I have a confession…I actually made quite a few missteps with this recipe due to my spotty attention span. I was listening to music, watching a movie, and baking this baby here. The awesome thing about my missteps is that the cake came out better than it would if I had followed the original recipe exactly. I ended up using more sugar for the cake batter than the recipe called for, along with more vanilla, but the cake was just effing incredible. I was really worried that it would come out achingly-sweet, but it was truly perfect.
However, “sweetness” is subjective…so I’m going to post the original recipe but annotate my changes just in case you wanna try’em. To quote my dad, “It’s perfectly sweet! You don’t taste sugar, it’s just right”. So, I will continue to add the additional 5 tablespoons of sugar to the cake part (some mistakes turn out to be little gems in the end).
The almond topping creates a protective seal on top of the cake, and bakes up crispy and sweet. If you have nut allergies, you can leave the nuts out. Or, if you don’t like almonds you could use another type of nut. The next time I make this, I think I’ll reduce the baking time by just 5 minutes and I may even try a brown sugar mixture instead of just white sugar. I’ll also go a little easier on the “figure-8” swirling of the cream cheese filling, I think I overdid it just a tad lol. Don’t get me wrong…I absolutely love this cake, but it’s also a great starting point to really alter a few ingredients and make it your own. The recipe didn’t call for cinnamon but I added it because I like the warmth of cinnamon in my coffee cakes. It was just enough to give me that hint of coziness, but you’re more than welcome to leave it out. This cake is very moist too, and
The reason you wanna add ¼ cup of the batter to the cream cheese mixture is because without it, the cheese filling will curdle and sink all the way to the bottom of the cake. We don’t want that. The added batter protects the proteins in the cheese and also makes it more homogenous with the rest of the cake batter, which also prevents it from sinking all the way to the bottom.
Bottom line, this is a great cake…very easy to make, and very easy to alter. I can’t wait to try it with coffee tomorrow morning. It would also taste really good with a few berries..mmmmm…
Flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon and salt
Lemon zest (from 2 lemons)
This is the vanilla extract I’m using at the moment
Sugar, lemon zest, and butter ready to be creamed
Batter in the tube pan
with some reserved 😉
Cream cheese mixture on top, avoid getting this to the edges of the pan if you can.
After you top the cream cheese filling with the remaining cup of batter, smooth out and create “figure-8” motions with a butterknife to swirl the cream cheese mixture thru. Then press your almond mixture into the top of the cake and bake her for a good 40 minutes
All done! But it’s gotta rest in the pan for an hour before we finish letting it cool completely…
Flipping over the cake, gently — here’s the beautiful bottom
Still too warm to eat. For the best texture, you wanna let this cake cool for a few hours before cutting into it.
First slice! Incredibly moist, great tang of the cream cheese, and that crunchy almond top…mmmm…
She’s gorgeous…and delicious ^_^
Adapted from Cook’s Illustrated.
For the Lemon-Almond Sugar Topping
- ¼ cup sugar
- 1½ teaspoons finely grated zest from 1 lemon
- ½ cup sliced almonds
For the Coffee Cake
- 2¼ cups (11 1/4 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1⅛ teaspoons baking powder
- 1⅛ teaspoons baking soda
- ¼ teaspoon cinnamon (optional)
- 1 teaspoon table salt
- 10 tablespoons (1 stick plus 2 tablespoons) unsalted butter , softened but still cool
- 1 cup plus 7 tablespoons sugar (I used this entire amount just for the cake, plus 4 tablespoons more for the cream cheese filling)
- 1 tablespoon finely grated zest plus 4 teaspoons juice from 1 to 2 lemons
- 4 large eggs
- 5 teaspoons vanilla extract (I used this entire amount for just the cake, plus 1tsp for the cream cheese filling)
- 1¼ cups sour cream
- 8 ounces cream cheese , softened
For the Lemon-Almond Sugar Topping
- Stir together sugar and lemon zest in small bowl until combined and sugar is moistened. Stir in almonds; set aside.
- Spray 10-inch tube pan with nonstick cooking spray. Whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon (if using) and salt together in medium bowl; set aside. In stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, beat butter, 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar, and lemon zest at medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes, scraping down sides and bottom of bowl with rubber spatula. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition, about 20 seconds, and scraping down beater and sides of bowl as necessary. Add 4 teaspoons vanilla and mix to combine. Reduce speed to low and add one-third flour mixture, followed by half of sour cream, mixing until incorporated after each addition, 5 to 10 seconds. Repeat, using half of remaining flour mixture and all of remaining sour cream. Scrape bowl and add remaining flour mixture; mix at low speed until batter is thoroughly combined, about 10 seconds. Remove bowl from mixer and fold batter once or twice with rubber spatula to incorporate any remaining flour.
- Reserve 1¼ cups batter and set aside. Spoon remaining batter into prepared pan and smooth top. Return now-empty bowl to mixer and beat cream cheese, remaining 5 tablespoons sugar, lemon juice, and remaining teaspoon vanilla on medium speed until smooth and slightly lightened, about 1 minute. Add ¼ cup reserved batter and mix until incorporated. Spoon cheese filling mixture evenly over batter, keeping filling about 1 inch from edges of pan; smooth top. Spread remaining cup reserved batter over filling and smooth top. With butter knife or offset spatula, gently swirl filling into batter using figure-8 motion, being careful to not drag filling to bottom or edges of pan. Firmly tap pan on counter 2 or 3 times to dislodge any bubbles. Sprinkle lemon sugar-almond topping evenly over batter and gently press into batter to adhere.
- Bake until top is golden and just firm, and long skewer inserted into cake comes out clean (skewer will be wet if inserted into cheese filling), 45 to 50 minutes. Remove pan from oven and firmly tap on counter 2 or 3 times (top of cake may sink slightly). Cool cake in pan on wire rack 1 hour. Gently invert cake onto rimmed baking sheet (cake will be topping-side down); remove tube pan, place wire rack on top of cake, and invert cake sugar-side up. Cool to room temperature, about 1½ hours. Cut into slices and serve.
Leftovers should be stored in the refrigerator, covered tightly with plastic wrap. For optimal texture, allow the cake to return to room temperature before serving.
Once again, the stuff in parenthesis are my “missteps”. I still got a very delicious “not too sweet” cake, so play around with it until you find a variation you’re happy with. I’m going to continue to make it this way 🙂
- Serving Size: 12 to 16
Chef Resha is an accomplished self-taught private chef, home cook, public figure, and recipe developer based in the DC Metro area. Creator and owner of CarnalDish — an incredibly delicious and renowned website full of sinful comfort food recipes made with love. CarnalDish has been featured on Good Morning Washington, Ebony magazine, Essence, Huffington Post, BuzzFeed, Newport, The Dr. Oz Show, and many more notable publications.