Let’s have a heart-to-heart.
When the going gets tough, I eat a lot of chocolate. Specifically, brownies. Specifically, frozen brownies with peanut butter on top. Maybe with some ice cream on the side.
When the going gets tough, I kick it out with Jillian Michaels, or with some downward dog, or by riding my bike until my hair is glued to my sweaty face and passersby start avoiding my gaze because I’m giving myself pep talks while pedaling up the hills.
When the going gets tough, I call my mama, or I watch “You’ve Got Mail” and give my cat a bear hug — or, I bake.
When the going got tough this week, I made coffee cake. And the going got a little less tough.
This isn’t your typical grocery store-bought, streusel-and-sugar-and-glaze-topped coffee cake. It’s substantial and flavorful and fruity, but not overwhelming. It stands up to a mean cup of coffee, but it’s light enough that you won’t feel gross for the rest of the day. It’s delicious both warm or at room temperature, and it tastes even better if you let it sit out overnight and save it for brunch the next morning (or Easter Sunday, mayhaps?). But when I made it for my family, it disappeared within a day. So I suggest if you plan to wait, you should plan to hide it, too.
Of course, if all else fails, you can whip up a second batch in a few short minutes — in case you need backup when the going gets tough again.
Almond-Apricot Coffee Cake
Adapted from Sunset Magazine
Yields: 10-12 servings
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) cold butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon orange zest
3/4 cup plain yogurt
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 large eggs
6 ounces neufchatel cream cheese, room temperature
1 teaspoon orange juice
1 1/4 cup apricot preserves
1/2 cup sliced almonds
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Generously butter a 9-inch cake pan or springform pan and set aside.
In a large bowl or bowl of a food processor, whisk or pulse flour and 3/4 cup sugar. Add butter and cut in or pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal. Reserve 1/2 cup of the mixture and set aside; pour the rest into a large bowl. Stir in baking powder, baking soda, salt and orange zest.
In a separate medium bowl, stir together yogurt, vanilla, and 1 egg until combined. Pour into flour-baking powder mixture and stir until combined. Spread batter evenly into bottom of prepared pan.
In a separate large bowl, using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat together cream cheese, remaining 1/4 cup sugar, remaining egg and orange juice until smooth and free of lumps. Pour cream cheese mixture on top of batter in pan, leaving a 1/2-inch border around the edges.
Carefully spread apricot preserves on top of cream cheese mixture, leaving a 1/2-inch border around the edges of the cream cheese mixture. Toss almonds in reserved flour mixture and sprinkle over cake, concentrating on the edges.
Bake 40 to 50 minutes or until cake is golden brown and the center barely jiggles. Remove from oven and let cool at least 20 minutes before slicing and serving.