This weekend, I had the pleasure of hosting the lovely Molly Hayes for plenty of beach time and country music. And since we went to college together, we decided to recreate a treat from a favorite bakery in New Haven: Claire’s. Thanks to Marj, I have the Claire’s cookbook, and the cookbook has my absolute favorite cake from the store: Lithuanian Coffee Cake.
However, as is often the case when spending time with Molly, this particular baking expedition turned into quite the adventure. Despite a few mishaps, though, we were able to salvage our attempt into a pretty excellent new recipe with a few alterations. Don’t worry, New Haven friends – I will try again with the Lithuanian Coffee Cake later, but for now, take solace in our experimental version: Brown Sugar Glazed Coffee Cake.
First, cream together the butter and sugar in a stand mixer using the paddle attachment.
Add the eggs and beat until well combined.
Add the sour cream, coffee, and vanilla, and again beat until smooth, making sure to scrape down the sides.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and baking soda.
Pour the liquid ingredients over the dry ingredients (I was surprised, too) and mix until just combined with a wooden spoon.
Now, here is where the adventure started. We had spent the morning hunting for a bundt pan in my parents’ new house, but everything was in boxes and we didn’t have any luck. We decided instead that a regular cake pan would work fine. However, in Lithuanian coffee cake, you spoon half the batter in, then half the filling, then the other half of the batter and sprinkle with the remaining filling. When we put half the batter into the cake pan, it didn’t cover the bottom.
Deciding to roll with it, we just put all the batter in and topped the batter with the filling, with the hopes of turning it into a kind of upside-down Lithuanian Coffee Cake. That way we would still get the brown sugar, cinnamon, walnut and raisin layer.
For those of you just making the Brown Sugar Glazed version, put all the batter into a 9 inch round cake pan, sprayed with cooking spray.
Since it wasn’t a bundt pan, we figured it would cook a little faster. Put it in the oven at 350°F for about half an hour to 40 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Don’t worry, it will rise quite a bit.
Allow to cool for 5 minutes in the pan before flipping onto a wire rack to cool completely.
We may have struggled a bit on that last step there, too. You see, about 30-40 minutes into the baking time, the filling, that we were hoping would melt, really was still just sugar. And a crumbly sugar bottom wasn’t what we were going for. So I had Molly switch on the broiler to quickly melt the top.
However, since we really hadn’t seen each other in about a year and were still catching up, we kinda forgot that the broiler was on until a terrible burnt smell was coming out of the oven, at which point we had to do quick damage control, pull it out, turn on fans and open windows. Our yummy topping was very much unsalvageable, so Molly scraped it off we were left with a cake that looked like this:
The cake itself, though, was actually still fine. So I flipped it over and we went out to kayak and brainstorm how to save it.
The other recipe in the running for the weekend had been banana bread scones, which had a nice brown sugar glaze on them. We thought, why not put it on our coffee cake? So next up: a brown sugar glaze.
First, melt the butter and milk over low heat, stirring constantly.
Add the brown sugar and coconut (or vanilla) extract, stirring until melted.
Remove from heat and whisk in enough confectioner’s sugar to reach your desired consistency – I wanted it to spread but not run over the sides.
Spread onto cooled coffee cake, allow to cool so it hardens, and serve!
Despite our initial troubles, the recipe actually turned out pretty solid. Every once in awhile an experiment works out, and then you have delicious coffee cake for breakfast, and lunch, and snacks, and dessert…
I’ve always thought Claire’s cake is actually better the next day, when it’s a little stale, but feel free to serve it same day if you prefer your coffee cake on the cakier side.
Brown Sugar Glazed Coffee Cake
- 1 stick butter, softened
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 tablespoon brewed coffee, chilled
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup low-fat sour cream
- 2 cups flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 2 tablespoons milk
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1/4 cup dark brown sugar, packed
- 1/4 teaspoon coconut extract
- 1/4-1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
- Cream butter and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer using the paddle attachment on medium speed.
- Add eggs and beat well.
- Add coffee, vanilla extract, and sour cream and beat until combined, scraping down sides.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, and baking powder.
- Pour wet ingredients over dry ingredients and stir with wooden spoon until just combined.
- Pour batter into sprayed 9 inch round cake pan. Bake at 350°F for 30-40 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
- Cool in pan 5 minutes before transferring to wire rack to cool completely.
- Melt butter and milk over low heat, stirring constantly.
- Add brown sugar and coconut extract, stirring until melted.
- Remove from heat and whisk in enough confectioners’ sugar to reach the desired consistency.
- Spread on cooled coffee cake, allow to harden, and serve.