Thursday, October 1, 2015

"The Coffee & Tea Lover's Cookbook" - Espresso Swirl Coffee Cake for National Coffee Day!

Date I made this recipe:  September 29, 2015 – National Coffee Day!

The Coffee & Tea Lover's Cookbook by Barnie's Coffee & Team Company
Published by:  Oxmoor Press
ISBN:  0-8487-1490-3
Recipe:  Espresso Swirl Coffee Cake – p. 25

"I love coffee, I love tea...I love the Java Jive and it loves me..."
Java Jive © 1940 – Ben Copland, composer; Milton Drake, lyricist

Oh, the excitement, or should I say, oh, the jitters! Today is National Coffee Day (who knew?) and I've had this song, covered by both The Ink Spots and Manhattan Transfer, going through my head all day. 

I love coffee.  But I loved caffeine sooooo much that it was giving me an ulcer and so I've been caffeine free for a few decades now.  Which means that what I drink in the morning is decaf coffee, a beverage I describe as "hot, brown liquid."  People always laugh when I say that but the very thought of drinking decaf makes most hard-core coffee drinkers shudder.  I know I did before I underwent my own version of "coffee" rehab.

I should have seen this coming as my mother was truly addicted to the stuff, often, I kid you not, falling asleep late at night with a cup of coffee on a saucer balanced perfectly in one hand, a talent of her to be sure.  She could drink pots of the stuff before going to be and conk out in a nanosecond.  Not so I.

In fact, while in college, my roommates and I guzzled pitcher after pitcher of ice tea (the awful Lipton stuff that came in a jar, flavored with lemon.  Shudder) while studying, and for eons, it did not occur to me that this was likely the reason for my insomnia.  My Aunt Rose finally filled me in (I may have been in college but like many young adults was clueless) and so I stopped drinking tea, switching instead to full-strength caffeinated sodas, which is to say I simply traded one addiction for another.

Things only got worse as time went on.  While at one stressful job, my coworker, Susan, and I would bitch about it while standing in the lunch room emptying out pot after pot of coffee.  In fact, whenever one of us said "Coffee?????" with a title of a head toward the lunchroom, it was our code word for "get thee to the lunchroom, stat because a) I need to talk or b) I have some dirt.  Of course we clammed up the minute anybody else walked in but then started up again the minute they left, all the while drinking and then remaking (we are not cretins) a fresh pot for the rest of the class.

When Susan and I traveled to France in 1988, I fell in love with a French breakfast:  a hot pot of coffee, perfectly warmed milk and French bread that tasted like heaven.  C'est superb!  A return trip to France for my honeymoon in 1991 yielded the same results and then as if French coffee wasn't the bomb, we went to Italy where I had bona fide espresso and yes, often late at night, just like mom.  Even my husband got into a coffee mood and he doesn't generally drink the stuff.

But then things came to a screeching halt as I started having stomach problems.  So I went to see a (new) doctor and we met in his office so he could review my symptoms.  "How much coffee do you drink per day?" he queried.  "Oh, probably a pot of it," said I.  "And sodas?"  "Umm....maybe 3-4?"  "Per day?" he asked.  "Per day."  "And chocolate?"  "Chocolate?  Of course.  Duh."

At which point, the man reached into a desk drawer, pulled out a bottle of water, slammed it on the desk and said, somewhat snarkily "Have you ever heard of water?????"  "I might have," said I.

And so the good doctor pointed out that my stomach problems were due to too much caffeine and that I needed to cut way back if not cut it out entirely if I didn't want further problems, a message I took to heart, such that when I went home, I decided to go cold turkey.  This was a big mistake.

A few years before I quit caffeine, I stopped smoking but in that case, I weaned myself down to two cigarettes a day before quitting all together.  But with caffeine, instead of cutting down and cutting out, I stupidly got it into my head that it was all or nothing and so I stopped the presses on the whole shebang.

And people, was I ill or what?  I got a migraine of monumental proportions and my back when out such that I was reduced to sleeping on the floor in a fetal position because it hurt to lay on my mattress or sofa.  All this happened over Labor Day weekend, no less, and so for days on end, I suffered until finally, on a Tuesday, I could get in to see my chiropractor.  And believe it or not, the thought of starting up coffee again and then quitting, only to go through that hell again, was what made me caffeine-free.  And except for a few serving boo-boo's here and there where servers poured me the real deal (and I could tell with one sip that it was real), I have given up regular coffee, sodas with caffeine and have cut down considerably on chocolate although I do like some here and there.  Perhaps a bit more "here" than "there" but it's chocolate so... As a PS, giving up two out of three vices – cigarettes and coffee is not bad but I'll be damned if I give up cocktails.  Damned, I tell you!

Now all this happened before Starbucks came on the scene world-wide and so traveling to countries where coffee is mostly revered was challenging.

When Andy and I went to Spain and Portugal in 1993, I expanded my Spanish language skills to include the word "descafeinado" – decaf!  I used this at a few hotels we stayed at and it worked like a charm.  It didn't work so much at smaller hotels or small restaurants but I was too busy drinking wine, and Andy, beer, to care!

Then in England in 1994, I pretty much gave it up all together as I couldn't drink tea (pity that, as I'm told there is nothing like an English high tea) and the English really don't do a very good job on coffee.  It's passable, but that's all it was.  If anything, I was more challenged by what to drink in a pub where beer and ale are king than I was with the coffee issue and finally decided that English hard cider was not all that bad.  In fact, it was almost tasty.  I hope I don't have to tell you that ordering wine in a pub back then was not a good idea.  Quite.

Rounding out the last of our "across the pond" excursions (several in a row) was a trip to Eastern Europe – Czech Republic, Poland, Austria and Germany – and for that, I found that Folgers made decaf coffee in little "travel" tea bags so all I had to do was ask for hot water and voila – coffee!

Except.  Asking for hot water proved to be more challenging than I ever imagined as I didn't know the word for hot water in any of those countries' languages.  Unbelievably, I managed to get hot water in Prague and Krakow (Poland) and even in Austria despite the fact that  Viennese kaffeehauses (coffee houses) are a big deal.   (By the way, to this day, Andy and I have no idea what on earth a dish called "Drunken Man" in Prague was all about.  We saw that on a restaurant's menu and just laughed.)

So I was all happy and everything until we got to Germany.  Andy knew a little German and so he told me the words for "hot" and "water" and given that I studied and  romance languages, I asked for hot water the way I would in Spain, France or Italy which is to say "water hot."  So I asked for "wasser heis" and got a blank stare.  So I tried again and nothing.  Then Andy said "I think they say it like we do – hot water" and so this time I said "Heiswasser" and liftoff!  We had liftoff!  I got my hot water and all was well with the world.

Since then, you can't go two feet without running into a coffee shop and not just here but pretty much everywhere.  An acquaintance of mine worked in Kuwait City and he had a Starbucks just blocks away for crying out loud!

That said, decaf drinkers are somewhat discriminated against (much to my dismay) and a few years back, Starbucks decided not to brew decaf after 11:00 (they do pour-overs instead) and this ticked me off to no end but there's nothing that can be done about it.    Our local chain, Caribou, though brews decaf in small pots that are available all day, every day and this is why I love them and patronize them.  Hell, even McDonalds has brewed decaf all day every day and you know what, it's not too bad.  Plus, McD is practically everywhere so in a pinch, it will do.

 So you might ask yourself why then, do I have a coffee and tea cookbook?  Because I can.  And because not all the recipes have coffee or tea in them, in fact only a handful do.  And so I made this recipe using decaf espresso (Italians everywhere are shuddering) and am eating it while drinking my decaf coffee.  And that's how I roll.

This cookbook is divided into themed chapters:  "Coffee Talk," where you'll learn all about coffee and the making thereof; "Awakenings," containing recipes for breads, pancakes and other breakfast items; "Beyond the Coffee Break" although it's more like snacks to go with an afternoon tea and "Scrumptious Endings" that has desserts and coffee drinks.  I don't think anyone will have any trouble finding some incredible edible to eat with their coffee or tea.  As a note, I was tempted by "Java Gingerbread" – p. 44 – but since refuse to get into the whole fall spice mode and that includes gingerbread, I passed.  I don't like fall.  I don't really like fall spices.  Don't get me started then, on the burn I felt when Starbucks started advertising that Pumpkin Lattes were coming soon, this in July!  No!  No, no, hell no!  And this is why, in part, Java Gingerbread is not being featured here today; instead, you are getting a delicious espresso cake (although mine was decaf) with chocolate because I like to live dangerously! Well almost. Enjoy. 

Espresso Swirl Coffee Cake – Yield:  12 servings
2/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar
¼ c plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 ½ tablespoons finely ground espresso beans
¾ cup (1 and ½ sticks) unsalted butter:  ¼ cup unsalted butter for the topping, ½ cup unsalted butter, softened, for the batter.
1 cup sugar
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup sour cream
½ teaspoon baking soda
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup semisweet chocolate morsels

Combine the first three ingredients – brown sugar, flour and ground espresso – stirring well.  Cut in ¼ cup butter with a pastry blender until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.  Set aside.  Ann's Note:  this is so much easier if done in a Cuisinart.

Beat ½ cup softened butter at medium speed of an electric mixer until creamy; gradually add 1 cup sugar, beating well.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition.

Combine sour cream and baking soda; stir well and set aside.  Combine 2 cups flour, baking powder, and salt; add to egg mixture alternating with sour cream mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture.  Mix at low speed just until blended after each addition.  Stir in chocolate morsels.

Pour batter into a buttered 13 x 9 x 2-inch pan.  Sprinkle espresso streusel mixture over batter.  Swirl batter gently with a knife, if desired.  Ann's Notes:  this batter got a little stiff and I'm not sure why.  It didn't pour so I had to spoon it instead. As to the espresso streusel, it was good but it made a lot. 

Bake at 350 for 30 to 35 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean.  Cool in pan on a wire rack.

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