So I was bored and thought, gosh I haven’t baked in a while. Let’s see what I already have in the house and make something. I got a new spring form pan for Christmas and hadn’t christened it yet. What’s the matter with me? Time to figure out a baking project…
So I perused my pantry and refrigerator and went off seeking the help of my trusted friend Pinterest and voila, it was decided – I’m making a strawberry cream cheese coffee cake. I found a recipe from a blog called joansfoodwonderings on blogspot. I had everything to make the cake and so I proceeded on my baking adventure. Here are my lessons learned along with my recipe rating.
Rating: A – this is a great recipe, a little time consuming to make but well worth the effort. It is not overly sweet and yet very flavorful. The dough reminded me of chocolate chip cookie dough as I could had eaten raw by the spoonfuls. Great recipe, a must try.
Lesson Learned 1: I have to get off my butt and get more proficient at high altitude baking. For some reasons some recipes I have mastered but when it comes to a few I just fail miserably. My failure on this one was not horrible – it’s just that I really need to get more proficient at adjusting these types of recipes for high altitude so my cakes don’t fall in. I know the basic rules namely decrease the leavening (baking powder), decrease the sugar (it weighs the mixture down, ergo the fall-in) and increase the liquid. I tried this recipe as is and it wound up falling in (as you can see from the picture to the right). Not sure why I didn’t try to adjust it but I’ve already decided that my next baking venture is going to be a cheesecake so I will definitely do some adjusting on that and see what happens. The challenge with high altitude baking is it can be such a guessing game from recipe to recipe and that gets a little frustrating. But it’s my reality. I will definitely try this one again with a few adjustments. Thank goodness it still tastes good – just not as pretty as I would like it to be. My goal is to adjust this recipe so it the cake continues to look the same way it does when it first comes out of the oven (see picture below). I know I can do it! The recipe I will give you is not adjusted for high altitude but provides some high altitude tips.
Lesson Learned 2: Make sure the strawberries you use are ripe. Mine were a little less ripe and I think that affects the overall sweetness the strawberries provide. You do add sugar to the strawberries when you cook them, but I think the sweetness of them would have been even richer had they been just a tad riper.
Lesson Learned 3: I seem to have a hard time creating a good crumb topping. I know you need to use cold butter and use either a pastry cutter or some other sharp utensil to cut the butter into the flour mixture until the mixture turns into course crumbs. For some reason I can’t seem to get the butter incorporated to the point that my mixture looks consistently like coarse crumbs. Some parts of it does, the other parts simply look like flour. I wound up not putting the entire mixture on top of the coffee cake, just the parts that resembled coarse crumbs. I’m glad I did. Otherwise the top of the cake would have had a large dusting of flour on it instead of a crumb topping. I have to figure out how to get better at this as well. Next time I think I’m going to try to do the combining in the food processor and see if that helps. If you have any tips, let me know as this has been a perennial issue for me.
As you can see from the picture above, the finished product (if it doesn’t fall in) is really a site to behold. I like this recipe because it is not overly sweet. Be careful not to overcook. The recipe called for baking from 50-55 minutes. I did 55 and the cake part was slightly overdone – again not awful but next time I’ll do 50 minutes. This recipe requires a lot of dishes to put together, but in the end I think it is worth it.
Strawberry Cream Cheese Coffee Cake
2 cups flour
1 cup + 3 tsp. sugar, divided (high altitude consider using a light measure – i.e., not all the way to the top of the measuring cup)
1 stick cold butter
1/2 tsp baking powder (reduce for high altitude to 1/8)
1/2 tsp baking soda (reduce for high altitude to 1/8)
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup full fat sour cream
2 extra large eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
8 oz. room temperature cream cheese
2 cups fresh strawberries cut into pieces
3 tsp water for slurry (high altitude consider adding 2-3 TBS of water – 1 TBS to the cream cheese mixture and 2 TBS to the cake batter)
1 1/2 tsp cornstarch
Preheat the oven to 350. Begin by making the strawberry filling. Cut the strawberries into small pieces, put in a pot and add sugar. Cook on medium heat for about 5 minutes until strawberries release their juices. In the meantime combine 3 tsp. of water with the cornstarch and make a slurry (make sure you get the cornstarch completely combined with the water). Add to the strawberry mixture and continue to cook until the mixture thickens (a couple of minutes). Take off the stove to set aside and cool.
Next, make the cream cheese filling by first beating the cream cheese for about a minute until it becomes fluffy. Add 1/4 cup of sugar, egg, vanilla and 1 TBS water (only in high altitude). Beat until combined. Set aside.
To make the cake, combine the flour, 3/4 cup of sugar and 1/2 cup cold butter sliced into cubes. (I use a pastry cutter to initially slice the butter and it works very well). Cut the butter into the flour and sugar mixture (try using a food processor for this so that the mixture becomes more evenly combined) until the mixture looks like coarse crumbs. Take 3/4 cup of this mixture and set aside for the topping.
In a separate bowl beat the egg, sour cream and vanilla (and for high altitude add 2 Tbs. of water) until smooth. Using a spoon, combine the sour cream mixture with the remaining flour mixture until well combined. The batter will be thick and maybe slightly lumpy.
Line the bottom of a 8 inch springform pan with parchment paper. Spread the batter in the bottom of the pan and create a well by pushing the batter up 1/2 inch all around the edges of the pan. Pour the cream cheese mixture in the center of the well making sure that it does not go over the side of the batter edges. Spread the strawberry mixture on top of the cream cheese mixture. Sprinkle the remaining crumble over the top of the cake.
Bake for 50-55 minutes. Let cake cool for at least a half hour before removing from the pan. At that point the cheese center will still be warm. Let the cake set for at least another hour before serving or put in the refrigerator to chill.