Lillian Kaplun. This is the woman who’s name is on the cover of the first cook book belonging to me. And the second cook book and the third … but I only ever used the first. I felt a personal kinship to her: as a young wife my mother, who was always a really good cook and a great baker, took baking lessons from Lillian Kaplun. Many years before that, Ms. Kaplun lived in a small Northern Ontario town, where my maternal grandmother lived as a young bride — my grandmother always claimed that the recipe for Banana Cake with Chocolate Icing (a dessert staple in our house!), was actually her own! Oh, how intertwined!!
Today, my For The Love of Baking cookbook is used almost exclusively for one thing: Sour Cream Coffee Cake. All of my children eat this cake, even the two who don’t like cakes or cookies! It’s often made as a dessert … but eaten as a breakfast! Tonight, as I mixed together the ingredients for yet another Sour Cream Coffee Cake, my husband smiled and said, “I can hardly wait for breakfast”! One of my non-dessert eaters requests it as his birthday cake every single year, as well as almost every time he comes home to visit!
Although I seldom follow a recipe exactly without making a few changes here and there, this is one recipe I always follow [almost] exactly. This is a classic coffee cake. It’s always the same; a lovely crumb, light yet buttery rich, airy yet moist.
I’m not sure how long it keeps since it’s never lasted around my kitchen for longer than a couple of days. If there’s few of us around I often split the recipe and bake it in two 8″ springform pans, (otherwise I’ll end up eating whatever’s left!!), however it doesn’t make as tall a cake as when in one 9″ pan. I like to freeze the second cake after it completely cools down. When it does make it to the freezer, it’s nice to have it there, readily available.
Sour Cream Coffee Cake
The few changes I make:
I increase the topping amounts by approximately 50%: instead of 1/4 cup dark brown sugar I use 1/3 cup, and instead of 1 tsp cinnamon I use 2 tsp. If I make this for my family I seldom use nuts (their preference, no other reason), but if I make it for someone else I almost always add either chopped walnuts or pecans in the topping.
I like vanilla and tend to free-pour, adding closer to 2 tsp rather than just the 1 tsp called for.
Finally, when I bake the recipe in two 8″ springform pans, I bake it for 25-28 minutes, but always start checking it at 25.
I use Light Sour Cream and so far no one has noticed, let alone complained! Read the ingredient list, most have many additives which are unnecessary. I like Daisy Brand (three ingredients and no preservatives), or Trader Joe’s (fairly comparable).
Put parchment paper at the bottom of your well greased pan. Add half the batter and spread it evenly to coat the bottom. Sprinkle half of the sugar-cinnamon topping. Put the remainder of the batter on top and spread to cover the sugar mixture. Sprinkle the top with the remaining mixture. Note: if you are preparing two pans, you would only put a quarter of the batter in each pan and spread the bottom layer then only a quarter of the cinnamon-sugar mixture, and repeat.