To bake a cake to serve to one of my best friends, Kayla. I am home for the holidays and trying to catch up with my friends who are still in Madison. Due to a cold, I had to cancel my original date with Kayla, who had requested "coffee cake with the crumbly topping." To make up for it, I decided to make a more luxurious cake than your ordinary cinnamon coffee cake, and adapted the recipe for "Ruby Cake" from Sarabeth's Bakery: From My Hands to Yours. The original recipe without modifications can be found here. I've always been afraid of recipes that use jams or preserves because I never enjoyed them on toast. This was my first experience using jam in baking.
Hypothesis: The raspberry jam filling will be disappointing and I will wish I had used a recipe with fresh raspberries.
3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup unsalted butter, chilled and cut into cubes
2 1/4 cups superfine sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 large eggs, beaten
1 1/4 cup light sour cream
1/4 cup half-and-half
1/2 cup raspberry jam
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1. Preheat the oven to 350°. Grease a bundt pan or fluted tube pan.
2. Sift the flour, baking powder and salt into a bowl and set aside.
3. Cream the butter on medium speed until smooth. Slowly add in the sugar followed by the vanilla and continue to beat until it is light in color and texture. Slowly add the eggs and mix until fully incorporated.
4. Turn to low speed and alternatively add the flour and sour cream in three additions. With the last addition of sour cream, add the half-and-half. Continue mixing until combined.
5. Put half of the batter in a large plastic bag. Cut one of the corners and pipe the batter into a thick ring in the bottom of the pan, followed by a small and large ring along the inner and outer rings of the pan. This should make a furrow for the filling. If it doesn't seem deep enough, use a spoon to make it larger.
6. If the jam is smooth, spoon it evenly into the furrow. If the jam is thick, put the jam into a plastic bag and trim the corner off. Pipe the jam into the furrow created by the batter. Squeezing the jam out of the bag will help to soften it. Make sure that the jam is contained within the batter and that none of the jam touches the pan.
7. Sprinkle the chocolate chips on top of the jam.
8. Spoon the remaining batter over the top of the filling. Gently smooth the batter to form an even layer and completely seal the filling into the batter. Use a knife to gently swirl the filling through the cake (or don't).
9. Place into the preheated oven and bake for 60-75 minutes, or until the top is golden and a toothpick comes clean out of the center of the cake.
10. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes then flip onto a rack to cool completely.
11. Sprinkle with powdered sugar prior to slicing and serving.
The cake is moist and delicious. The buttery flavor shines through and the raspberry and chocolate help cut the richness of the cake.
Discussion and Future Directions
This cake was so delicious that after my original coffee date, I invited my next-door-neighbor over for cake and coffee! When Kayla requested a coffee cake with streusel topping and berries, I stumbled upon this recipe for Almond Berry Coffee Cake. However, since I had borrowed a copy of Sarabeth's Bakery cookbook from the library, I opted for her recipe. Next time, it would be fun to try Sarabeth's batter with blackberry jam and raspberries for filling and a streusel top instead of raspberry jam and chocolate filling.
Contrary to my hypothesis, I was pleasantly surprised by the raspberry filling. I did not find myself wishing that I'd used fresh raspberries instead of jam. Chocolate and raspberries are a match made in heaven. The smooth, creamy filling created by the jam and chocolate was quite lovely in a dense, rich cake such as this one. The raspberry flavor was almost refreshing. The jam I used was Koepsel's Seedless Red Raspberry Jam from Door County, Wisconsin. I recommend using seedless jam because biting into raspberry seeds would ruin the textural experience.
The original recipe called for full-fat sour cream, which I never buy. Since I didn't want to go to the grocery store, I substituted low-fat sour cream but reduced the amount slightly and added half-and-half to increase the fat content in the cake. The cake was rich and moist enough that simply adding 1 1/2 cups of low-fat sour cream would have been just fine for those counting calories (this is sort of a joke as I would never make this dessert for anyone who is dieting).
The butter flavor and the filling are what makes this cake delicious. The outside of the cake formed a thin, dark crust that was tasty, but as I'm not a "crust person," I was smitten with the cakey center. It would be fun to experiment with new fillings. However, I wouldn't experiment much with the batter because I know it's delicious and if I try to fix what isn't broken I might end up with something I don't like as well. This is a great recipe. While it is very rich, it is perfect for breakfast. I recommend calling up your best friend and inviting him or her over for coffee and this delicious "Ruby Cake." It is sure to please!