July 21, 2022

My grandmother Mary called this Aunt Sophie’s Yum Yum coffee cake. She made it every time I visited, well into her 90s. It’s a sure winner, everyone loves it. Tender, buttery, cinnamon shot through the center, and toasty, sugary pecans (or walnuts) on top. It’s a great cake to have on hand for afternoon garden visitors, houseguests, or for yourself because you deserve it. You must use a tube style pan with removable bottom (not a Bundt). If you don’t have one, they’re inexpensive and great for this and for angel food cake. And there are some hacks that I haven’t tried. 

For the filling

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

3/4 cup (150 g) packed dark brown sugar

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

For the topping

1/3 cup (65 g) packed dark brown sugar

1/4 cup (65 g) granulated sugar

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 cup (100 g) pecans or walnuts, toasted and chopped (see NOTE)

For the cake

8 tablespoons (226 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more for the pan

2 cups (240 g) flour, plus more for the pan

1 cup (200 g) granulated sugar

2 large eggs, at room temperature

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup (227 g) sour cream

For the filling: Stir together the melted butter, brown sugar and cinnamon in a medium bowl.

For the topping: Stir together the brown and granulated sugars, the cinnamon and the toasted, chopped nuts in another medium bowl.

For the cake: Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Use the removable bottom of the pan as a template to cut a parchment round with a hole in the center (corresponding with the pan’s tube center). Generously grease the pan with butter, and then coat it well with flour, shaking out any excess. Place the parchment in the bottom of the pan, then butter and flour the parchment.

Combine the 8 tablespoons of butter and the granulated sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer or handheld mixer; beat on medium speed for several minutes, until the mixture is pale, light, and fluffy. Stop to scrape down the bowl.

On medium speed, add the eggs one at a time, beating to incorporate after each addition. Add the vanilla extract, beating just until well blended. Stop to scrape down the bowl.

Whisk together the 2 cups of flour, the baking soda, baking powder and salt in a bowl. On low speed, add half that mixture to the mixer bowl, then the sour cream, then the remaining flour mixture. Beat on low speed just until no streaks of flour remain.

Add half the batter to the pan, using a large spoon to place it around the bottom, then use the back of a spoon or an offset spatula to gently spread it evenly. Scatter the filling over the batter. Spoon the remaining batter in big plops over the filling (they don’t have to be spread and will come together fine in the oven), then sprinkle the topping evenly over the surface.

Bake for 55 minutes or until a tester inserted into the thickest part of the cake comes out clean. Cool completely.

To remove the cake, carefully run a knife around the inside of the pan and around the tube center of the pan. Lift the center out so the cake is still on the removable bottom. Lift the cake over the tube center or let the removable bottom drop and transfer the cake to a plate. Slide the parchment out.

Wrap the cake in plastic wrap or store under a dome at room temperature for up to 4 days. Or wrap the cake in plastic wrap and foil and freeze for up to 1 month.


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