COFFEECAKE

Times Staff Writer

Breakfast can be a delightful meal, a cheerful and cozy introduction to the day. But for many it is likely to be a hastily assembled snack dashed off en route to the office, school or other destination.

On the rare occasion when time is available, try lifting breakfast out of the ordinary. An easy way to do that is to serve homemade coffeecake. In this field of baking, simple recipes often produce spectacular results. As evidence, three of the recipes given here have earned a reputation for two California restaurants, one in the North, one in the South. Yet all are easy enough for novice bakers.

A big seller at the Bakery Cafe in South Pasadena is a sour cream coffeecake topped with brown sugar and chopped walnuts. The slices come to the table lightly warmed with a pat of butter melting over the top. "It's an old recipe that's a standby," said Anne Williams, a representative of the California Banquet Corp., which owns the restaurant.

Williams said that the cake has been served at the Bakery Cafe since its opening in 1970. "The flavor seems to appeal to the great majority of people," she commented. Tinted a cheery yellow, the coffeecake stores and freezes well. In keeping with the bakery theme of the restaurant, it is sold uncut to take home as well as in slices to eat on the premises.

The Cafe Beaujolais in Mendocino is renowned for its homey, lavish breakfasts. Here chef-owner Margaret Fox turns out omelets, waffles and baked goods so tempting that customers drive long distances to taste them.

One of the lures is Fox's Buttermilk-Cinnamon Coffeecake, an old fashioned breakfast cake with a brown sugar, cinnamon and almond topping. For convenience, Fox suggests preparing the spicy topping and part of the batter the night before, then adding the liquids and leavening in the morning. That way, the cake can be ready for breakfast with a minimum of work.

Another Fox specialty is a Cocoa Coffeecake with the unexpected addition of instant coffee powder and dried apricots. These ingredients are part of a cocoa filling that is layered with the batter. Like her buttermilk cake, this coffeecake is baked in a rectangular pan, making it easy to cut into squares for serving.

Fox's Cocoa Coffeecake is one example of the growing popularity of chocolate in baked goods for breakfast. This trend inspired the inclusion of recipes for two other chocolate coffeecakes. One has an inner layer and topping of streusel made with miniature chocolate chips. After the cake is baked, more chips are sprinkled over the top. Orange juice and peel, added to the batter, make an interesting combination with the chocolate.

The other recipe produces a delicate, almond-coated cake of brioche dough layered with dark filling. The filling includes cocoa, almond paste and a dash of almond extract to enhance the nut flavor.

Still another idea for breakfast is a coffeecake version of sticky buns. The buns are so named because they are baked in a pan lined with a sugar mixture that produces a syrupy glaze. In this variation, the rolls are piled in a tube pan to produce a sticky form of monkey bread. Each ball of dough is coated with butter and honey, then rolled in sugar and cinnamon. The sugar melts and caramelizes as the coffeecake bakes. And the chopped pecans that line the bottom of the pan mix with the melted sugar to form an attractive topping when the cake is turned out for serving.

THE BAKERY CAFE'S SOUR CREAM COFFEECAKE

1 1/3 cups sugar

3 1/2 tablespoons butter

7 tablespoons margarine

2 eggs

3/4 teaspoon vanilla

1/4 teaspoon brandy flavoring

1/8 teaspoon yellow food color

7 tablespoons sour cream

1 1/3 cups flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

Brown Sugar Topping

Cream sugar, butter and margarine thoroughly. Gradually beat in eggs. Add vanilla, brandy flavoring and yellow food color. Stir in sour cream, then add flour and baking powder and mix. Turn into greased deep 8-inch round cake pan. Distribute Brown Sugar Topping evenly over batter. Bake at 325 degrees 1 hour 15 minutes. Makes 8 servings.

Brown Sugar Topping

2/3 cup brown sugar, packed

1 tablespoon plus 2 1/4 teaspoons margarine

3 1/2 tablespoons flour

1/3 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 cup chopped walnuts

Cream sugar and margarine. Add flour and cinnamon. Blend with hands to form small crumbles. Add walnuts.

CAFE BEAUJOLAIS' BUTTERMILK-CINNAMON COFFEECAKE

2 1/4 cups flour

1 cup brown sugar, packed

3/4 cup granulated sugar

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

3/4 cup corn oil

1 cup sliced almonds

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 egg

1 cup buttermilk

Mix flour, brown sugar, granulated sugar, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, salt and ginger. Blend in oil until smooth. Remove 3/4 cup mixture and combine with almonds and remaining 1 teaspoon cinnamon. Mix and set aside. To remaining flour mixture, add baking powder, baking soda, egg and buttermilk. Blend until smooth. Pour into buttered 13x9-inch baking pan. Sprinkle reserved nut mixture evenly over surface of batter. Bake at 350 degrees 35 to 40 minutes. Place pan on wire rack to cool. Cut into squares to serve. Makes 8 to 12 servings.

MARGARET FOX'S COCOA COFFEECAKE

1 cup brown sugar, packed

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon finely ground instant coffee powder

2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons cocoa

1/2 cup chopped dried apricots

1 1/3 cups walnuts, chopped

2 3/4 cups flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup butter

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar

2 teaspoons vanilla

3 eggs

2 cups sour cream

Mix brown sugar, cinnamon, coffee powder, cocoa, apricots and walnuts. Set aside. Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Beat butter in large bowl of electric mixer. Add granulated sugar and vanilla and beat 2 to 3 minutes, until light. Add eggs and beat, scraping bowl occasionally. Mixture should be very light. Add flour mixture in 3 parts alternately with sour cream, beating after each addition only until smooth.

Completely cover bottom of buttered 13x9-inch baking pan with thin layer of batter. Sprinkle half of brown sugar mixture evenly over batter. Make another layer of batter, then a layer of remaining brown sugar mixture. Cover with remaining batter. Bake at 375 degrees 1 hour or until top feels firm and springy. Serve warm. Makes 10 to 12 servings.

MINI-CHIP STREUSEL COFFEECAKE

6 tablespoons butter or margarine

1/2 cup sugar

2 eggs

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1/4 cup sour cream

1 1/2 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 cup orange juice

1 to 2 teaspoons grated orange peel

Mini-Chip Streusel

1/2 cup semisweet chocolate mini-chips

Cream butter and sugar in large mixer bowl. Add eggs and vanilla and beat well. Blend in sour cream. Combine flour, baking powder and baking soda in small bowl. Add to butter mixture alternately with orange juice, blending well. Stir in orange peel.

Pour half of batter into greased 9-inch-square pan. Sprinkle half of Mini-Chip Streusel containing chocolate chips evenly over batter. Spoon remaining batter into pan and spread evenly to cover streusel. Sprinkle remaining streusel over top. Bake at 350 degrees 30 minutes or until cake tester inserted in center comes out clean. Sprinkle with chocolate mini chips. Serve warm or cold. Makes 9 servings.

Mini-Chip Streusel

2/3 cup brown sugar, packed

1/2 cup chopped walnuts

1/2 cup semisweet chocolate mini chips

Combine sugar and walnuts. Divide mixture in half. Add chocolate chips to one half.

CHOCOLATE-ALMOND COFFEECAKE

1/2 cup butter

Granulated sugar

1 teaspoon salt

1 package dry yeast

1/4 cup warm water

1/2 cup warm milk

4 eggs

3 1/2 cups flour

1 cup almond paste

1/2 cup superfine granulated sugar

1/2 cup cocoa

1/2 teaspoon almond extract

1/2 cup roasted almonds, finely chopped

Cream butter with 1/4 cup granulated sugar and salt. Dissolve yeast in warm water, add a dash sugar and let stand until bubbly. Add yeast mixture, milk, eggs and flour to creamed mixture. Mix well. Cover and let rise in warm place 2 hours or until mixture doubles.

Combine almond paste, superfine sugar, cocoa and almond extract. Generously butter 8-cup fluted tube pan. Sprinkle pan with chopped almonds and 1 tablespoon granulated sugar. Punch down dough. Place 1/3 of dough in prepared pan, building up around tube. Sprinkle with half of almond paste mixture. Repeat, ending with dough. Seal edges of dough to pan with floured hands. Bake at 400 degrees 40 minutes. Remove from pan and cool on wire rack. Makes 1 coffeecake.

STICKY COFFEECAKE

1 cup milk

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup butter or margarine

1/4 cup warm water

1 package dry yeast

1 egg

4 1/2 cups flour

1/2 cup brown sugar, packed 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1/4 cup honey

1/2 cup chopped pecans

Scald milk. Stir in 1/2 cup granulated sugar, salt and 1/2 cup butter. Cool to lukewarm. Measure warm water into large bowl, sprinkle in yeast and stir to dissolve. Stir in lukewarm milk mixture, egg and 2 cups flour. Beat until smooth. Add remaining flour to make a dough stiff enough to knead. Turn out onto lightly floured surface and knead 5 minutes. Place dough in greased bowl, cover and let rise until doubled.

Meanwhile, combine remaining 1 cup granulated sugar, brown sugar and cinnamon in bowl. Set aside. Melt remaining 1/2 cup butter and stir in honey. Grease 10-inch tube pan and sprinkle nuts in bottom. Punch down dough, turn out and knead a few moments. Pinch off pieces of dough about 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Form each into ball. Dip first in butter-honey mixture, then in sugar mixture. Arrange in layers in prepared pan, leaving a little space between balls to allow for rising. Sprinkle any leftover sugar mixture over top. Cover and let rise until doubled.

Bake at 400 degrees 45 minutes. Cover with foil if top browns too much. If tube pan with removable bottom is used and bottom section does not fit tightly, melted sugar mixture may drip through. In this case, place sheet of foil underneath pan. Let cake cool in pan on rack 10 to 15 minutes. Invert onto serving platter, using nut side as top. Scrape out any nut mixture that remains in pan and spread on top of coffeecake. Serve warm. Makes 8 to 10 servings.

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