Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Coffee Cakes and Recipe Testing

I'm lucky enough to have a grocery store a mere half mile from my house. Technically it's down the street.  A very long street.

Unfortunately, this grocery store has been closed for over a year. They tore the entire thing down (it was pretty janky) and built a new, fancy grocery store in its place.  Gone are the days of driving 20 minutes away and loading up on a week's worth or more of groceries… now I jog down to the grocery to grab three bananas. Or a pack of trident. Or a single tomato. OH THE LUXURY!

Speaking of luxury,  there's a Starbucks right in the grocery store, which is exciting… except the line is always out the door.  I can't tell if this is because Starbucks is popular or the baristas are as slow as molasses.   Do baristas have to "do their time" in an airport/grocery/Target Starbucks before graduating to a standalone store? Are they waiting on six months of good behavior to get a promotion to a real Starbucks? This is all beside my point of the day, which is STRAWBERRY FEVER!


A big perk of the new Harris Teeter is that they have a local produce section. NC has a brief but prolific strawberry season, so I found myself buying five pounds of strawberries last week. Erp. After slurping down 15 fruit smoothies, I decided to give my blender a rest and make mini strawberry crumb cakes. 


I wanted to do a little test with the coffee cakes to figure out the best method. This is something I often do when testing or developing a new recipe -but usually I only show the good version on the blog, for obvious reasons.  I live in fear of you judging me. 

I knew that I wanted to have a strawberry filling, but I didn't know whether it would be more delicious put in the middle of the cake or on top of the cake, below the crumb.  I tried both.  Look at how different the results are!

Take 1: All cake, then strawberries, then crumb: 


Oh dear.  A disgusting strawberry volcano. 


Take two: Half of the cake batter, the strawberry filling, the other half of the cake batter, and then the crumb: 


BEAUTIFUL.  Like little pillows of butter and berries. I want to bury my face in that pillow. 

Luckily I have a husband who doesn't judge volcano cakes so he happily ate the mess ups.  These cakes were pretty delicious and simple to make. See below for recipes for the different components. 


Crumb Topping
  1. 1/2 c butter
  2. 1/2 c brown sugar
  3. 1/2 c flour
  4. 1/4 c almond flour
  5. cinnamon
  6. handful of pecans
  • Chop everything together in a food processor or chopper.  The texture should be crumbly. It's a crumb cake. Duh. 
  • You can make the crumb in advance and store it in the fridge for whenever crumb needs arise (this is great for making a spontaneous fruit crisp!) If you have extra, you can also freeze it in a ziploc bag.
  • It's streusel, not rocket science. Feel free to add different nuts or sub a different kind of flour. 


  1. 1/2 c brown sugar
  2. 1/2 c white sugar
  3. 1/2 c butter

  4. 1 egg
  5. vanilla
  6. 8 oz AP flour
  7. 1/2 t baking powder
  8. 1t baking soda
  9. 1/2 t salt
  10. 1/2 c yogurt
  11. 1/4 c milk

    Make the cake with the creaming method
    • Mix the first three ingredients until light and fluffy. While these are mixing, whisk together the dry ingredients (6-9) in a separate bowl.
    • Scrape yo mixing bowl to get the clingy butter off the edges.
    • Add the egg and vanilla and scrape again. Mix until incorporated.
    • Add half of your flour mixture. Mix just until incorporated.
    • Dump in the yogurt and milk, mix until incorporated. 
    • Dump in the rest of the flour mixture and mix until just combined. 
Macerate strawberries by slicing them and sprinkling sugar on top. Let them sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes. They will become juicy and delicious. 
To assemble and bake...
  • Fill the cupcake tin of mold 1/4 full with cake batter.
  • Add a layer of strawberries.
  • Fill with more cake batter until the mold is 3/4 full
  • Sprinkle crumb topping (GENEROUSLY, you scrooge!) on top of the cake
  • Bake at 350* for 25 minutes


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