One of my most treasured possessions is my Mom’s recipe box containing hand written recipes from three generations of family and friends. One of them is a fairly basic spiced coffee cake recipe with a swirl of sugar and cinnamon running through it that I have made many times. Yesterday I decided to give it a makeover, reducing the total sugar content (originally 2½ cups!) and including some fruit and nuts to make it both tastier and healthier. I decided to use red skinned apples for sweetness, substitute olive oil for the original fat and change up the spices and flavouring a bit as well. When it came to the nuts I wanted something mild but full of flavour, so I chose hazelnuts.
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to sell this as a healthy option. It’s still cake, and it’s still got almost 2 cups of sugar in it! However I firmly believe we all need a treat once in a while, and this is a seriously delicious treat. It makes a lovely breakfast, but it’s also wonderful served warm with cream or ice cream later in the day. Or you can try it for ‘elevenses’ the wonderful British tradition of a cup of coffee or tea with a snack served at (you guessed it) eleven am.
Hazelnut Apple Coffee Cake
Filling and Topping
1½ cups chopped hazelnuts
⅓ cup sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
2¾ cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
1½ cups granulated sugar
3 large eggs, free range, organic or pasture raised if possible
1 cup olive oil
1 cup grated apple (about 2 apples, peeled and grated)
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 cup sour cream
Preheat the oven to 350°F (170°C). Grease a large bundt or tube pan.
Mix the filling ingredients together in a small bowl. Set aside.
Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt together into a medium bowl. Set aside.
Beat the eggs and sugar together until they are light in colour and fluffy. This will take about two minutes. Add the olive oil and almond extract and beat on low speed, or whisk in if mixing by hand.
Peel the apples and grate them into the flour mixture. Stir lightly just to mix. Add the flour and apple mixture to the egg mixture and beat together until just incorporated. Fold in the sour cream gently but thoroughly, just until no white streaks remain.
Pour half the batter into the bundt or tube pan, spreading it evenly along the bottom of the pan. Sprinkle evenly with half of the nutty filling mixture.
Carefully pour /spread the remaining cake batter over the filling mixture. Use a knife to carefully spread it right to the sides of the cake pan. Sprinkle the remaining filling/topping mixture evenly over top, pressing lightly but firmly into the cake batter with your clean hands.
Bake for 45 to 55 minutes, or until a skewer inserted in the centre of the cake comes out clean. Cook in the pan for 20 minutes.
Taking the cake out of the pan without losing some of the topping can be tricky, but it’s definitely do-able. You just need two cooling racks and a large piece of greaseproof / wax paper. Place the greaseproof paper over the top of the cake and put one of the cooling racks on top. Using oven gloves as the pan will still be quite hot, invert the cake onto the rack so that the wax paper is still covering the topping. (A bit of it will fall off, but don’t worry.) Immediately place the second cooling rack on what is now the top of the cake and holding onto both racks firmly, flip the cake over so that the topping is indeed on top. (Again you may lose a bit of topping, but if you are quick, you won’t lose much.) Remove the greaseproof paper and allow to cool for at least another half hour before slicing.