Coffee cake reminds me of home. It reminds me of Christmas mornings, visits to the grandparents, and my mother letting me “help out” by stirring the dry ingredients together while she taught me how to measure flour and sugar.
So, naturally, while missing home tonight, I felt the urge to make a coffee cake. My roommate was coming back tonight after three weeks away, and I wanted to have something to welcome her home here. I faced one issue, though – I’m subletting this in D.C. this summer, and all of my prized garage-sale-acquired baking supplies are back in Cleveland – along with close proximity to an inexpensive grocery store. I had milk and margarine in fridge…but could I make a coffee cake without cinnamon, real butter, and eggs? I knew I could get by substituting oil for eggs (it’s worked before!), but I’ve always learned that real butter is unfortunately expensive – and unfortunately essential to baking adventures. Here in D.C., a pound of unsalted butter can run you $4.50 – whereas, in Cleveland, I can get it for $2.50 on sale if I’m lucky (it’ll keep for a while in the fridge unopened). So, I had a predicament – I’m not going to buy a pound of butter when I’m here in D.C. for three more weeks.
I’ve been intrigued by the idea of baking with tea for a while now; I had an AMAZING lavender-earl grey tea flavored cupcake at the famous Georgetown Cupcake during my first week in D.C. this summer, and I was astounded by the complexity of the flavor. So, inspired by this recipe for applesauce coffee cake, I decided to improvise. A unexpectedly delicious “missing home, but welcome home” coffee cake was born:
HUNT AND GATHER:
- 1-1/2 cup flour
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 tsp baking soda (I only had baking power, so I used 1-1/4 tsp baking powder to substitute for the soda)
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1 teabag, cut open (I think dark teas would work best for this – I used dark English breakfast tea)
- 1/2 cup milk
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 2/3 cup applesauce (I used one of the pre-packaged applesauce cups that I usually eat with my lunch)
I ended up topping my cake with just oats and sugar sprinkled over the cake before baking (because of my lack of butter), but this would be ideal for a real crumb topping)
- 1/2 cup rolled oats
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 tablespoon sugar
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Grease a small baking dish (a small cake pan, or a 8×8 or 9×9 square pan). Mix the dry ingredients together in one bowl, including the flour, sugar, baking powder, and tea. In another bowl, mix the applesauce, oil, milk, and syrup until blended. Pour the wet ingredients over the dry ingredients all at one time, and stir just until blended. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Sprinkle desired topping over the batter. Bake on the middle rack of the oven for 35-40 minutes or until the top of the cake cracks and a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.
Enjoy with coffee in the morning, tea at night, or any time of day. -M