Sunday, January 20, 2013

The Crumb to My Coffee Cake

There's no better time than brunch time for a post about coffee cake. Especially since every Sunday morning has me craving a hearty breakfast from Maxim's (on Capital Drive in Brookfield - go there!), which always comes complete with a hefty slice of their cinnamon coffee cake on the side. It doesn't matter if you order an omelet, a stack of pancakes, a dish of fruit-filled crepes, or good old fashioned eggs and bacon ... the coffee cake is ever-present! It's an act of extreme willpower to abstain from eating it. And I didn't think it was possible for anyone to compete with it ... until yesterday.

I didn't set out on a mission to reproduce Maxim's coffee cake or a batch of cake that could rival it. I set out on a mission to use a few overripe bananas that had been hanging out on the kitchen counter. Normally, I would have reverted to my standby Betty Crocker banana bread, but yesterday I encountered a dilemma: I had only one egg and my bread calls for two. Oh, and dilemma number two: our milk was expired.

Faced with these challenges, I rifled through my stacks and stacks of cookbooks, determined to come up with something. Then I pulled the Taste of Home cookbook off the shelf (for the first time in years, probably) and turned to the index. Banana coffee cake ... that seemed intriguing.

It calls for no milk. Good.

It calls for two eggs. Bad.

But it also calls for a 9x13-inch pan.

So genius struck. Let's use one egg and make it in an 8x8-inch pan! Thus, I halved the recipe and Bill and I and our coffee cake lived happily ever after.

I'm warning you now. It is addicting. You will stand over the pan, armed with a knife, obsessively saying, "Just one more sliver .. .one more sliver" until you find half of the cake gone. It's moist. It's crumbly. It's banana-y and cinnamon-y. It's everything the ideal coffee cake (which I thought had been perfected by Maxim's) is destined to be.

Next time I'll just double this version and make the full recipe. Let's go stock up on eggs.

Banana Coffee Cake
For the Cake
4 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1 banana, mashed
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/8 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda

For the Topping
1/4 cup chopped or slivered almonds
1/4 cup toasted coconut
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Liberally coat an 8x8-inch baking dish with cooking spray. Set aside.

Beat cream cheese, butter, and sugar until well-combined. Add the banana, egg, and vanilla and mix well. Add flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda. Stir until just combined.

In a small bowl, combine all 4 topping ingredients. Toss to mix. Sprinkle half of the topping in the batter and give it a couple quick stirs to combine. Spread batter in prepared dish. (The batter will be thick so, if necessary, use a rubber spatula sprayed with cooking spray to spread the batter all the way to the edges of the dish.) Sprinkle remaining topping evenly over the batter. Bake 25 to 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack, then slice and serve. Or just eat it standing over the dish, like we have!

By the way, the topping ingredients listed here represent my own (slightly tropical) concoction. The original recipe calls for chopped pecans, cinnamon, and sugar, but I was out of pecans and running low on almonds. I decided to bulk it up with a little coconut and it was an excellent choice!


  1. I have never heard of this specific concoction.. it's genius. Anything that's cake, that has bananas, coconut, AND streusel.. and that I can justify eating half of... for me!

    I've recently been wondering about using an 8x8 to halve a recipe that calls for 9x13. Should I worry about exact proportions, since 8x8 is a little more than half? What if I want to make a denser, thicker cake? Can I use about 3/4 amounts of the 9x13 recipe, or will that spell disaster? I'm guessing that simply upping the oven time might not work..

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