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Definition of Coffee Cake


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I sit here, eating a slice of King Cake, and I am reminded of a subject that I’ve thought about before.


Coffee Cake.

 

we’ve all baked hundreds of cakes over the years, I’ll wager, but what separates cake from what we call Coffee Cake? What are the defining characteristics? What makes it Coffee Cake? Can anyone answer this? I got a very good coffee cake recipe from Southern Cakes, but this question still bothers me

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I don't know the answer but when I think of coffee cake I think of a denser cake, no icing, with a crumble type top.  It should be spiced with "warm" spices, such as cinnamon.

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well, the internet at large does have "definitions" - but for everyone of those there's an exception....

 

for me it's a cakey type thingie that's more of a pastry.

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Off the top of my head, I think of a coffee cake as being less complicated to make.  It could have icing in my world.  I have a binder  of recipes for 'cakes' and another one for 'coffee cakes & muffins'.  No real thought has ever gone into any of this. 

Darienne

 

learn, learn, learn...

 

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In my world it would be a coffee-flavored sponge cake, but I assume that doesn’t fit your request …

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1 hour ago, Duvel said:

In my world it would be a coffee-flavored sponge cake, but I assume that doesn’t fit your request …

Not in the US.  The first response by @ElsieD is what I think of historically. Also not super sweet and with an open crumb v. dense. Good to have with simple coffee.

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23 minutes ago, ElsieD said:

 

That, in my humble opinion, is exactly right.

Are Drake's products distributed up there?  When I was a kid, I thought they were just a NY area (or Northeast US) thing, but now I'm curious...

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11 minutes ago, KennethT said:

Are Drake's products distributed up there?  When I was a kid, I thought they were just a NY area (or Northeast US) thing, but now I'm curious...

 

I have no idea.  I do know that for me, when I make coffee cake, the structure and look of the thing looks like the Drake one, only bigger.

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Yes, like @ElsieD, I think of coffee cake as a basic cake with a cinnamon-sugar layer and a streusel topping with more cinnamon and sugar in it! Lots of cinnamon flavour, a little bit sweet. But enough butter in the batter to make it luscious. I like some nuts in the topping as well. I've made this Classic Coffee Cake from Simply Recipes a couple of times and I think it's pretty close to the average recipe. 

 

 

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7 hours ago, KennethT said:

When I think of the term "coffee cake" what immediately comes to mind is my childhood in the early 80s in New York - specifically, Drake's coffee cake...

https://drakescake.com/www/cakes/view/3/coffee-cakes


Indeed. And Entenman’s was the first one I thought of…https://www.entenmanns.com/en/products/crumb-coffee-cake

 

Ebinger’s (RIP) too…https://www.tfrecipes.com/ebingers-crumb-cake/

 

 

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Things labelled coffee cake may have crumble top or icing...often contain cinnamon...have sponge cake consistency esp if made by big commercial outfits with low aspirations eg Drake's or TastyKake...and tend to be more like cakey bread if from a  higher class outfit (like a local bakery if any still exist)

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Based entirely on my experience and somewhat tongue-in-cheek... 

 

Coffee Cake: a cinnamony crumble topped cake usually so dry you can't choke it down without a cup of coffee to help.

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It's kinda like wrestling a gorilla... you don't stop when you're tired, you stop when the gorilla is tired.

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13 hours ago, Tri2Cook said:

Based entirely on my experience and somewhat tongue-in-cheek... 

 

Coffee Cake: a cinnamony crumble topped cake usually so dry you can't choke it down without a cup of coffee to help.

Definitely there are elements of truth here.  My classic coffee cake (made by mother) is as @ElsieD describes.  But I have experienced variations.   What has definitely united them all is that they are a good accompaniment to coffee.

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As a kid I would think I was sneaky and eat all the crumble toppings off the Entenman’s coffee cake my parents liked. They weren’t amused but I loved it. They’d hide it in taller cabinets so I’d just climb on the counters and pull it down. 😁

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