During these cold winter months, I love to make coffeecakes to serve for breakfasts, brunches or a fast, warm, comforting dessert. The batters take only a few minutes to make. Before you know it they are ready to be baked. They freeze well ,after they are baked, as long as they are wrapped airtight. They can then be re-heated quickly to get that “just baked” taste and texture.

Coffeecakes are a type of quick bread. Quick breads can include any of the following: muffins, biscuits, scones, popovers, pancakes, and loaf breads like banana, corn and zucchini, to name just a few. They typically use chemical leavening agents like baking powder and baking soda to help them to rise. These easy to make “quick” quick breads can be contrasted with yeast breads, which need to rise before baking, and can take quite a long time to prepare.

My favorite type of coffeecake has a streusel topping on it. This is a simple flour, sugar, cinnamon (or other spices), and butter concoction that you blend together with your fingers until the mixture forms small clumps. Other ingredients may, also, be added. These include but are not limited to: oatmeal, chopped nuts, chopped chocolate, coffee (for a TRUE to the name “coffeecake” taste), shredded coconut, dried fruit, granola and various spices.

The streusel topping is scattered on top of the batter in the pan before it goes into the oven.  For a truly decadent variation of this, half the streusel is sprinkled over half the batter in the pan, and after the remaining batter is spread over the streusel, even MORE streusel topping is sprinkled on top of the remaining batter. After the whole cake is baked and you cut into it, you will find a “ripple” of streusel baked inside.

The cakey, bottom of the coffeecake or what’s beneath the streusel topping, is comprised of a simple batter that may or may not include fruits. The fruit can be fresh, frozen or dried. The fruits that I love to use include: thinly, sliced apples, pears, peaches or plums. Any fruit goes!

The great thing about coffeecakes is that they can be baked in any shape pan you like. If you only have a 9 inch square pan, that’ll work fine. Only have a round cake pan, that’s OK too.

Restaurants also love to serve quick breads. Why? Because they want to make money! Customers that return to the same restaurants come for the specialty items like coffeecake, or scones. Any restaurant can serve Italian or French bread to its’ customers. SO BORING!!!

I went to a restaurant while traveling a few years back. That restaurant did not serve bread before dinner. It served blueberry scones. And they were WARM, blueberry scones! I don’t remember anything else about this restaurant other than those AMAZING scones served before dinner. They were incredible.

If you want to impress family and friends and just make an all-around GREAT impression – serve them coffeecake or some other type of a quick bread. That they will remember!

A wonderful recipe for my Cinnamon Crumb Coffeecake is in my newest book “Baking with Success”. Try it.

Happy Baking!

Chef Gail