Scott n

This week’s Scott n’ Pepper column is all about coffee cake, although it goes by a variety of names.

In this column recipes fall into three basic categories.

There are recipes that highlight some fleeting seasonal ingredient that I want to encourage people to seek out. There are recipes through which I want to highlight some technique that’s broadly useful to more than just the featured recipe. And, finally, there are recipes where someone in my life has asked me how to make something, so I write it down in this here column. Today’s recipe is one of those.

A couple of months ago I was on vacation with my father and we went to a little coffee shop that’s known for its Dutch apple pie. Like really known for their pie. In the 45 minutes my dad and I were at the counter the shop went through dozens of slices. Everyone was there for the pie.

The first thing I noticed about the Dutch pie is that it was not a pie by any conceivable American definition. It was moist and cakey, with no clear separation between crust and apple filling. The dutchie is what we Americans would call “coffee cake.”

My dad really liked the Dutch pie, despite his normal avoidance of both apple pie and cinnamon. My dad’s not a picky eater but the list of foods he says he doesn’t like is longer than the list of foods he actually does like.

After we got back from the vacation my father was clearly taken with the pie. Our phone conversations would usually briefly touch on the pie and include a request that I learn to make it.

When I set out to attempt the Dutch pie my starting point was an apple cake from the wonderful blogger and cookbook writer Deb Perelman.

Years ago she published her mother’s recipe for Jewish apple cake. I made the cake several times, and always loved it, and knew it was pretty close to the Dutch version. I tweaked the flavorings, made the dough stiffer with more flour and added butter to get a more pie-like feel. Success ensued.

One bit of warning for those making this cake: It needs a lengthy cool-down period, so planning and patience are needed. If you cut into the cake before it’s completely cooled it will fall apart. If you want to eat it the same day you make it, you have to start in the morning. You’ve been warned. 

Scott Eren writes about his culinary interests twice monthly. Contact him at columnists@jhnewsandguidecom.

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