Today, my newest cookbook, Baking for the Holidays, is available for purchase! This book is a collection of 50+ holiday-inspired sweets and treats, including recipes for morning pastries and buns (my cinnamon rolls are there with lots of variations, plus many more yeasted treats), holiday desserts, recipes that make great gifts, and a whole chapter on “Beyond Christmas,” for those long, cold months of the New Year (always winter, never Christmas).
And even though it is only a few days into September, I can’t wait for you to bake from this one and start making traditions of your own.
My hope for all who use this book is that the recipes and notes contained among the pages bring comfort and cheer to your own festivities and families, however they are shaped and chosen.
Writing a Cookbook During a Pandemic
This book was written, photographed, and edited in my home from May 2019 – March 2021. I started the book with my usual book-writing schedule in mind, but of course, March 2020 had other plans, and I found my husband and children home with me for the next year and half, working and schooling alongside me as I tried to write and test recipes.
The routine I had come to rely on was thrown out the window, as I found myself not only having to help my kids navigate school-at-home and pandemic anxiety, but also a world temporarily without flour and yeast, two very important ingredients for many of my recipes.
Everything was helter-skelter for quite some time, but thanks to the lovely and amazing editing and design team at Chronicle books: Sarah Billingsly, Cristina Garces, Deanne Katz, Lizzie Vaughan, and Margo Winton Parodi, and my incredible agent Jane Dystel, we were able to make everything work, and I handed in my manuscript and photographs on time. (Also a huge shout out to Cynthia Shannon and Joyce Lin, who were also so helpful during these months.)
Making Streusel Coffee Cake
A favorite recipe of mine from this new book is the Streusel Coffee Cake, found in the Morning Baking chapter. I have always loved coffee cake, with its tender cake base, topping of streusel, and thick coat of icing.
It’s hard to find a perfect piece of it, though – all the streusel and icing can cause its flavor profile to be just too sweet. After much testing, I found using my white cake base gives it a tender crumb, and a swirl of cream cheese lends some needed tang. I have the recipe for you below, with a raspberry variation that I also love. Swirling with lemon curd is also a delicious option.
Keep in mind: All ovens are unique. When I sent this recipe out to testers, I got back a wide variety of times back on when the cake was finished, due to different oven brands and different oven sizes. If at 28 minutes your cake is still very liquid-y, please do not panic! Just keep baking the cake, checking frequently to see when it is done. This cake can take up to 50 minutes to bake.
More Coffee Cake Recipes:
Streusel Coffee Cake with Cream Cheese Swirl
- 1 1/3 cups [189 g] all-purpose flour
- 1 cup [100 g] almond flour
- 2/3 cup [135 g] granulated sugar
- 2/3 cup [135 g] light brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 12 tablespoons [1 ½ sticks or 170 g] unsalted butter at room temperature, cut into 12 pieces
- 1 cup [240 g] whole milk at room temperature
- 1 scant cup [210 g] large egg whites from 6 or 7 eggs, at room temperature
- ½ cup [120 g] crème fraiche or sour cream at room temperature
- 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
- 2 ¾ cups [391 g] all-purpose flour
- 2 cups [400 g] granulated sugar
- 4 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup [2 sticks or 227 g] unsalted butter at room temperature, cut into 1 in [2.5 cm] pieces
Cream cheese filling
- 4 oz [113 g] cream cheese at room temperature
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1 ½ cups [180 g] confectioners’ sugar
- 2 to 4 tablespoons [30 to 60 g] water
- 1 tablespoons unsalted butter melted
- ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
For the streusel
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle, combine the all-purpose and almond flours, granulated and brown sugars, cinnamon, and salt on low speed. Add the butter one piece at a time, until the mixture comes together but still quite crumbly. Set aside 1 ½ cups [188 g] of the streusel to use on the cake, then store the remaining streusel in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week, or freeze in a freezer-safe bag for up to 1 month.
For the coffee cake
- Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and preheat the oven to 350F [180C]. Grease a 9 by 13 in [23 by 33 cm] pan and line it with a parchment sling.
- In a medium bowl or liquid measuring cup, whisk together the milk, egg whites, crème fraiche, and vanilla. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle, combine the flour, granulated sugar, baking powder, and salt. With the mixer running on low speed, add the butter one piece at a time, beating until the mixture resembles coarse sand. With the mixer still running on low speed, slowly add a little more than half of the wet ingredients. Increase the speed to medium and beat until the ingredients are incorporated, about 30 seconds. Lower the speed to low and add the rest of the wet ingredients, mixing until just combined. Increase the speed to medium and beat for 20 seconds (the batter may still look a little bumpy). Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl and use a spatula to mix the batter a few more times. Pour all but 1 tablespoon of the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top.
For the cream cheese filling
- In a small bowl, whisk together the cream cheese, granulated sugar, and the reserved 1 tablespoon of cake batter. Dollop the cream cheese filling over the cake and use a knife or an offset spatula to swirl it into the batter. Sprinkle the set aside streusel [1 ½ cups | 188 g] evenly over the top. Tap the pan gently on the counter twice to help get rid of any air bubbles. Bake for 28 to 50 minutes* (SEE NOTE), rotating the pan halfway through, until the cake is golden brown and a wooden skewer or toothpick inserted into the center comes out with a faint bit of crumbs. Transfer the cake in the pan to a wire rack and let cool for 5 minutes.
For the icing
- While the cake is baking, in a medium bowl, whisk together the confectioners’ sugar, 2 tablespoons of the water, the melted butter, and vanilla until smooth. Add more water, 1 tablespoon at a time, to thin the icing to your preferred consistency. Pour half of the icing over the warm cake and let sit for 20 minutes, then pour the remaining icing over the cake and let sit while the cake finishes cooling. Remove the cake from the pan using the parchment sling. Cut into pieces and serve. Alternatively, the cake can be left in the pan and covered in plastic wrap, then stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.