Saturday, October 17, 2009

Coffee Cinnamon Crunch Cake

Today is my Mum's birthday. I say that with a sad little sigh, since another year goes by where I don't get to celebrate it with her. My parents are enjoying retirement bliss in Malaysia so we see each other 3-4 times a year at most. A while back I came across some old photos of my parents and was so fascinated and in love with all of them that I spent the whole day flipping through them. Coming across things like this makes me miss them a lot.

It's been about 6 months since their last visit and one of the things I remembered the other day was a cinnamon coffee cake that my Mother adored at her favourite cafe (which has closed down unfortunately). I woke up this morning determine to recreate that cake, to give as a virtual gift until I can give her a real one in person.

Unfortunately, this was no easy feat since I never actually got to taste this cake myself, so it was purely up to some vague descriptions from my brother and my imagination that this cake became a reality. According to him it was an incredibly moist, dense cake with a just a hint of coffee in it. I came across a similar sounding recipe in one of my favourite books, so I decided to improvise a little.

The result: A moist, soft, dense but not heavy cake with a thin crunchy layer tinged with coffee and cinnamon on top. It may be a cake from the imagination, but it wasn't too shabby. When I first sliced it open for a taste test, it was so moist it almost reminded me of mai lai gou (a super moist Chinese steamed sponge cake), and the crunchy crust with that subtle hint of coffee brought back memories of my favourite Roti Boy buns from Malaysia. And it was just the type of cake that my Mum enjoys; no whipped cream and not too sweet. So even though I can't give this cake to my Mum in person to get her nod of approval, I hope she knows I'm thinking of her.

Coffee Cinnamon Crunch Cake

(loosely adapted from The Golden Book of Patisserie)
For the cake:
1 2/3 cup plain flour
1/3 tsp bicarb soda
1/8 tsp salt
120g butter, softened
170g cream cheese, softened
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 cup milk

For the crunchy topping:
1/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/3 cup plain flour
40g butter, cold and cubed
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp instant coffee granules

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C. Grease and line a 20cm square cake tin. Make the crunchy topping first by combining the brown sugar, cinnamon, coffee and flour in a medium bowl and then gently and quickly rub the cold butter into this with the tips of your fingers until it forms a fine crumbed mixture. Set aside.

Combine the flour, bicarb soda and salt in a medium bowl and set aside. Beat the butter, cream cheese and sugar in a large mixing bowl with an electric beater on medium speed until it is creamy. Continue to beat at medium speed, adding one egg at a time until it is just combined.

Reduce the mixer speed to low and gradually add the dry ingredients, alternating with the milk until just combined. You don't want to beat too much air into the mixture as this cake should not rise too much, so stir it up with a wooden spoon if it looks really fluffy. Spoon the batter into the cake tin and sprinkle the crunchy topping over the batter.

Bake for 40-45 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. If it starts to rise up too much in the centre of the cake while in the oven, gently pat the centre down with a spatula. Cool the cake inside the tin on a rack.

When cooled, very very gently turn out of the tin using two large plates, and then carefully cut into cubes. The topping with be a thin, delicate crunch and can fall off easily if you don't take care.

Happy Birthday Mum, next month I promise I'll bake this for you in person so we can share a slice over a cup of tea. Hugs and kisses, from Steph.
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  1. WoW! You are the mirror image of your mum :p Lov the rendition of your coffe crunch cake. Super moist! drool!

  2. Is that your Mom? Yep, you are a spitting image :) And your Mom looked totally groovy in that photo!

    So sweet of you, no doubt you'll get to celebrate her birthday with her soon enough xx

  3. How sweet of you. Looks delicious - love the crunchy top!

  4. that cake look to die for! That crunchy top makes me hungry! And so sweet of you to try to recreate something that you're mum loves so the way, how huge is that piece of coral!!!???!!

  5. What a lovely daughter you are! :) And oh my you look just like her! :o Lovely cake lift too ;)

  6. Happy birthday to your mum : )

    And that cake looks lovely! I think I'll give it a go....mmmmmmmm

  7. That cake looks amazingly moist. Happy belated Birthday to your mom :)

  8. She was so happy with this entry she couldn't stop talking bout it during our dinner at Ducking. Promise I will share the photos of what we had for dinner with you-yl

  9. It's nice that you can send your mum a virtual cake; it really looks delicious!

  10. That's so lovely of you to make a cake up for your mother - I'm sure she would have loved for you to have been there with her!

  11. Aww how sweet of you Steph! The cake looks so lovely! Happy Birthday to your mum :)

  12. Happy Bday to your mother! Great looking cake mmm love the crunchy crumble on top, but would be better if chocolate and cinnamon instead of coffee for me hee hee

  13. awww, aren't you such a sweetie! happy birthday to your mum :)

  14. I'm sure your mum would have loved every bit of that cake. It looks so delicious. Crumble on anything is heaven.. I hope you get to see your mum soon.

  15. Ellie - hahaha I didn't realise notice until people started saying that! Even my mum thought it was me!

    Karen - Yup that's my mum :) Hehe she totally was!

    Conor - Aw thanks! I love a good crunchy top!

    Maria - Thank you so much! I know it's insanely huge! They had it with them when they lived in Sarawak

    Lorraine - Haha thanks :) Everyones been saying that! My dad emailed me and said: 'I was puzzled how you managed to get hold of that large piece of coral which looked exactly like the one we had in Miri many years ago until Mum pointed out that was a photo of her, not you!'

    Brenda - Oh you should! I'm totally in love with it at the moment, it's sooo moist.

    Y - Thank you! It was all thanks to the cream cheese me thinks :)

    yl - :D YAY!

    Belle@OohLook - I called her up and sent her the link to the post :) Thank you!

    shez - Thanks hun! I will have to bake it again for her when she actually comes to visit

    Betty - Thanks :D We ate it all up very quickly!

    FFichiban - Aw thanks! Hahaha actually the original recipe I adapted it from had chocolate chips instead of cinnamon, so it would totally work!

    Jen - :D well it's the least i could do, thanks!

    Katherine - Aw thank you, I do get to see her actually, she's coming in a couple weeks!


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