Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Cakey Crunchy Coffee

I forgot to blog about this. And maybe no one cares. But I do - so I'm blogging about it right now! My family's famous Coffee Crunch Cake. This recipe has been in my family for I'm guessing more than 50 years. Something my Auntie Betty found perhaps before, but more likely after, the famous Blum's Bakery (Eastern Bakery and Yasukochi's Sweet Shop have their own versions also) started serving it up to drooling customers. There is a lemon version my family has their paws on as well, but I have never made it. Perhaps I'll need to try it sometime too. But we're talking about the coffee version here - so let's continue. In my humble opinion our coffee crunch cake is better than Eastern Bakery's. Eastern's is a little more like toffee (ie: a little harder and sticks in your teeth) and I can't say I've tried Yasukochi's nor was I around to try Blum's in the mid-20th Century. So as far as I'm concerned this cake is the BEST! Every time I serve it I get rave reviews.  But you definitely need to have a sweet tooth to really enjoy it...which I do!  Desserts are by far a favorite in my family. At every family party there is roughly 1 dessert per every 2-3 people. That's not really even an exaggeration!

Making my point: this is Thanksgiving 2007. Granted our get together is roughly 80
people but look how many desserts there are - and not all of them made it into the picture!

I keep getting off topic...

I really enjoy making this cake. I'm not sure why exactly because it really is a lot of work. But perhaps because of the work - it is SO satisfying to gaze upon the finished product. The photo at the top of my post was taken immediately following completion; but when you let the cake sit around for an hour or two (in the fridge, of course) the "crunch" starts to melt a little and just looks amazing! Here's all the work that goes into making a Lee Family Coffee Crunch Cake:

First I make the sponge cake. This itself takes forever because of the roughly 30 minutes you spend whipping egg yolks and whites (separately). But at least if you have a stand mixer, you can set it to GO and get to little things around the house - only needing to check in periodically. The most fun for me is when I take my sponge cake out of the oven because it's to be cooled upside down over a beer bottle! One time I took the cake out too early and the entire middle of the cake ended up on the counter about 3 minutes into "cooling". Eeeks!! While the cake cools I typically get started on the crunch part. This also takes forever - about an hour to come up to the temperature I need it to be. The crunch looks like this (on the left) as it cools. Crazy huh? After it cools completely I have to use a mallet to break it into small pieces... so this gigantic piece of coffee crunch can look a little intimidating!

Finally my favorite part: assembling! I cut the sponge cake into 3 layers, beat up a TON of whipping cream and start in on building my cake. It's certainly not beautiful before I get the whipped cream and crunch onto the outside. But this gives you a view into what's going on inside there! And voila! Coffee Crunch Cake - Lee Aunties style! My cousins enjoyed this cake a couple weeks ago, as did a houseful of friends the next night. That's right I did take a "leftover" cake to a friend's party. Let me tell you... NO ONE complained. :)

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