Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Plain Jane Dessert

Whenever I got into a bakery I drool over the cases of beautifully decorated cakes and pastries. I adore the elaborate designs, garnishes, and extra effort the baker put in to make such lovely baked goods. But when I'm baking for myself, I never do anything like that. Although I bookmark extravagant desserts, the ones I make time after time are the never-fail, homely but delicious treats.

This coffee cake is a perfect example. It's not at all winsome in its looks, yet beneath it's craggy, plain surface, lies a moist, flavorful cake that will make you come back for seconds. And thirds.

I know it's not the loveliest cake on the block, but try it. Trust me - you won't be disappointed.

Double Apple Streusel Coffee Cake
- adapted from the excellent You Made That Dessert? by Beth Lipton

1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 packed dark brown sugar
2 Tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
3 tbsp cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1/4 cup chopped pecans

1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 tbsp cinnamon
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup unsweetened applesauce, at room temperature
8 Tbsp (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
1/4 cup plain yogurt, at room temperature (full fat is best, but low-fat is OK)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 large egg, at room temperature
1 small sweet apple, such as Gala or Yellow Delicious, peeled and roughly chopped

1- Preheat oven to 350 deg. F with a rack in the center. Spray an 8-inch square pan with cooking spray.

2- For the streusel, in a medium bowl combine the flour, sugars, cinnamon, and salt. Stir to combine well. Add the butter pieces and work in with a pastry blender, two knives, or your fingers until it resembles coarse sand. Add the pecans and toss with your fingers to mix. Cover and place in the refrigerator.

3- For the cake, in a large bowl combine the flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt; whisk well to combine. Make sure all brown sugar lumps are broken up.

4- In another large bowl combine the applesauce, melted butter, yogurt, vanilla, and egg; beat with a whisk to combine well.

5- Add the flour mixture to the applesauce mixture all at once. Use a flexible spatula to stir the two mixtures together. Add the chopped apple. Scrape the bottom of the bowl to be sure there are no pockets of dry flour. Be careful not to overstir, though, as that results in a tough cake.

6- Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and spread it evenly. Sprinkle the streusel over the top.

7- Bake the cake for 50 to 55 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Let the cake cool in the pan on a wire rack for at least 20 minutes. Cut into pieces and serve.

(Note: I baked my cake for 15 minutes longer than the time stated. Rely on the toothpick to figure out when it's done.)


HanaĆ¢ said...

Oh that looks wonderful. Homey, just like comfort food!! I love Beth Lipton's book. Ever tried her Chocolate Date Cake? It is awesome!!! Try it!

Cookie baker Lynn said...

Hanaa - Yes, I have made the chocolate Date cake from Beth’s book. I agree - it’s wonderful!

grace said...

streusel is excellent. apples are excellent. apples in two forms AND streusel is beyond excellent, regardless of looks. great recipe, lynn!

Melinda said...

I like 'comfy slippers' cake, too.
This would go lovely with a nice cuppa tea.

Abby said...

This is my fave kind of dessert, too! Anything with yogurt in it is bound to be delicious and have a fabulous texture.

Valerie Harrison (bellini) said...

Are we able to have fourths?

Kitchen Corner said...

I like this cake. The ingredients are all my favorites especially the cinnamon, brown sugar and apple sauce. I have bookmark these recipe and will try it soon. Thanks for sharing!

Samantha Kate said...

My all time favorite desserts have to remind me of home! This is perfect... not too fancy... not too complicated, just right.

Barbara said...

Love your post title! And so many good things are plain Jane, aren't they?
Your apple streusel cake looks divine! Bet the yogurt and applesauce make it really moist, too.

Peabody said...

Oh this looks so good. The homely desserts are usually the best.

Anh said...

Can I come over? This looks beautiful. I am not a big fan of fancy cakes with lots of cream/fondants/icing. This fits me way way better

Homemade Heaven said...

This winter I am going to impress my family with this "plain jane" dessert - and I don't think they will be thinking "plain jane" while eating it! Thank you!

The Blonde Duck said...

Plain Janes like this beat pretty any day.

Elle said...

Looks aren't everything! Have you tried this with Greek yogurt?

Anonymous said...

Oh, I'd gladly have you over, with a jug of warm custard waiting to be friends with your apple cake. I love anything with a crunchy topping!

NKP said...

I love this kind of coffee cake - delicious! I would eat it for breakfast too.. :)

Anonymous said...


CookiePie said...

I'm so flattered that you made my cake and blogged about it -- thanks!!! And I agree -- it's not the prettiest, but if anyone balks, no cake for them! :)

eatme_delicious said...

Mmm delicious. I love streusel but for some reason very rarely make it!

Unknown said...

It's the plain jane's that hold a special place, always!!