Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Insanely Easy Cherry Streusel Coffee Cake for Mother's Day from Cleo Coyle

With three generations of women featured in our Coffeehouse Mysteries, we often hear from mothers who pass our books to their daughters, as well as their own mothers, mothers-in-law, and grandmothers. To celebrate the many generations of women who read our books, my husband and I are delighted to wish our readers a Happy Mother's Day! 

 Cleo Coyle has a partner in
crime-writing—her husband.
Learn about their books
by clicking here and here.

In honor of the day, I am also sharing this insanely easy Cherry Streusel Coffee Cake, slightly adapted from a recipe that came to me from a Coffeehouse Mystery reader, as well as a mother and grandmother, named Shirley Jackson. May you bake with love and eat with joy! ~ Cleo

Insanely Easy 

Cherry Streusel Coffee Cake

As I mentioned, this recipe came to me from a beautiful Coffeehouse Mystery reader. I've adapted it slightly, writing my own directions, tips, and notes. Thank you to Shirley Jackson. I know she would join me in wishing you boundless joy in baking, eating, and living! 

Shirley Hunt Jackson
"Red Hat Queen"

Note from Shirley: "I made this coffee cake for the first time in Houston for a group of Red Hat friends. This coffee cake tastes just like a yeast bread that has taken you a long time to make. Sure does make your kitchen smell cozy."

Note from Cleo: Shirley is absolutely right about the yeast and the coziness of this coffee cake. Over the years, I've seen many cake recipes with a cake mix as starter. I've seen many "pie-filling-over-cake-mix" recipes, too. But I've never seen yeast used as an ingredient. The use of yeast in this recipe gives the streusel a sweet bread-like flavor and texture, but without kneading or rising time. It's also fantastic chilled, so it makes a great summer cake, too. 


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Cherry Streusel
Coffee Cake


For the dough base:
1 package yellow cake mix
1 cup all-purpose flour, unsifted
1 packet (1/4 ounce) dry yeast
2/3 cup very warm tap water
2 large eggs, whisked with fork

For the topping:

5 Tablespoons butter (salted is fine) 

1 can (1 pound 5 ounce) cherry pie filling
2 Tablespoons granulated sugar

Step 1 - Make dough base: First preheat your oven to 375° Fahrenheit and coat a 13 x 9 x 2-inch baking pan with cooking spray (or grease and flour it to prevent sticking). Then, into a large mixing bowl, measure out 1-1/2 cups of the dry cake mix. (You are setting aside the remaining mix, which you will use for the topping.) 

Add the flour and dry yeast to the bowl. Now add the 2/3rds cup of very warm tap water. Allow the yeast to come alive and bubble for a minute. Finally, add the 2 eggs. Beat everything for 2 minutes at medium speed, scraping bowl often. Dough will be thick. Using a rubber spatula or back of a spoon, spread it across the bottom of your coated baking pan.

Step 2 - Make streusel topping: Melt butter in a saucepan and pour it over the remaining cake mix. Mix the butter in well with the dry mix. It should be lumpy and crumbly. (See photo.)

Step 3 - Assemble coffee cake: Spoon the cherry pie filling evenly across the top of the dough in the baking pan. Sprinkle sugar on top of the filling. Finally, using your fingers, crumble the streusel topping over it all. NOTE: Because there was so much topping, I held back some of mine so the bright redness of the cherries would show through, making a prettier presentation.


Step 4 - Bake and glaze: Bake the coffee cake for 30 minutes in your preheated oven (375° F). Cool the coffee cake on a rack--to allow air to circulate under the hot pan bottom. When the top is cool, drizzle with glaze. See my Quick Glaze recipe below. After cake is served, refrigerate leftovers to keep fresh. This cake is also delicious chilled!


Cleo's note: Shirley's cherry streusel coffee cake glaze used corn syrup, water, and powdered sugar. With her indulgence, I am giving you my favorite butter glaze instead, which is what I use when I make this cake. Here is the simple recipe...


2 Tablespoons butter (salted is fine)
2 Tablespoons whole milk    (cream or half-and-half)
1 cup confectioner's    (powdered or icing) sugar, sifted

Directions: Over medium heat, warm butter and milk in a saucepan. Do not let this mixture brown, burn, or boil or you will have a scalded taste in your glaze. As soon as butter has melted, whisk in the sifted confectioner's sugar, a little at a time, until it is completely melted. You must work with the glaze quickly, while it is still warm. Using a rubber spatula or spoon, drizzle the warm glaze over the coffee cake. If the glaze hardens up on you, place the saucepan over the heat again and whisk until liquefied and smooth once more.


In honor of Shirley...and Madame and Clare, and all mothers everywhere, here is Jenny Joseph, reading her famous red hat poem "Warning"... 

(If you do not see the video below
watch it by clicking here.)

~ Cleo Coyle 

Who aspires to wear purple!

New York Times bestselling author of
The Coffeehouse Mysteries

Yes, this is me, Cleo (aka Alice). 
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