Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Vegan Espresso Coffee Cake with Chocolate Chunk Crumble (My Own "Tara" and Why Gone with the Wind. . . Finally!)

Lordy, how long's it been since I last baked a cake for crying out loud?! My cake cravings kicked into high gear late yesterday afternoon. (So getting dinner finished sort of took a back seat. Sorry, honey.) Chocolate AND espresso are mandatory items to have on hand if you are to truly enjoy the finer points of what makes this coffee cake--well, a coffee cake.  

As you can see, I was prepared. 
So much of what makes a coffee cake truly divine is not the cake part itself, but what sits on top of the cake: the crumble.
So make sure you have good chocolate to pair with your espresso. I had just visited our local Italian shopping district and picked up a new can of espresso. (And I love it!)
Having a cup of coffee AND this cake prepared me for what lay ahead:
Morning in THE GARDEN.

The recipe is one I adapted from one of my favorite baking cookbooks: The Back in the Day Bakery Cookbook by Griffith and Cheryl Day. There is not a bad recipe in this book, I swear. You can jump to the recipe below here.
From the garden today: kale, chard, parsley, basil and radishes. Yum!
The morning walk. Through the garden, the woods--up and down the holler and back woods. Pure Southern joy 'round here. Including heat and humidity. . . already.
Checking on the slackers.
Along my path, I've been curious about this gigantic overgrowth for several years now. It grows out of the rock every spring--the most gigantic leaves you've ever seen. I was afraid of it for awhile--thinking it might be host to every snake under the sun. So I'd whack away at it until little stumps were all that remained. Then I figured out what it was. (It helped I had just been to a farmer's market and seen something very similar. . . for sale!) It's rhubarb: wild-growing-don't-know-how-it-got-there rhubarb! Well, now that I've solved that mystery plant problem. I'm not sure it's going to ever enter this kitchen. The mere mention of rhubarb sends Dr. Thyme into a fit of rage.
This may be my first year for grape harvesting. I'm truly not surprised as I carefully viewed over a dozen How-To videos on proper technique for pruning your grapes. Well, at least one of my grape plants is producing grapes this year. The other one, not so much. 
Yesterday I finally caged my tomato plants. I don't like caging them until they've grown up a bit. They always tend to grow "outside" of where I put the cage, then I'm left with trying to rip the cage up and re-positioning it creating a headache for me and my poor plants.  
Corn planted with green beans. Remarkable little garden space--the bean vines are actually growing UP and around the corn. I am so excited!
. . . And this! Pumpkin flower.
. . . And these--peas. Finally. They went in late, but have finally taken off. I may get nothing from them given the temps are going to soar into the nineties this weekend. We shall see.  

I decided I needed to read Gone with the Wind. I know, right? And no, I've never seen the movie. But yes I totally remember Carol Burnett's Scarlett O'hara moment with the curtain rod dress. A "best TV moment" from my childhood if ever there was one. I still laugh till I cry every time I watch it.

Having been a Yankee transplant to the south, Gone with the Wind never made it to my Must Read list. Truthfully I was so emotionally scarred by my uprooting, by the southern accents, the heat, chewing tobacco, crawdads and ticks that I felt no compulsion to investigate any further about the finer points of the Southern way of life, the Civil War not excluded. 

GWTW is by all accounts, THE book about the South. (And the Civil War.) So much so, there are some who declare it an historical text on the way it was--how the South was. But then after visiting my hometown earlier this year and hearing my sister go on and on about how much she misses the South--the green rolling hills, earlier springs, clean highways, the rivers and creeks, country music (well they have it up North, too--but you miss the allure somehow listening to it on Lake Shore Drive)--I felt like I was missing something. So this book is my summer read. It's likely to take me all summer to finish, too.  All one thousand pages of it!

Meantime, I just can't seem to get that Carol Burnett playing Scarlett O'Hara skit out of my head. 
(Just Google it.)

Vegan Espresso Coffee Cake with Chocolate Chunk Crumble
makes 9" cake

1 cup oat flour
1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup white whole wheat flour
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup coconut sugar (*if you don't have this on hand, just use all brown sugar)
1/3 cup granulated sugar (I used Florida Crystals)
8 tablespoons vegan margarine (I used one stick of Earth Balance)
3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup coconut milk mixed with juice of half lemon (for "buttermilk")
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil 
1/8 cup water
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 cup bittersweet chocolate chips, chopped
1/3 cup chopped walnuts (or pecans or hazelnuts or almonds--whatever you have on hand) 
2 teaspoons espresso powder

Preheat oven to 350. Lightly spray a 9" baking pan with non-stick coating. In a stand mixer, add the flour, sugars, butter (cut up into pieces) and salt and mix until the mixture looks like a coarse meal. Small chunks of butter will still be floating around in there, don't worry about this--it melts when the cake bakes. Now, take about 3/4 cup of this mixture and place in a medium bowl. Add to the bowl your chopped chocolate pieces and nuts of choice. Whisk it all together really well. For the remaining flour mixture, add the baking soda, coconut milk (buttermilk), olive oil, water and extracts and blend until the mixture is incorporated well--until all the dry parts are wet. This won't take you very long, about 15-20 seconds. Now, spread the batter in the cake pan. Sprinkle the chocolate, nut and flour mixture evenly over the top of it and bake for about 40 minutes. (Test the middle with a toothpick just to be sure, but my cake was ready in about 40 min.) Remove from oven. Allow cake to cool in pan on a wire rack in pan before slicing. I stored mine over night, covered in foil in the fridge. It's delicious served cold. I sliced the rest of the cake up this morning for storing in an airtight container. It should keep for about four days or so. Yum!








7 comments:

  1. I pinned this (http://pinterest.com/pin/3870349652688102/). This seems like a recipe I have to try... and you know that says a lot with how little I cook! Thanks for sharing it.

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  2. Lol! You won't be sorry you made this, I can promise you that-and thanks for the note!

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  3. Great looking cake! And your garden is doing so nicely. Terrific idea to plant corn and beans together - that's an old-timey way of doing it, perfect for a kitchen garden. I also like your idea of not caging the tomatoes until they've grown a bit - I'm always trying to force mine into the cage. It'd be tons easier if I just let them tell me where to put the cages! Good stuff - thanks.

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  4. Thank you Mr. KR! I love anything in the old-timey category--including my garden!

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  5. Ha! Whenever I think of Gone with the Wind, I think of that Carol Burnett skit . . . every single time! I haven't actually seen the movie either. I think reading the book instead is a great idea! This cake looks dangerous (my kind of cake)! Thanks for the recipe!

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  6. I am such a fan of hers--it's good memories always with that show. The book is a bit of a slog, though I am at the very early, early part--no curtain rod moments! Thank you! P.S. The cake is even better cold and after being in the fridge for a couple of days, just fyi!

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  7. Ooooh, I miss the grapevines at our old house! And this coffee cake - what an inspiration to turn the oven on! It looks absolutely to die for. I've never read GWTW either. I'm looking forward to hearing your verdict on the book!

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