This recipe is one that has evolved over nearly a half century, and, despite my tinkering with the original, it still holds up well. I began baking the earliest version when we moved to the suburbs to start our family. My mother-in-law came to live with us at about the same time. She, my husband, and I all loved Sunday brunch especially when there were homemade sweets like this brown sugar-topped coffee cake.
When our children were very small and Sunday mornings became quite hectic, more often than not, we settled for donuts that my husband picked up when he went out to buy the newspapers. That was many years ago, but it is a ritual that I still miss.
I used to bake the coffee cake in a large tube pan, but now I use two medium loaf pans and store one of the loaves in the freezer for a day when I need something sweet to bring to a function or just feel like tasting a memory of times past. Other changes in the recipe include reducing the amount of each ingredient by one-third and using plain yogurt rather than sour cream to eliminate a few calories.
As I write today, I am looking out at a nearly cloudless spring sky. The forsythias are bright yellow, the azaleas are beginning to bloom, the lawn is a lush lime green, and I am feeling a little blue as I remember springs gone by. Perhaps the coffee cake that I baked when I got home from a walk around the neighborhood will cheer me up. It always does.
Coffee Cake Loaves with Brown Sugar Topping
For the loaves: 1/2 cup of softened unsalted butter, 1 cup of white sugar, 2 eggs, 1 tsp of vanilla, 2 cups of flour, 1 tsp of baking powder, 1 tsp of baking soda, 1/8 tsp of salt, 1 cup of plain unflavored yogurt.
Cream butter and sugar. Add eggs one at a time, followed by vanilla. Mix well. Sift flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together. Stir into butter mixture alternately with the yogurt, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients.
For the topping and filling: Combine 1/3 cup of brown sugar, 1/3 cup of chopped walnuts or pecans, and 1 tsp of cinnamon.
Coat 2 medium loaf pans with non-stick cooking spray and dust lightly with flour. Spread approximately 1/4 of batter on the bottom of each pan. Sprinkle batter with 1/4 of the brown sugar mixture. Repeat procedure so that each loaf pan has two layers of batter, each topped with some of the brown sugar mixture.
Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the middle of the loaves comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack for a few minutes before removing the loaves from the pans. Allow to cool completely before serving or wrapping in foil to store or freeze.