I am quite taken by the treats in the pastry case at Blue Bottle Coffee. It seems that their pastries are meant to be paired with coffee. I guess third wave coffee places take into account "coffee pairing". It's similar to pairing wine or beer with food, but I think there is a bit more leeway when pairing food* with coffee.
Blue Bottle has olive oil rosemary shortbread, St. George Spirit's absinthe biscotti regina, and saffron snickerdoodles just to name a few. And there are the modern art inspired desserts at the SFMOMA location. But the most intriguing of the pastries is the stout coffee cake topped with pecan and caraway streusel. So in honor of SF Beer Week, a 10-day long festival that celebrates the amazing beers from Northern Californian breweries, I offer you this coffee cake recipe.
The stout coffee cakes at the Bay Area Blue Bottle locations are made with San Francisco's Magnolia's Stout of Circumstance (oatmeal stout, 6.20%ABV). For their Brooklyn location, they use Brooklyn Brewery’s Black Chocolate Stout (Russian imperial stout, 10.00%ABV). Since Magnolia does not sell bottles of their Stout of Circumstance I had to find an appropriate substitute. After consulting the guys at Healthy Spirits I decided on Fort Bragg's North Coast Brewing's Old Rasputin (Russian imperial stout, 9%ABV).
And although I am not much of a beer drinker, I am married to a beer geek. He leans towards IPAs (double hops, triple hops, oh my!). So beer is a big part of our lives. I absolutely adore this stout coffee cake. Mine tasted a bit different from the one Blue Bottle sells, but it's a pretty close approximation and almost as good.
I really enjoy caraway seeds so I use about 1.5 teaspoons (as opposed to just 1 teaspoon) in the streusel when I make this cake. If you're not a caraway fan, you can omit them, but I suggest using them at least once to fully appreciate what the pastry chef at BB intended. Caraway adds a very nice flavor and pairs well with the stout's maltiness and with a nice cup of coffee.
[*A lot of people say "Sriracha goes with everything", but my husband and I like to say that coffee goes with everything. But that is not always the case. When we are eating something that I don't think goes with coffee, I always ask my husband if what we're eating would go with coffee. Do you think this carnitas burrito goes with coffee? Bulgogi and kimchi? Salted fish fried rice? Rib eye steak with blue cheese butter? Um, not so much.]
Stout Coffee Cake with Pecan and Caraway Streusel
(Makes a baker's dozen)
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon caraway seeds
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup (4 ounces / 1 stick) butter, cold, cut into cubes
1 1/4 cups pecans, coarsely chopped
1 1/2 cups (12 fluid ounces) imperial stout beer
1 1/2 cups whole rolled oats (not quick-cooking)
1/2 cup dried Zante currants
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
10 tablespoons (5 ounces / 1 stick plus 2 tablespoons) butter, softened at room temp
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup brown sugar
3 large eggs, at room temp
To make the streusel:
1. In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, mix flour, granulated sugar, brown sugar, caraway seeds, and salt on low speed until combined.
2. Add cold, cubed butter and mix on low speed until the mixture resembles coarse cornmeal. Add pecans and mix just until mixture begins to clump together.
3. Store streusel in refrigerator until ready to use.
To make the cakes:
1. Two hours before you begin mixing the cake, combine oats, currants and stout in a bowl. Set aside.
2. After the oats and currants have soaked for two hours, preheat the oven to 350F. Combine flour, baking soda and salt in a bowl and whisk or sift to combine. Set aside.
3. In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat butter on medium speed until smooth, about 1 minute. Add granulated and brown sugars to butter and mix on low speed until just combined. Scrape down bowl and increase speed to medium. Mix until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes.
4. In a small bowl, whisk eggs to lightly combine. Slowly add the eggs to the butter-sugar mixture on low speed. This can either be done in a slow, steady stream or in a few batches. Scrape down thoroughly and often. Note: A broken (or curdled) batter is due to either cold eggs or eggs added too quickly.
5. Drain the stout-oat-currant mixture and reserve the stout and the soaked oat-currant mixture in separate bowls.
6. On low speed, incorporate the flour mixture and stout into the butter-sugar-egg mixture in three batches by alternating the flour and stout (begin and end with the flour). Mix just until the flour is moistened.
7. Remove bowl from the stand mixer and, using a rubber spatula, gently fold in the oats and currants.
8. Spread 13 4-inch-diameter paper baking molds on baking trays and fill each mold halfway with batter. Top generously with streusel.
9. Bake at 350F for about 30 minutes. Rotate trays once during baking. Cakes are done when they are golden and spring back to the touch.
Recipe adapted from this recipe