Every year there are loads of magazines (not all of them exclusively food centered) which feature gorgeous, glossy photos of beautifully crafted red, white, and blue desserts. And while some of them require more time than anything else, many require deft decorating skills to get the desired results, or ingredients many of us rarely have on hand. The internet is littered with images of what happens to many of us when we attempt them.
But I am here to help you. Not just today, but any day you need a dessert in a hurry. The recipe as written on the card in my recipe box is “Favorite Coffee Cake”, but more accurately it’s “Oh [EXPLETIVE], People Are Gonna Be Here in Half an Hour! (Cake)”
When I was young we knew nearly everyone in our neighborhood, and most of our extended family lived within a 30 minute drive. So we had people over quite often, and went visiting on a regular basis. People were usually nice enough to call before they arrived, even if it was to say “Hey, I’m about to get in the car, see you in half an hour.”
My mom firmly believed in having “coffee-and” ready for guests. The “and” was usually this cake, because it could be ready in about 30 minutes. The best part is, since the recipe is quite basic, you can add anything you like to it and fool people into thinking you know a dozen cake recipes.
Streusel Topping (make first)
3 Tbls butter
1/4 Cup AP flour
1/3 Cup packed brown sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
Combine everything in a medium-sized bowl, using a fork to mush everything into crumbs. Set it aside, you’ll need it soon
Cake Batter (it’s somewhat stiff)
1 1/2 Cups AP Flour
1/2 Cup sugar
2 1/2 tsps baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
1/4 Cup shortening ***I recommend the measurable stick kind***
3/4 Cup milk
A hand mixer or stand mixer is pretty key for the brevity of prep – if you don’t have one of these, mixing will take a little longer and should be done with a stiff whisk.
1. Pre-heat your oven to 350F.
2. Grease an 8″ x 2″ circular pan with butter. Or use a 9″ pie plate – that’s what I had clean. NO TIME FOR DISHES!
3. Put all the cake batter ingredients – yes ALL of them – into your stand/hand mixer bowl.
4. Combine on LOW just until the flour won’t fly everywhere, then beat for 30 seconds on MEDIUM.
5. Scrape the bowl to ensure it’s all mixed, then pour it into your pan.* Add the streusel topping.
6. Bake at 350F for 35ish minutes – if you often have to shave time off recipes for your oven, check at 30. It’s done when a toothpick poked into the middle comes out clean.
*If you are adding anything extra, now is the time to do it – I added blueberries this time. My mom would often add finely chopped nuts, and swirl the topping and nuts into the cake a little just before putting it in the oven.
Before… and After
For serving, I’ve added some rhubarb compote, so I’ll have a nice patriotic dessert. That’s what I had on hand, since there was lovely rhubarb at the fruit stand this week. Sliced strawberries would also work, or raspberries. If you happen to have lingonberries, go for it. Heck, add a little toothpick flag if you have one. Patriotism!
Because it’s so simple, this cake lends itself to additions of nearly anything. If you like chocolate, add chocolate chips (about 3/4 Cup). Any kind of chopped up nuts work nicely. Or make a cinnamon-raisin cake by using melted butter when you make the topping, and adding 1/2 Cup of plumped raisins, then swirl it all into the batter.
This cake is equally delicious while it’s still warm, or room temperature. It’s similarity to muffins makes it a yummy breakfast treat. It also, naturally, pairs well with coffee and tea (hot or iced). And it’s extra delicious with friends.