It’s all German to me

My daughter Lauren left for Germany on Sunday.  She’ll be working on an American army base for 4 months, completing an internship for her minor – Youth and Non-profit Leadership.  I am hoping she likes the food there,  she loves all types of foods – just not meat.  We’re all set up with Skype to see and talk with her and of course email will be incredibly important as the weeks zoom by.  She has also started a blog to keep the extended family and friends up to speed on her travels and experiences.  If you’d like to check it out, click here.  We’re expecting to see lots of great photos as photography is one of the things Lauren excels at (along with cooking, writing, etc.).

Anyway, as we made the drive back from Indianapolis on Sunday I recalled a German Coffee Cake recipe that I hadn’t made in quite a while.  I thought now would be a great time to post it. 

I am embarrassed to say that I can not remember the name of the person that gifted me with this recipe.  Working in a medical office, we were routinely brought food from someone who made a batch of this or that and wanted to share.  Sometimes people would bring stuff just to show off their culinary prowess, win friends and influence people.  I’m not mentioning any names…

This woman that worked in a close-by department actually had parents of German descent and they brought this cake to us from time to time.  It was so good, I had to beg for the recipe.  It didn’t take much cajoling to get a copy.  But, when I looked it over, I could hardly believe it.  No butter, only 1 egg and simple, really simple.  It makes sense, I guess.  A landlocked country with a history of rural and poor economics would certainly create many frugal recipes.

If I were to be asked for a recipe for someone just starting out baking, a sure fire, no fuss cake – this would be it.  Even though I forget about it sometimes, when I do get around to baking this cake, I’ll do it several times before I put the recipe back in my files for a bit.  The cake has a tender crumb and a crunchy-sweet streusel topping.  The best part about that is that the streusel is a part of the cake batter’s first stage, so no separate mix (or bowl) is necessary.  It’s great for breakfast, coffee breaks and good enough for a weekday dessert.   The cake stays moist for 3-5 days, if it lasts that long.

Traditionally, this cake was baked in a 9×13″ pan, but I have experimented with lots of other choices.  Two 8″  round cake pans work well, as do muffin tins, a 10″ square pan and 4″ ramekins for sort of a ‘crumb cake’ effect.  Today when I made it, I used only 1 bowl, a whisk and a rubber spatula.  So, even if you don’t have a mixer you could pull it off.  No excuses.

German Coffee Cake

German Coffee Cake

  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1 cup oil
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp soda
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • powdered sugar

Prepare a 9×13″ pan by spraying or buttering lightly.  Preheat oven to 350.

Stir together the sugars, flour and salt.  Add the oil and mix until crumbly.  (You can do this part with your hands.)  Remove 1 cup of this mixture, lightly packed, and set aside.  To the remaining mixture in the bowl, add the soda, cinnamon and nutmeg.  Mix until combined, then add the egg and milk.  Mix well with a whisk.  Scrape into the prepared pan. Add the chopped walnuts to the reserved cup of crumb mixture and sprinkle evenly over the cake. 

...ready to bake

Bake for about 40 minutes or until the center springs back when lightly touched.  Remove from the oven and cool. 

...waiting to cool and cut

Gently cut into portions and sprinkle generously with powdered sugar. 

Enjoy!

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