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Raspberry Streusel Coffee Cake

So…yea. It’s been pretty snowy here, as you no doubt have heard. It’s not the kind of weather that makes you eager to jump off the couch and run to the grocery store. Fortunately, I subjected myself to supermarket hell before last weekend, when the first blizzard was on its way, and fortunately, I’m a typical Jewish woman and totally overshopped, so I’ve got plenty of food in the fridge.

If getting off my lazy derriere to go outside isn’t really in the cards, spending copious amounts of time in the kitchen most certainly is. The snow storm(s) provide an opportunity to make something complicated, something with steps, something luxurious, something you otherwise would flip past in favor of baked ziti. Raspberry streusel coffee cake was that thing for me.

I’ve been eyeing Rose Levy Berenbaum’s streusel coffee cake from her fantastic book The Cake Bible for quite some time. It’s easy to understand why: she’s an expert baker, and she says it’s one of her favorite cakes, so I assumed it’d instantly become one of mine. The recipe is a classic sour cream coffee cake that’s layered with a walnut streusel. It calls for 2 sticks of butter for the cake, another half stick for the streusel, 4 egg yolks, loads of sugar, and a few other things. Needless to say, this one ain’t gettin’ tagged “good for you.” But delicious? Oh yes.

Knowing myself as well as I do (we’re pretty close after all these years), I figured I’d want something tart to offset all the sweetness, so I tossed half a bag of frozen raspberries atop the streusel topping, tucked beneath that top layer of cake batter. Perhaps that’s why my cake wouldn’t firm up in the center, even after 75 minutes of baking. A little annoying, but certain members of my household don’t mind mushy cakes, so all was well. If you add the fruit, definitely either thaw and drain them, or use fresh berries instead. And you’re not limited to berries: apples would be splendid here, as would peaches in summer.

If, like me, you’re indoors today, and all is white, and the wind is blowing, and there’s absolutely nowhere to go but the kitchen, this cake may just be an antidote to your cabin fever.

Raspberry Streusel Coffee Cake
adapted from Rose Levy Berenbaum’s The Cake Bible

For the streusel:

1/3 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
2 T granulated sugar
1 cup walnuts or pecans (I used pecans)
1 1/2 t cinnamon
1/2 cup (dip and sweep) unsifted cake flour
4 tablespoons (half a stick) softened unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

For the batter:

4 large egg yolks
2/3 c. Sour cream
1 1/2 tsp vannilla
2 c. sifted cake flour
1 c. Sugar
1/2 tsp. Baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
12 T (2 sticks) unsalted butter
2 cups fresh (preferred) or frozen, thawed, and drained raspberries

Prepare a 9 inch springform pan by greasing it, lining the bottom with a circle of parchment paper cut to fit, and then greasing and flouring the over that. Beranbaum suggests something called Magi-Cake Strips to insulate the sides as this cake browns a lot due to the yolk content and a long baking time. Instead I just folded foil over about 4-5 times and wrapped it around the pan, insulating it. Although I think the Magi-Cake Strips may work even better, this solution seemed to work ok as my cake browned but not excessively.

Preheat the oven to 350 F.

Streusel Topping and Filling:

In a food processor with the fitted blade, pulse the sugars, nuts and cinnamon until the nuts are coarsely chopped. Remove 3/4 cup to use as filling. To the remained add the cake flour, butter and vanilla and pulse briefly to form a coarse, crumbly mixture for the topping.


In a medium bowl, lightly combine the yolks, vanilla and about 1/4 of the sour cream. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl (or your mixer) combine the dry ingredients (I included the sugar here) and mix on low speed for 30 seconds to combine. Add the butter and remaining sour cream. Mix on low speed until the dry ingredients have been moistened and then increase to medium speed (high speed if using a hand mixer) and beat for 1 1/2 minutes to aerate the cake’s structure. Scrape down the sides as needed. Gradually add the egg mixture in 3 batches, beating for 20 seconds after each addition and scraping the sides each time. Remove from the mixer and use a spatula to fold the batter a few times, making sure that the very bottom and the sides all incorporate evenly.

Reserve about 1/3 of the batter and scrape the rest into the prepared pan. Smooth the surface with a spatula—this is a thick cake batter and will require smoothing. Sprinkle with the prepared streusel filling and then layer the apple slices over that. Dollop the rest of the batter into blobs over the apples slices and smooth it out with a spatula. Sprinkle the streusel topping over the top of the cake.

Bake for 55-65 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean. Cover loosely with buttered foil after 45 minutes to prevent overbrowning. The cake should start to shrink back from the sides of the pan only after removing from the oven so that is not a sign that it is done. As I said in my post, my cake took about 75 minutes and still wasn’t completely done in the center; blame the frozen raspberries. If you have fresh on hand, use them.

Let the cake cool in its pan on a rack for 10 minutes. Loosen the sides with a small metal spatula and remove the sides of the springform pan. Cool completely before wrapping airtight. Serve at room temperature.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Rachel G. February 10, 2010,

    Dear Riv,

    This blog is wonderful! From recipes to anecdotes to gorgeous photography, you have truly outdone yourself. So glad to see how happy you are–it comes through in everything you cook! May life continue to shower you with lots of love, luck and happiness!

    Rachel Geiger Ginsburg

  • Sara February 17, 2010,

    Wow, this one is not for the faint of heart. Is it weird that I get anxious when I start making things with multiple sticks of butter? This one looks worth it though, RLB always comes through.

    • rivka February 17, 2010,

      Not weird at all — I have the same anxiety! In fact, sometimes I make half-batches of cookie dough just so that I can say I only used one stick of butter. Now that’s weird.

  • Diane February 22, 2010,

    My family loves this. I have made it twice in 2 weeks. For the fruit filling… I used your caramelized apples from the crepe recipe. Yum!

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