coffee cake bread pudding

the highest and best use of leftovers

I told you I'd get around to this post.  It's fashionably late for sure but don't worry, mom...I'm back.  

April has been full of new work and some seriously crazy new opportunities.  I'm not sure if life tends to become routine by default or if it's more of a choice (I think it's this one) but right now it's such an adventure and if it really is the latter I hope and pray I never shy away from choosing and chasing adventure.  Eating up every moment right now.  For better or worse it's also been a month of online identity crisis.  Okay maybe not crisis but definitely creative/online identity angst.  When it comes to creative direction I have the attention span of a goldfish and picking up a new project while knee-deep in an existing one is pretty commonplace.  The only result seems to be that NOTHING gets done.  Case in point, this month I disconnected this space from my professional one, changed the name, changed it back, redefined the focus, AND just for fun changed all the fonts and colors.  And clearly we're back where we started.  Not sure what the point was but perhaps this routine restless creative upheaval is just a side affect of chasing the adventure.  Maybe it's fear of the routine.  Working it out one day at a time.  

Anyway, at long last, the highest and best use of all these coffee cake recipes I've been throwing at you.  Like many genius kitchen creations, this one was born out of a creative use of leftovers.  Waste not, want not.  Last Fall, after several days of shooting the Easter catalog for Williams Sonoma we had quite a few less-than-fresh coffee cakes on our hands.  Throwing it all out seemed like such a waste so on a whim I thought, throw some custard on that and we've got family breakfast for our sizable crew.  The rest is history as was the finished product not more than 20 minutes out of the oven the next morning.  People ate it up.  Literally.  And loved it.  And we couldn't believe we'd never had such a thing.  Surely the idea wasn't original.  Everything's been done before.  But it was new to us.  Bread pudding in any form is, ironically, my absolute favorite kind of dessert.  If there's one thing that I long for having been gluten free for over 3 years, it's bread pudding.  Not pizza.  Not pasta.  Not even just straight up bread.  But bread pudding.  I haven't yet mastered gluten-free bread BUT all of my coffee cakes are now gluten free thanks to this book and I love them even more than their gluten-full counterparts.  A big, beautiful sheet tray of this was just the thing for Easter brunch.  


coffee cake bread pudding

I came away from my time as a pastry cook with a little black book full of prize recipes and the custard in this pudding is one of them.  It's basically liquid ice cream.   If you need a killer gf coffee cake recipe, I happen to have one for you right here.  I'll now bake a coffee cake specifically for the purpose of this recipe but any leftover coffee cake will do.  Whatever you use, it needs to stale a bit to really soak up the custard so if your coffee cake is fresh, slice or cube it and place in a 300 degree oven for 10-15 minutes to dry it out.  You can easily adjust the pan size and cut the custard recipe in half.  The streusel is optional - your particular cake may be better without.  

method

  1. Generously butter a 9 x 11 baking dish and sprinkle with sugar.  Place the coffee cake slices or cubes in the prepared pan.  
  2. To make the streusel, pulse together the flour, brown sugar, sea salt, and nutmeg.  Add the butter and pulse to form coarse crumbs.  Add the walnuts and do the same.  Set aside. 
  3. In a medium saucepan bring the milk and heavy cream just to a simmer.  Remove from heat.
  4. In a large bowl whisk together the remaining ingredients.  Slowly pour add the hot cream mixture to the egg yolk mixture whisking as you go.  Strain through a fine mesh sieve. 
  5. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Pour the mixture over the coffee cake and allow the cake to soak up the custard, about 20 minutes.  Pour any remaining custard over the top and cover with streusel.  Bake for 30-40 minutes or until the pudding is just set and the edges are beginning to brown  

ingredients

1 coffee cake, sliced or cubed
1 1/3 cups flour (gf or ap)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 cup cold butter, cubed
1 cup walnuts
2 cups whole milk
2 cups heavy cream
6 egg yolks
2/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon fine sea salt


bananas foster coffee cake

with brown sugar streusel and caramel sauce

bananas_foster_coffee_cake

I just posted a coffee cake, I know.  I knooooowwww.  I told you (and apparently it's true) I get on these kicks.  First tomatoes.  Now coffee cake.  And my next post (i.e. this post) was supposed to be about the higher calling of the last coffee cake I made.  It did, in fact, fulfill its calling but in between then and now I posted this iPhone shot to Insta and gave myself 24 hours to get this recipe up and out.  It's officially been more than 24 hours (and kind of an insane one at that) so this gets priority.  AND it too can have a higher calling if you want it to so this pending post will still apply.

My best friend Allison has the most incredible library of cookbooks with two and three new titles added to it weekly.  For me, it's like kid in a candy store status over there every Sunday night for dinner.  But by the time we're done with all the chattering and eating we're pretty much falling asleep on the couch.  There's little time then, and basically in life, to just peruse through the hundreds of titles and thousands of pages. My eyes light up the same every Sunday at the sight of them regardless.  Last time I was there, I checked out a few titles and brought them home with me.  We'd been planning our second annual Easter brunch (or at least planning on planning it) for weeks.  Like I said earlier, planning the menu is (no surprise) my favorite part.  And planning dessert is my favorite part of my favorite part.  This coffee cake came from one of those borrowed titles and it. is. in. sane.  And it obviously made the cut for the final menu.  It's everything you love about banana bread plus cream cheese plus rum plus streusel PLUS caramel sauce.  It's like someone took everything you ever loved about dessert and put it in one pan.  Almost.  And that reaaaalllly truly is what the next post is about.  But you have to start with cake.  Coffee cake.  


bananas foster coffee cake with brown sugar streusel and caramel sauce

This recipe is from a beautiful book published by the editors of Southern Living Magazine called The Southern Baker.  It looks like there are a lot of moving parts but each goes quickly.  In the original recipe all of these ingredients are in one combined list which was a little confusing and very nearly tripped me up more than once so I've divided it out.  You can make the streusel, caramel sauce, and even the rum bananas ahead.  

method for bananas

  1. Combine bananas through salt in a saute pan over medium-high heat and cook until bubbly and mixture begins to carmelize.  Remove from the heat and cool for 15 minutes, stirring on occasion to release the heat.  Stir in the vanilla. 

method for streusel

  1. Pulse together the flour and brown sugar in the bowl of a food processor.  Add the butter and pulse until evenly combined and mixture starts to come together.  Add walnuts and salt and pulse until it's to a consistency you like.

method for the cake

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Butter and flour an 8x11" baking pan.
  2. On medium-high speed, beat the butter and cream cheese until combined.  Add brown sugar and beat until light and airy, scraping down the sides as needed.  Beat in the eggs one at a time.
  3. In a large bowl whisk together the flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda.  Add to the cream cheese mixture and beat on low speed until combined.  Stir in the banana mixture.
  4. Pour batter into prepared pan,  sprinkle generously with streusel, and bake for 40-45 minutes or until a tester comes out clean.  Cool in the pan on a wire rack.  Spoon a good quality store-bought or the following caramel sauce over it to serve.

method for the caramel sauce

  1. Combine the brown sugar and heavy cream over medium-low heat, stirring gently to dissolve.  Add the butter and increase the heat to medium high.  Bring the mixture to a boil and cook until thickened, 5-7 minutes.  Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla and the salt.  

ingredients for bananas

1 1/2 cups ripe bananas, mashed
1/4 cup rum
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup butter
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla

ingredients for the streusel

1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup cold butter, diced
1 cup walnuts
1 teaspoon fine sea salt

ingredients for the cake

1 8oz package of cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda

ingredients for the caramel sauce

1 cup brown sugar
4 tablespoons butter
1/3 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt