Buttery, crumbly cake, usually spiced with cinnamon, and topped with buttery, crunchy crumbs. Sometimes with a hint of cocoa running through the cake, sometimes not. Always that light, but rich cake crumb. Is there anything more comforting than the concept of coffee cake? An entire cake, made of nothing more than butter, sugar, flour, eggs, spices, etc, which exists not for any reason other than to accompany a cup of coffee. That humanity deemed it so necessary for this hot, dark, bitter beverage to have an accompaniment is incredibly reassuring to me.
The idea of a coffee break being important crops up in so many places around the world. The Swedish have their Fika, the Danes have hygge, the Brits have their tea break, the Japanese their tea ceremony, Austrians have a grand tradition of coffee houses, as do the French, and Italians probably couldn’t function without their syrupy cups of espresso. In Greece the coffee is perhaps even stronger, and accompanied by a sugary-sweet pastry, the Turks seem to have introduced their coffee to half of southern Europe, spreading to Bosnia and Herzegovina, Iran, Egypt, Syria and plenty of other places as well. In India they drink Chai, black tea in Sri Lanka, in China fine green or white teas.
Geo-political and philosophical differences aside, it’s not hard to imagine people in any part of the world needing a minute. Coffee is the perfect excuse for that. It’s the perfect thing to turn to when you just need to take a minute to either turn your mind to a particular problem, or turn your brain off completely. Either way, totally legitimate if there is a mug of something hot in your hand. And in my opinion, your other hand needs to be doing something too. Why not holding a donut?
These coffee cake donuts are perfect alongside a coffee, since they star sweet cinnamon, nutmeg and cocoa, who all play very nicely with a latte. The base is a simple, buttery classic coffee cake, heady with cinnamon, and the streusel is a crunchy rubble of cocoa. These are a baked donut, too, so a healthy choice to start the week (WINK). I love the combination of chocolate and cinnamon, because it seems very old-world and comforting to me. And a little old world comfort and a damn break is just exactly what I need this Monday!
- 1 cup (150g) plain flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- pinch of salt
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- ½ cup (110g) brown sugar
- 1 egg
- ½ cup milk
- 2 tbsp olive oil (or canola or grapeseed oil)
- 1 tsp vanilla bean paste (or extract)
- 2oz (50g) butter, melted
- 2 tbsp brown sugar
- 1 tbsp caster sugar
- pinch of salt
- ⅓ cup (50g) plain flour
- ¼ cup (25g) cocoa powder
- Preheat the oven to 180C/350F and get out a 12 hole donut pan (mine are about 21/2 inches in diameter - the number of donuts will change depending on the pan).
- Place all the ingredients for the donuts, in order, into a large mixing bowl and stir together until combined and lump free. Pipe or spoon the mixture into the donut pan, filling each one no more than halfway full.
- Stir together all the ingredients for the streusel into a clumpy mass, and scatter evenly over all the donuts.
- Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until they spring back when touched.
- Cool on a wire rack and serve - these are great warm.