Whole Grain Coffee Cake with Wit Wolkoring

I love coffee cake, especially one with tangy sour cream in the batter and a crunchy streusel layer in the middle. I love it even more now that I have this recipe created by Sarah Owens just for us, featuring one of my favorite grains, Wit Wolkoring. When I baked the recipe for the first time, I had hazelnuts for the streusel and ripe figs on hand, which I finely chopped and sprinkled over the middle layer – delish!

Please do follow Sarah and her work. You can find her on Instagram @sarah_c_owens, and offering recipes and baking tutorials via Patreon at www.patreon.com/sarahowens. If you don’t already own at least one of her three books, you are missing out: “Sourdough”, “Toast & Jam” and “Heirloom” – too hard to pick a favorite. Nan

Photo, Story and Recipe credited to Sarah:
This version of a classic coffee cake checks off many boxes of the original vintage baked good: the crumb is moist but light and tender and it is sweet but pleasingly balanced with spice. The warmth of cinnamon and toasted nuts fills the home as it bakes and permeates the nose when lifting the first forkful to your mouth. This recipe is an adaptation of the great Rose Levy Beranbaum’s Sour Cream Coffee Cake (originally published in The Cake Bible) but is elevated by deeply flavorful Wit Wolkoring white whole wheat flour. This warm and mellow heirloom grain is perfectly suited to replace the highly-refined cake flour typically used to make this recipe. Rather than just a vehicle for butter, sugar, and spice, Wit Wolkering has a rich flavor of its own, similar to its relative Sonora wheat. This landrace variety hails from South Africa and performs well in dry climates. Our current crop was grown by California farmer Mai Nguyen who is dedicated to a no till and no irrigation organic practice, making drought tolerant grains like this one key to her harvesting success. 

In the spirit of savoring minimally processed, high-quality ingredients, raw sugars are used here. You may use light brown sugar to replace the raw unrefined cane sugar and raw granulated cane sugar to replace the turbinado if you cannot source it. Walnuts add an aromatic bite to the streusel and filling, but toasted pecans or a blend of pecans, pistachios, and almonds are an excellent substitute as well. The use of instant coffee granules assists with the striking contrast between the filling and the cake crumb but is by no means necessary. If using, source reputable granules that make a cup of coffee you would want to drink such as Voila, a sustainably sourced and expertly roasted option. You may however, omit it and add a layer of fruit such as firm plums or tart apples over the cinnamon filling as a seasonal twist. 

Yield = 1 9-inch cake

Streusel Topping and Filling
95 g raw unrefined cane sugar 
125 g toasted nuts (walnuts, pecans, pistachios, or a combination work well)
1 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
4 g instant coffee granules
60 g G&T whole grain Wit Wolkoring flour
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
70 g cubed unsalted butter, cold 
½ teaspoon vanilla extract

200 g G&T whole grain Wit Wolkoring flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
135 ml egg whites (from about 4 large eggs), room temperature
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
170 g cubed unsalted butter, room temperature
200 g raw turbinado cane sugar
60 ml egg yolks (from about 4 large eggs), room temperature
175 g sour cream, room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
280 g chopped fresh fruit, optional

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. 

2. Prepare a springform pan.
Line the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan with parchment fit to the diameter of the pan. Grease the top of the parchment and the sides of the pan with softened butter or non-sticky spray. Dust lightly with flour and set aside. 

3. Make the streusel topping and filling. 
Place the sugar, nuts, and cinnamon into the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade and pulse to coarsely chop. Transfer 85 g of the mixture to a separate bowl, stir in the instant coffee granules, and set aside. To the food processor, add the flour and salt and pulse to just combine. Add the butter and sprinkle in the vanilla extract and pulse until consistent, pea-sized lumps are formed. Transfer this streusel to the refrigerator while you work. 

4. Combine the dry ingredients for the batter.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda and powder, and salt and set aside. 

5. Beat the egg whites.
Place the egg whites into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Sprinkle in the cream of tartar and beat the whites on medium-high speed until soft peaks form. Gently transfer to a medium bowl.

6. Make the batter.
Replace the whisk attachment with a paddle and transfer the butter and sugar to the mixing bowl. Beat on medium speed until the butter and sugar are consistently creamed, scraping down the sides if necessary; the mixture will be somewhat grainy from the coarse sugar. Add the egg yolks and beat until combined, about 1 minute. Add the sour cream and beat on medium-high speed until the mixture is light in color and somewhat fluffy, about 5 minutes, scraping down the sides when necessary. With the paddle running on low speed, gradually add the flour to the butter mixture, just until combined – some remaining dry patches are ok. Add 1/3 of the beaten eggs whites and mix on low just to combine. Remove the bowl from the stand mixer and gently fold in the remaining egg whites with a spatula, being careful not to overmix. The batter will be thick, almost like buttercream.  

7. Fill the prepared pan. 
Transfer about 2/3 of the batter to the prepared pan and spread in an even layer using a small offset spatula. Sprinkle the filling evenly over top and distribute the fruit, if using. Dollop the remaining batter over the filling and spread evenly, careful not to disturb the filling. Sprinkle the chilled streusel over the batter and gently apply even pressure to the surface of the streusel to compact it before placing the pan in the oven. 

8. Bake, cool, and serve. 
Bake the cake for 50-55 minutes, carefully rotating the pan halfway through. The cake will be done when it feels firm in the middle and a toothpick inserted into the center reveals a moist but clean crumb. Remove the cake from the oven and allow to cool in the pan for 15 minutes before removing the outer ring. Allow to cool for an additional 20-30 minutes before using a large, flat offset spatula to transfer the cake onto a cooling rack. Cool for at least 2 hours before serving. Although it is complex and satisfying on its own, it is also delicious served at room temperature with crème fraîche, ice cream, and fresh or stewed seasonal fruit. Store in a covered container at room temperature for up to 3 days.

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