Grab-n-Go Coffee Cake

Coffee cake is pure marketing brilliance. Let’s face it, it’s cake. But simply by calling it ‘coffee cake’ it’s transformed from a dessert into an acceptable breakfast, at least in my mother’s household. I’m not complaining but instead am fascinated how this can happen.

This past weekend we met up with friends for a brunch picnic. I contemplated what to make and found myself thumbing through a book which I hadn’t spent much time reading. I discovered an apple coffee cake recipe that looked good and decided to boost it with a few fresh blueberries.

Coffee Cake

Since it was a picnic, I decided to wrap each piece in wax paper for easy transport and eating. I also didn’t want to carry around a baking pan all day and figured this wrapping technique alleviated the issue. I wrapped each piece, then stacked in a bag. Easy, grab-n-go coffee cake.

The recipe comes from a fairly recent book Entertaining Simple by lifestyle guru Matthew Mead. I received a review copy of the book from the publisher and immediately loved the staggering amount of beautiful photography it contained. The book contains recipes but focuses heavily on food presentation, tablescape and serving ideas.

You can browse a few pages of the book from his website.

Although the coffee cake is delicious and super moist, the recipe seemed too vague in regard to the size of baking pan which lead to some frustration during the baking process. Something doesn’t match up with the photo of this recipe either.

It states to use a 9-inch glass baking dish. I assume this is a round baking dish as the photo shows a round coffee cake. I used a rectangular pan of similar volume and it was far too small (i.e. not even close). Based on my experience with this recipe (i.e. taking much longer to bake and spilling over the edges while baking), the pan would need to be more than 2 inches in height, which wasn’t specified.

Oddly, the coffee cake photo from the book doesn’t look very tall at all, maybe 1.5 inches in height. With the amount of ingredients, make a 9-inch round coffee cake of 1.5 inches in height would not be humanly possible. My cake turned out close to 3 inches in height from a similar sized pan. Additionally, the recipe took twice as long to bake as specified. Maybe the pan size noted is completely wrong (?). I’m going to send off an email and see if Matthew can elaborate on the possible issue. I’ll update this post if I hear back from him.

Blueberry-Apple Coffee Bake
based on a recipe from Entertaining Simple

1/2 cup butter, plus 2 teaspoons for greasing baking dish
1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
2 eggs
2 cups flour
1 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 apple, peeled and thinly sliced
1/2 cup fresh blueberries

1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 tablespoons butter

Use 2 teaspoons of butter to liberally grease baking dish, at least 2 inches in height. Preheat oven to 350F (175C). I used a rectangular pan 11x7x1.5 (similar volume to that of a 9-inch round dish) and found it too small for the amount of batter. I could consider a 9x12x2 baking dish next time.

Add butter and brown sugar to a mixing bowl and whip until blended and lightly fluffy. Add eggs and beat until combined.

Slowly add flour and sour cream, alternating between the two until fully combined. Add cinnamon, salt, and vanilla. Mix until all ingredients are combined.

Fold in apples and blueberries, then pour into prepared baking dish.

In a small bowl, add the topping ingredients. Using your fingers, pinch the ingredients together until the butter is evenly blended with the flour and sugar. Pinch the topping together with your fingers and crumble it as you drop onto the top of the coffee cake batter.

Place the baking dish onto the center rack in the oven and bake for 35-40 minutes (per the book instructions). At 45 minutes, my cake was extremely wobbly, not even close to being done. I continued to bake and checked in 5 minute intervals. It took closer to 65-70 minutes to test done.

Top of Coffee Cake

Allow the cake to cool before cutting. I refrigerated overnight and sliced the following morning.

Coffee Cake Bundles

Even though I feared the coffee cake would never finish baking, it did taste great and had a wonderfully moist texture. The addition of blueberries helped to increase the flavor and worked perfectly with the apple. Everyone at the brunch seemed to enjoy them and appreciated the individual wrapping!

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Comments on this entry are closed.

  • cathy/showfoodchef August 10, 2009, 2:25 pm

    Love the pics and packaging. I’ve called a chocolate cupcake a muffin before just so I could feel fine about having it for breakfast. Love your blog, too.

  • dawn August 10, 2009, 2:35 pm

    Oh heavens yes. Grab and go, and grab again. Awesome photos.

  • Cody August 10, 2009, 2:49 pm

    Looks tasty. I just made my first coffee cake not too long ago.

    It seems I’ve found quite a few recipes in cookbooks that don’t quite match the photo. Frustrating.

  • food librarian August 10, 2009, 4:24 pm

    I love the coffee cake! And this one looks sooo delicious!!

  • food librarian August 10, 2009, 4:25 pm

    P.S. Bummed you won’t be at SF BlogHer Food!!!

  • heather August 10, 2009, 5:59 pm

    Genius! I love this idea – looks fabulous!



  • molly August 10, 2009, 6:04 pm


    The fantastically wonderful Coffee Song!!

  • Michelle August 10, 2009, 6:47 pm

    Love the sounds of this recipe. And it looks delicious too. Great job on the presentation!

  • Jen @ MaplenCornbread August 10, 2009, 7:00 pm

    These sound SO good!!! I love the presentation of, so wonderful!!

  • Peter G August 11, 2009, 12:46 am

    Interesting to note your variations from the original recipes Allen. These cakes are fantastic for picnics and deliciously easy to prepare…thanks for sharing!

  • nina August 11, 2009, 1:24 am

    For a hubby who is not the world’s best breakfast eater, this is a great idea!!! I love your presentation too!!!

  • Karen U August 11, 2009, 6:22 am

    I love coffee cakes. I make a “standard” recipe that has been passed down from my mother that I can tailor to my personal taste and pantry. What I have found is that if a recipe calls for 2 cups of flour and about 2 cups of sugar and 1 cup of liquid, it bakes ups in a 13×9 pan or 12 muffins.

  • kat August 11, 2009, 7:32 am

    I get so frustrated when recipes are vague about things like that especially when it comes to baking! Anyway looks like you sorted it out & made a beautiful cake…I mean breakfast

  • Jeff August 11, 2009, 2:25 pm

    It was delicious. Folk are still talking about the wrapping spectacle. Genius.

  • cakebrain August 11, 2009, 3:43 pm

    gorgeous looking coffee cake! My pet peeve is when a recipe is vague. Good thing your foodie instincts kicked in to make it work!

  • Kasey August 11, 2009, 10:53 pm

    I’ve always found coffeecake to be a weird creature–too delicious to be a nutritious breakfast, but yet somehow acceptable. I love how you bundled it for a picnic–I’ll definitely have to try that!

  • g August 12, 2009, 8:04 am

    FYI, I made this last night in a 9x13x? baking pan (maybe 3 inches deep), and it cooked perfectly in 40 minutes. Delicious too!

  • lululu August 17, 2009, 4:14 pm

    i’ve made something similar recently. but without the apple. i’m sure it’d taste better if i did.
    next time!

  • Lenetta @ Nettacow December 7, 2009, 2:28 pm

    YUM! I linked to this on my weekly roundup (post is under my name). I especially appreciate your notations of what didn’t work so well – I’m prone to kitchen incidents myself. :>) Thanks so much!

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