Add the cake flour and salt and beat just until folded.
• Grease a 9-inch loaf pan.
• Sprinkle 1 to 1½ tablespoons of coarse sugar all around the pan, covering the sides as well.
• Pour half the batter into the pan and sprinkle about ½ to ¾ teaspoon of the cinnamon on top.
• Add in the rest of the batter and sprinkle the remaining ¼ to ½ teaspoon cinnamon on top, as well as the remaining ½ tablespoon of the coarse sugar.
• Place the loaf pan in the cold oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
• Bake for 50 minutes (from the time it is placed in the cold oven) or until a skewer or cake tester comes out clean or with a few crumbs attached.
• Let cool and serve at room temperature.

— Photo by Amrita Rawat

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