Tuesday, February 9, 2021

Easy Cherry Streusel Pastry Cake for #ValentinesDay from author Cleo Coyle

From Cleo Coyle: Truth? I have never been a big fan of Valentine's Day. When I was a singleton, I felt left out. As part of a couple (though I do dearly love my husband), I find the whole holiday somewhat forced. Not that it's a bad idea to enrich hardworking chocolatiers, restaurateurs, and greeting card companies. The economy can use as much activity as earnest sweethearts can give it!

On the other hand, I can't help thinking of the many people who are not in the hearts and flowers mood this week. If you are among them, I'm here to help (if only a little) by suggesting...

(#1) We include our beloved pets in the
"Valentine Sweetheart" category and...

(#2) We indulge in little baking therapy. To wit...

This beautiful Cherry Streusel Pastry Cake that I'm re-sharing today is insanely easy to make yet impressive to serve. So bake up this blushing Valentine breakfast, brunch, or coffee-break treat, and consider celebrating Valentine's Day not as a couple's holiday, but as one that celebrates all who have love in their hearts, including love for children, grandchildren, siblings, best friends, and even those furry little souls (our pets) who bring so much joy and love into our lives.

☕ A Recipe Note from Cleo

Cleo Coyle has a partner in
crime-writing—her husband.
Learn about their books
by clicking 
here and here.
This recipe came to me years ago from an enthusiastic reader of our Coffeehouse Mysteries. I've adapted it slightly, writing my own directions, tips, and notes.

Thank you to Shirley Jackson for the original inspiration. I know she would join me in wishing you boundless joy in baking, eating, and living!

Note from Shirley: "I made this cake for the first time in Houston for a group of Red Hat friends. This 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 cherry streusel cake, which is why I call it a pastry 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 cake a sweet bread-like flavor and texture, but without kneading or rising time. It's great with coffee so it works as a breakfast treat, afternoon snack, and an after-dinner dessert. May you bake it with love and eat with joy! ~ Cleo 

To download this recipe in a
free PDF that you can print
save, or share, click here.

🍒 Cherry Streusel Pastry Cake

from Cleo Coyle via Coffeehouse Mystery 
reader Shirley Jackson!


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 dry cake mix, which you set aside in Step 1. Mix the butter in well with the dry mix. It should be lumpy and crumbly. (See photo below.)

Step 3 - Assemble pastry 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 cake for 30 minutes in your preheated oven (375° F). Cool the cake on a rack, allowing 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 Favorite Quick Glaze

Cleo's glaze note: Shirley's 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. Drizzle the warm glaze over the cake using a rubber spatula, the tines of a fork, or a spoon. If the glaze hardens up on you, place the saucepan over the heat again and whisk well until liquefied and smooth once more.

Happy Valentine's Day to all those with love in their hearts, including all of you pet moms and dads out there. So many of us dearly love our furry friends. (Two of our many New York strays are featured in my photos today.) Without a doubt, they're our Valentine's, too.

from Mr. Fellows, Cleocatra, and...

New York Times bestselling author
of The Coffeehouse Mysteries and
Haunted Bookshop Mysteries

This is us -- Alice and Marc.
Together we write as Cleo Coyle. 

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