Plum Pecan Coffee Cake

Things I learned this week:

1. I take walking uphill at sea-level altitude for granted.

2. Running at sea-level altitude will never feel as easy as when you have just come back from nine days in the Rocky Mountains.

3. I take baking at sea-level altitude for granted.

Vail Mountain

Crazy-beautiful Colorado.

After a wonderful pre-3L trip to Colorado, I am back in action in my own kitchen, where the baked goods rise exactly like they’re supposed to.  And that’s something for which I never even thought to be grateful until talking to someone who’s been baking at over 9,000′ for the last three months!  Although I have to say, landing and seeing the altimeter drop to a paltry 17′ was sort of sad.  But I love my swampy home.  Mostly.  Except for that whole humidity thing…Can’t win ’em all, I guess.

Plum Pecan Coffee CakeApologies for the back-to-back cake posts.  I am choosing to justify this repetition because one is a cakey cake (the technical term) and one is a coffee cake.  Although I certainly wouldn’t judge you if you decided to have a funfetti-filled breakfast.  And I also just ate some of this coffee cake for dessert.  So basically what I’m saying is that it’s a cake free-for-all and I have no regrets.

Plum Pecan Coffee Cake

Pretty plums! To be honest they looked better than they tasted, which is why I decided to bake ’em instead of continuing to eat one for my lunch.

This coffee cake involves one of my favorite combos: plums and pecans.  They look so nice together in a galette (do it!), so I thought they’d play nicely in a coffee cake too.  My only regret is that the streusel-y top covered up the pretty red plums.  But as regrets go, that one’s pretty live with-able.

Plus, when you slice in and see the pretty plums peeking through, it makes you feel better about the whole thing anyway.

Plus, when you slice in and see the pretty plums peeking through, it makes you feel better about the whole thing anyway.

As baking projects go, this one is pretty darn easy, and the streusel top is all but guaranteed to impress your breakfast/brunch/dessert/anytime guests, even though it’s a 60-second effort.  Now is the perfect time to break this coffee cake out– you can make it with whatever stone fruit you happen to have on hand!

Plum Pecan Coffee Cake (adapted from Williams-Sonoma)

For the streusel:

  • 3/4 c. Flour
  • 1/3 c. Brown Sugar
  • 1/4 c. Sugar
  • 1 t. Cinnamon
  • 6 T. cold Butter, cut into small pieces

Combine first four ingredients in a bowl, then use a pastry cutter or your fingers to cut/rub in the butter until mixture is crumbly.  Use your fingers because it works better and it’s more fun.  Set aside.

For the cake:

  • 1 1/2 c. Flour
  • 3/4 c. Sugar
  • 2 t. Baking Powder
  • 1/2 t. Salt
  • 1 Egg
  • 4 T. Butter, melted
  • 1/2 c. Milk
  • 1 1/2 t. Vanilla (be GENEROUS, per usual)
  • 2-3 ripe plums, sliced

Grease and flour a 9″ cake pan and preheat oven to 350.  Stir together dry ingredients and set aside.  In a large bowl,  beat egg, butter, milk, and vanilla til creamy.  Add in dry mixture, combining just until the batter is moist.  Spread batter in prepared pan and arrange plums in concentric circles (or in my case, an as-yet-to-be-named shape that looks like wonky nothingness).  Sprinkle evenly with streusel and bake for 40 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean.

Note: This recipe makes a lot of streusel topping, and since I had an extra plum lying around, I made the cake batter a second time and made around ten cupcake versions of the coffee cake, which baked for around 25 minutes.  You could also store the streusel topping in an air-tight container in the fridge and use it in another recipe within a few days.

Vanilla Spill

You may want to avoid one (unplanned) step that I took in making this recipe: maybe don’t accidentally knock your big, brand-new bottle of vanilla extract over and dump almost all of its contents on your floor. Just a thought. Though both your feet and your floor will smell nice. But still. Not worth it, methinks.

Every year before school starts I feel compelled to have a sort of “last hurrah” in the kitchen– I know life’s about to get crazy busy, and I get irrationally worried that I’ll never have time to cook again.  And every year I’m wrong.  But here we are and I feel this way yet again.  With this being my last year of law school, it may very well be the last time I ever experience this particular feeling.  How weird is that?!  19 years later I’m finally going to have my last first day of school.  I think.  God, I hope.  No more, I can’t afford it!  We shall see what the rest of this week of adventurous cooking brings about.  Til then, I’m content to  cuddle up with my coffee cake.  Kthxbai.  (did I do that right?)