Saturday, January 5, 2013

Almond Cream Cheese Coffee Cake

The weekend after Christmas, our last long weekend of the winter, we took down the tree and all the Christmas decorations, except for the outside lights on the balcony, cleaned and caught up on laundry, baked cupcakes for a NYE party at a friend's house, slept in later than usual, did the grocery shopping and some post-Christmas errands, and in between all of that spent as many hours as possible on the couch, watching hour after hour of Entourage...

For breakfast Saturday morning, I baked a coffee cake - lately I've become obsessed with creating a variety of coffee cake recipes and I was anxious to try one out to see if it tasted as good in reality as it sounded on paper.  I started with my almond recipe, since it's one of my favorite flavors to use in dessert, and I suspected that almond paste and cream cheese would make a beautiful and luscious filling for the cake.  While I love almond paste, it's one of the few foods that Jamie doesn't enjoy as much as me, but seeing as how I'd baked all of his requests for pie, cobbler and trifle over the course of the holidays, I didn't feel too bad about making a coffee cake that was a little more for my tastes than his.

This coffee cake is moist and tender, with a creamy, slightly sweet almond filling and a crunchy, salted almond streusel.  And while it takes a little bit of preparation, and more time to bake than you might be willing to wait, it's well worth the wait while you sip a cup of coffee and inhale the fragrant scent of coffee cake that fills your house while it bakes.  I can't think of a better way to start a weekend morning than with this pretty cake for breakfast.  And it's equally perfect for dessert later on...

Almond Cream Cheese Coffee Cake
printable recipe

Streusel Topping:
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, diced
  • 1/4 cup sliced almonds  
Almond Cream Cheese Filling:
  • 8 ounces almond paste
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 4 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup sliced almonds 
Cake Batter:
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon   

Preheat oven to 350.  Spray an 8 or 9-inch spring form pan with non-stick spray, or line an 8 or 9-inch cake pan with 3-inch high sides with foil, so that it is fitted tightly against the bottom and comes all the way up the sides with a few inches of overhang.  Spray the foil thoroughly with non-stick spray.

Prepare the Streusel Topping:
In a bowl, combine the flour, sugar and salt, and use your fingers or a pastry cutter to work the butter into the mixture until it’s coarse and crumbly, but you can still see visible chunks of butter.  Toss with the sliced almonds.  Set aside in the refrigerator.

Prepare the Almond Cream Cheese Filling:
In a small bowl, beat the almond paste, sugar and cream cheese.  Keep the almonds separate.  Set aside.

Prepare the Batter:
In the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar until fluffy, about 3 minutes.  Beat in the eggs, one at a time, then the vanilla and almond extracts, until thoroughly combined.  Scrape the bowl down and add the sour cream, mixing well.

In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon.  With the mixer on low, add the flour mixture and stir just until moistened.  Batter will be thick.

Spoon half the batter into the bottom of the prepared pan and spread it out into an even layer (I found it easiest to just use my fingers).  Spoon the almond cream cheese filling over the batter and spread out evenly.  Sprinkle with the ¼ cup sliced almonds.  Dollop the remainder of the cake batter on top and use your fingers to spread it out into an even layer.

Bake for 15 minutes, then sprinkle with the streusel topping and bake for an additional 40-50 minutes, until a skewer inserted into the center, halfway down, comes out clean.  (Note that the almond cream cheese layer will stay creamy, so don’t confuse this for uncooked batter.)  Cool the cake in the pan on a wire rack for 15 minutes, then grasp the foil overhang and carefully lift the cake out of the pan (or remove the sides of a spring form pan).  Pull the foil away from the edges of the cake and let it cool for another 15 minutes on the wire rack.  Using a large flat spatula or cake lifter, slide the spatula under the cake to lift it off the foil and onto a serving plate or cake pedestal.

Yields 8 servings.

Recipe from Curly Girl Kitchen