This coffee cake has been many weeks in the works, tested first before Christmas using Navel oranges, then after the New Year as I worked on my restraint as it related to the crumb topping.
It seems that a philosophy of more is better doesn’t really work for coffee cake crumb, and the cakes I had made with a thick layer of crunch weren’t quite getting the job done (unless your New Year’s resolutions had very quickly resulted in robust upper arm strength with which to chisel into said cake), so test, test away I did.
Don’t get me wrong, though. We still ate each too-much-crumb cake. Every last crumb. Fortunately for me, JR has robust upper arm strength. I think it has something to do with hoisting bales of hay over his shoulders and carrying 50 pound bags of grain around the yard. That’s just a guess.
The broken oven incident – in which our dinner took a little longer to roast than usual one Friday night, followed by a complete refusal to ignite on Saturday, just as I was about to make those orange-maple chicken drumsticks – turned out to be a little more serious than originally thought. Our new oven was installed at the end of this past week, a delayed last test of this cake finally able to happen over the weekend, this time with a less greedy quantity of crumb topping.
With Blood oranges – my favorite of all citrus fruits, I’ll take ‘em sliced, juiced, peeled and in segments, however I can get my hands on them – back in season, it only made sense to use one in this recipe in place of the Navel orange. Feel free to use either, both work just fine.
The spreading out of batter can be a little tricky; plan to be patient and your (small, really) effort will be rewarded with a brunch (with guests)-worthy coffee cake.
- 1 ¾ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- 6 tablespoons granulated sugar
- ½ cup (packed) light brown sugar
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- 12 tablespoons (1 ½ sticks) unsalted butter, melted
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ cup chopped walnuts
- 1 ½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- ½ cup (packed) light brown sugar
- 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
- ¾ cups fresh ricotta
- the zest and juice (approximately ¼ cup juice) of one large Blood orange
- 2 large eggs
- Prepare the crumb topping: mix together the flour, sugars, salt, melted butter, vanilla extract, and walnuts in a medium mixing bowl until the mixture resembles a coarse crumb.
- Preheat the oven to 350°F, and begin cake preparation.
- Lightly grease a 9-inch springform pan with unsalted butter and set it aside.
- Mix together the flour, baking powder, and salt so that the baking powder and salt are evenly distributed.
- In a large mixing bowl, cream the sugars and butter until the mixture is light and fluffy.
- Pour in the orange juice and zest, add the ricotta, and mix until they are well-combined.
- Add both eggs, one at a time, and mix until the eggs are just incorporated into the batter.
- Add the flour mixture, and mix until the dry ingredients are completely incorporated into the wet.
- Spread ½ of the batter over the bottom of the pan, then top with ½ of the crumb mixture.
- Spread the remaining half of the batter over the layer of crumb topping, working carefully to spread the batter to the edges of the pan, then sprinkle the remaining crumb topping over the batter.
- Bake until the crumb topping is golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, approximately 1 hour 10 minutes to 1 hour 15 minutes. Oven temperatures can vary, so you may want to start the toothpick testing once 1 hour of baking time has passed.
- Remove the cake from the oven and allow it to cool completely in the pan. Once cooled, run a sharp knife around the edge of the pan to separate the cake from the pan. Remove the springform, and serve this bad boy forth.
If desired – if you’d like to easily remove the cake from the pan bottom, which can be handy - trace the bottom of the pan onto parchment paper, cut the circle and place it on top of the lightly greased interior of the pan, then lightly grease the parchment and press down to adhere it to the bottom of the pan. Once the cake has cooled completely, use an offset spatula to loosen the parchment paper from the pan, carefully remove the parchment paper, and place on your desired serving dish.