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Tuesday, January 6, 2015

It's A Challenge

Kate has challenged me to post a new recipe, one of my own, each week this year.  Hey.  It's 2015, and she's feeling frisky.  And ambitious.  For me.

As most of you know, I have a deep, abiding love for my cookbooks.  I love cookbooks.  I buy them constantly.  I use them daily.  I am not a recipe-maker-upper.  I follow recipes, often to the letter.  I do not usually come up with them myself.

Usually is the operative word here.  The truth is that I do, occasionally, come up with my own recipes.  These recipes often come as a result of (1) having made a published recipe 10,000 times and thus I've added my own special flair to it over time, or (2) I get a hankering for something and don't have a recipe for said item so I just wing it.  Surprisingly enough, these are often some of my best efforts in the kitchen.

So, in the spirit of accepting Kate's challenge, (sure, it's no work for her), here's this week's You Little Tarte recipe.  It's a coffeecake.  You all know how much I love, love, love coffeecake, so it somehow seems appropriate that this maiden voyage be with a coffeecake.

I know.  You're hooked.

For the holidays, Charlie gave me a cookbook called Cake Keeper Cakes by Lauren Chattman.  It really was the perfect gift.  After all, as stated above, I love coffee cake, and of the 100 recipes in this cookbook, roughly 99 of them qualify as coffeecakes.

I started by making the Apricot Jam Cake, which sounded pretty good, but a little heavy on the apricot jam (too cloying) and not heavy enough on some of the spices.  Once the batter was made, I decided it looked a little naked, so I dressed up with a little streusel.  What doesn't taste better with a little streusel (or a lot of streusel, for that matter)?

The end result was a real winner.  Sweet, but not cloying, and rich, as a result of my addition of streusel, with just a little crunch for interest.  This coffeecake, which I'm claiming as my own (with a little adaptation credit), is definitely up to Kate's challenge.

Recipe:  Apricot Jam Cake with Hazelnut Streusel Topping
Adapted from Cake Keeper Cakes by Lauren Chairman


For the cake:

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
6 tablespoons softened unsalted butter
3/4 cup apricot jam
2 eggs, room temperature
3 tablespoons plain yogurt
1/2 cup toasted and skinned hazelnuts, chopped medium

For the hazelnut streusel:

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup toasted and skinned hazelnut, chopped coarsely


Preheat the oven to 350F.  Grease an 8 inch square baking pan and dust it with a little flour.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients: flour, baking powder, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, baking soda, and salt.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter with the brown sugar, until fluffy, 2-3 minutes.  Scrape down the sides, and beat in the jam.

With the mixer on medium speed, add the eggs one at a time.  Add the yogurt.  Reduce the speed of the mixer to low, and add the flour mixture a little at a time, scraping down the sides after each addition.  Beat just until incorporated and add the nuts, missing only long enough to completely incorporate the nuts.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan.

To make the streusel topping, melt the butter in the microwave in a medium size bowl.  Add the remaining ingredients and mix well, until the mixture is complete incorporated and forms soft chunks of streusel.  Sprinkle the streusel mixture on top of the unbaked cake.

Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, approximately 1 hour.  Let the cake cook in the pan.  Cut into 9 squares and serve.  The cake will keep nicely in a cake keeper for about 3 days, if it lasts that long.

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