Oh, coffee cake. Sweet, cinnamony, delicious, coffee cake. I try to avoid making it with any frequency because I honestly can't pull myself away (I still make it A LOT). There is just no time of day to completely rule it out. It's sweet enough to be dessert, but it also doubles as breakfast or a snack. Maybe this is just a personal problem. I have put a lot of things in this category.

I've tried a lot of coffee cake recipes over the years. I want something that will keep moisture for a few days and has very few bites without cinnamon crumble or filling...a little glaze never hurt either. This coffee cake as is already has plenty of cinnamon sugar topping, but I added a layer of cinnamon sugar to the middle as well. You may think that's a bit overboard, I personally do not. I have been called a diet-killer for reasons such as this. 

I have a few go-to coffee cakes, and this is now going to be one of them. It's easy to whip up, and it has everything you'd want in a coffee cake. I may even add some mini chocolate chips instead of the middle layer next time and try that out (...ok, I might add them and keep the middle layer as well). The point is, take it from a self-proclaimed coffee cake aficionado, this recipe is a keeper.
Cinnamon Roll Coffee Cake with Cream Cheese Glaze
Recipe slightly adapted from Love Veggies and Yoga
Yield: one 9-by-3-inch cake

Warm buttery cinnamon rolls, a moist and dense cake with a crumble topping, and cream cheese glaze are all favorites of mine, and I rolled all of them into this one easy-to-make cake. You don't actually need to make cinnamon rolls to make the cake. Rather, the finish cake just tastes like a cinnamon roll. Although there are three components - the cake, filling-topping, and the glaze - this is a very fast and straightforward cake to make and isn't fussy at all. In just one hour, including baking time, it's ready and in that one hour, your house will smell amazing while it bakes.

For the Cake
1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened (half of one stick)
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup sour cream (Greek yogurt may be substituted)
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt, optional and to taste

For the Filling-Topping
1 cup and 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, extremely soft and almost melted
1 1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
3 teaspoons cinnamon

For the Glaze
2 tablespoons cream cheese, softened (whipped or light are okay)
2 tablespoons cream or milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup+ confectioners' sugar, sifted is ideal


For the Cake - Preheat oven to 350F and prepare a 9-inch springform pan (at least 3 inches high; a 9-inch square baking pan may be substituted if it's at least 3 inches in height; don't use a 9-inch round cake pan because it's too shallow) by spraying well with floured cooking spray (I use Pam for Baking) or grease and flour the pan; set aside. 

To the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine butter, granulated sugar, and cream together until pale, light, and fluffy, about 3 minutes on medium-high to high speed. Add the sour cream, eggs, oil, vanilla, cinnamon, and beat until smooth and incorporated, about 3 minutes on medium-high to high speed. Add the flour, baking soda, salt, and beat until just incorporated and batter is smooth, about 1 minute on medium speed. Spread 1/2 of the batter into prepared pan; set aside.

For the Filling-Topping - In a medium-microwave safe bowl, add the butter and heat on high power until it just begins to melt, about 1 minute. Add the brown sugar, cinnamon, and beat with a spoon or whisk until combined. Spread/sprinkle filling over the top of the first half of the cake batter. You don't need to make sure the filling covers every part of this layer--just make sure it's evenly distributed. Next, add the second half of the cake batter. Spread remaining filling in an even, smooth, flat layer, as if you're frosting a cake. Then, using a table knife, swirl back and forth to marble the filling into the cake batter, going over the cake and going up and back a few times. Place pan on a baking sheet (as insurance in case your springform pan doesn't have a perfect seal) and bake for about 45 to 50 minutes, or until topping has set and a toothpick inserted into the center of cake comes out clean. Note that in the final minutes of baking, topping may have a tendency to burn near the edges as the butter browns and the brown sugar caramelizes; watch cake closely. Allow cake to cool in pan and rest on baking sheet for at least 30 minutes before glazing it, or before removing it from the pan and serving. 

For the Glaze - In a medium bowl, combine cream cheese, cream, vanilla and whisk until combined and smooth. Slowly add the confectioners' sugar, whisking to incorporate and until smooth. Based on desired glaze consistency, playing with the sugar and cream ratios may be necessary. Evenly drizzle the glaze over cake and serve. Note - If you prefer to refrigerate cream-cheese based glaze, you may wish to only glaze individual pieces of cake immediately prior to serving them and store the glaze in small container in the refrigerator, as opposed to refrigerating the entire glazed cake, which will cause it to dry out. Or, you can glaze the cake and store it at room temperature anyway, as everyone has different food storage comfort levels. Cake will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days.

For two months this summer I lived 20 feet away from a Trader Joe's. Sometimes I'd go multiple times in a day. I went and got free samples almost every day (is that even allowed?). I became addicted to their dark chocolate espresso beans. I have been both the first and the last person in the store. Let's just say it was an obsession. Another of my favorite things about Trader Joe's was their 19 cent bananas. 19 cents!? Bananas have to be the most affordable fruit out there. I'd go and stock up and bake banana bread galore. 

Well, now I don't live next to a Trader Joe's, and even though bananas are only 75 cents, I haven't purchased them since the summer. Maybe I've just been mourning the loss of a convenient grocery store. Thankfully I've come to my senses. So, I'm starting back my banana craze with these great banana muffins with cream cheese frosting. Bananas and cream cheese...it's perfection. 

Banana Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

2-2/3 cups All Purpose Flour
1 1/4 tsp Baking Soda
1/2 tsp salt
1-1/2 sticks butter
1 cup light brown sugar
3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 ripe bananas, mashed
1/2 cup buttermilk (milk or coconut milk can be used here as well)
1 cup shredded coconut (I skipped them since I didn’t have any in hand)

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F. Whisk the flour, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, beat butter with a kitchen mixer using paddle attachment. Add sugar and beat for a few minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time while continue to beat at low speed and vanilla. The mixture will be silky smooth – add banana and lower speed.

Mix in the flour and buttermilk alternately, beginning and ending with the flour.

Fill into cupcake pans (fill up about 2/3-full, you should get approximately 18 cupcakes), bake them for about 18-minutes or until a tooth pick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Alternatively, you can also bake these as layered cakes, pour into 2 9-inch pans, and bake for 45 minutes. Cool for 5 minutes in pan before inverting on wire rack to cool.

The cupcakes can be stored in room temperature for up to 2 days, or they will become dense and unappealing!

Yield: ~18 cupcakes

Cream Cheese Frosting

8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Make frosting: Beat cream cheese and butter with 1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar. Continue to beat while adding remaining sugar 1/4 cup at a time. Add vanilla, and beat until fluffy, about 5 minutes.

Ok, I know we're past pumpkin season. Not wearing white after labor day? I'm from the south. That's a seasonal rule I can respect. Not eating pumpkin after November? Nope. I do not let the seasons get in the way of my food cravings. I'd eat cobbler year round if the fruit stayed available. I also am making ice cream this weekend, so you can expect that post next week. 

Truthfully, I made this cake for Thanksgiving. It was very in season at the time. I didn't post it because the pictures are rather blah, but I've been thinking about it ever since. It's one of the best cakes I've made recently, and maybe one of the top ever. The rich icing pairs perfectly with the flavorful pumpkin. It's not an in-your-face spiced pumpkin flavor. It's subtle. The pumpkin also makes it so that the cake isn't dry at all, and will stay delicious for a few days. Basically, if you're ok with abandoning your seasonal convictions, this is the way to do it.

Pumpkin Dream Cake with Cinnamon Maple Cream Cheese Frosting
Recipe from The Novice Chef

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
2 cups granulated sugar
3 large eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 (15 oz) can pumpkin
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 cup milk

12 oz (1 1/2 packages) cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
3 tablespoons pure maple syrup
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 teaspoons cinnamon
6 cups powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 300°F. Grease 3, 8-inch round cake pans.* Set aside.

In a medium bowl, mix flour, baking soda and salt. Set aside.

In a large bowl/stand mixer, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then stir in vanilla, pumpkin and vegetable oil. Beat in the flour mixture alternately with the milk.

Divide batter evenly into prepared pans. Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Remove pans from oven and immediately place in freezer for 45 minutes. (This keeps the cake moist by immediately stopping the baking so the cake does not continue to bake when you remove it from the oven.)

For the frosting: In a large bowl, cream butter and cream cheese until smooth. Beat in maple syrup, vanilla and cinnamon. Add confectioners' sugar and beat on low speed until combined, then on high until frosting is smooth.

Assemble the 3 layers with a thick layer of frosting in between each layer. Then apply a thin crumb coat on the top and sides. Pop back in the freezer to harden the crumb coat for about 10 minutes.

Apply one final thick and even layer around the outside of the cake. Store in the fridge until ready to serve.

*I managed to lose a few cake pans, so I just used two. How one loses cake pans is beyond me. 

Happy 2013 everyone! I hope you all are enjoying these first few days of 2013. My immune system and I are constantly at odds, so I am kicking off the year with some random sickness that feels like strep (but apparently is not according to some shady urgent care I went to yesterday). I may be subsisting off of soup until my throat feels better, but that's no reason to deprive you all of resolution-breaking sweets.

I'm actually looking forward to seeing how my blog impressions change from December to January, though I know things won't shift in the baking blog world's favor. December is a big month for food, especially for baking. January, not so much. Everyone is trying to avoid temptation and pretend they don't like chocolate, carbs and sugar. While I applaud your 2013 healthy eating goals, there's no need to deprive yourself altogether. Haven't you seen those studies that say people who don't cut things off completely are better in their weight loss efforts than those who swear off all sweets? Every time I see one of those I make a mental note so as to further justify my eating habits.

If you are going to make a dessert in January, make it a good one. You need something that a) is worth you breaking your resolution and b) you will have no problem sharing. So, I bring you these amazing Oreo Cheesecake Brownies. They're worth it.


Oreo Cheesecake Brownies
Recipe from Cannella Vita

1/2 cup unsalted butter
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 package (8 oz) cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup confectioners' sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened dark cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1 1/3 cups coarsely chopped Oreo cookies

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter the bottom and sides of a 8 inch metal baking pan. Put a long piece of parchment paper in the bottom of the pan, letting the parchment extend up two sides of the pan and overhang slightly on both ends. (This will make it easy to remove the bars from the pan after they have baked.) Butter the parchment.

In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt butter. Whisk in sugar and bring to a boil, whisking frequently; boil 1 minute. Set aside to cool for 5 minutes.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together cream cheese, confectioners' sugar and vanilla extract until combined, about 1 minute. In a medium bowl, sift together flour, cocoa powder and salt; whisk until combined. In a large bowl, whisk together eggs until combined. Whisk in melted butter-sugar mixture until well combined. Stir in flour mixture until just combined, followed by Oreo cookies.

Spread half of brownie batter into the prepared baking dish, followed by cream cheese layer. Distribute the remaining brownie mixture in 8 dollops over the cheesecake layer and spread evenly. Swirl in with a knife or spatula.

Bake for 24-28 minutes, until brownies and cheesecake are set. A knife inserted into the cheesecake mixture should come out clean and the edges will be lightly browned.
Let cool completely in pan on a cooling rack before lifting out the parchment paper to remove the brownies.