Coffee cake is one of those retro specialties, an old-school standby from the Mrs. Maisel era. You know, when having a nice, simple, home-baked “something” to serve with coffee was hostessing done right. It didn’t have to decorated to within an inch of its life and Instagram ready. Delicious sufficed.
Even my ma, who was a reluctant cook, was justly proud of her Bundt cake and made it for just about every occasion. It was moist, nutty and utterly perfect with a cup of joe. Her Sour Cream Coffee Cake was one of few recipes she left behind, and a lightened-up version even made it into the pages of Cooking Light magazine. The lighter version was nice, she noted, tactfully, though she was sad to see the original’s 1 cup of coarsely chopped walnuts (the best part!) trimmed down to a scant 1/4 cup finely chopped nuts.
This time of year, I’m moved to make Mom’s coffee cake — in her Harvest Gold aluminum Bundt pan, of course. And me being me, I can’t resist a few changes: I use a combo of all-purpose and whole-wheat pastry flours, and I’ve swapped the tablespoon of lemon extract in her version for lemon zest and juice. But I for damn sure don’t mess with the nuts.
Mom’s Sour Cream Coffee Cake
1½ cups all-purpose flour
1½ cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
¼ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
8 ounces (2 sticks) butter, plus extra for pan, softened
2 cups granulated sugar
6 eggs, at room temperature
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 cup sour cream
1 cup very coarsely chopped walnuts
Powdered sugar, for garnish
Preheat oven to 325°F. Butter and flour a Bundt pan.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flours, zest, baking soda and salt.
In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar with an electric mixer. Beat in eggs one at a time. Beat in juice and extract. Alternate beating in flour mixture and sour cream. Stir in nuts. Scrape batter into prepared pan. Bake 1 hour or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan 15 minutes. Invert cake onto a wire rack, and cool completely. Before serving, sift powdered sugar over the top.