Friday, February 3, 2012

A cake with universal appeal:
Sour Cream-Orange Coffee Cake
with Chocolate-Pecan Streusel

Most baking is adult-and-kid-friendly.
   You don’t have to do much to convince adults and children to try cookies or cakes. It seems baked goods are universally appealing.
   Once in a while, though, I’ll bake something that goes just a few miles further down that lane of universal appeal -- something that’s equally at home on a plate for afternoon tea with grandma or in a six-year-old’s school lunch.
   Sour Cream-Orange Coffee Cake with Chocolate-Pecan Streusel (click for the recipe) is an excellent example: It’s playful and portable, which kids love, but parents can also sit down and enjoy a piece after supper.
   I loved the fact that chocolate chips were used in the streusel. It’s a speedy and fun way to add texture and flavor and appeal to kids at the same time. And the word "coffee" is just to describe what the cake might be eaten with -- there is no actual coffee in the cake.
   Although there is orange peel and juice in the cake, there is very little orange taste to it. It’s so subtle, it’s seems to be simply a flavor enhancer for the moist cake.
   It was easy to make.
   For the streusel, golden brown sugar and cinnamon are whisked together to blend, then chilled unsalted butter is added and rubbed in with fingertips until the mixture holds together in small, moist clumps (the texture of wet sand). Chopped pecans and semisweet chocolate chips are mixed in.
   For the cake, sugar, room-temperature butter, eggs, orange peel and vanilla extract are mixed together with an electric mixer. A mixture of flour, baking soda and baking powder is added in alternately with sour cream, then orange juice is mixed in.
   Half of the batter is poured into a buttered and floured 13x9x2” inch metal baking pan, and is sprinkled with half the streusel. The remaining batter is dropped over by heaping tablespoonfuls and carefully spread to make an even layer. The remaining streusel is sprinkled on top.
   The cake is baked for 30 minutes, then a sheet of aluminum foil is tented loosely over the pan. The cake continues to bake, about 35 minutes longer.
  The foil is removed, and the cake is cooled in the pan for at least 20 minutes before serving. Serve warm or at room temperature.

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