A Pine Nut Coffee Cake, If You’re So Inclined

This is a pine nut coffee cake:

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It comes from the Babbo cookbook. It’s the cake I tried to make a few weeks ago, only to fail, leading to the hit film Failure. This time the cake came out a-ok (last time I forgot to add the butter) and the finished product looks pretty and tastes…well, interesting. Subtle. Not bad, but not fantastic. I like the unusual components that go into it, but much like the time I made Nancy Silverton’s banana bread all those components don’t really add up to much. With that said, I left out the two suggested accompaniments: figs and sweet black peper ricotta. Maybe that makes it better.

But for those that are so inclined (as the title suggests) here’s the recipe for the cake. It’s worth reading through because it’s kind of interesting. You’ll need the following ingredients for the struesel that goes on top.

1/2 cup pine nuts

2 Tbs light brown sugar, packed

1/4 cup granulated sugar

3/4 cup unbleached, all purpose flour

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled

So, to make the struessel: combine the pine nuts, sugars and flour in a food processor and pulse to combine. Here it is before pulsing:

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After pulsing, add the melted butter and pulse until the mixture is combined and forms pea-size crumbs. Set aside.

Now for the cake itself. Here’s what you’ll need:

3/4 cup pine nuts

1 cup plus 2 Tbs all-purpose flour

1 tsp kosher salt

1 cup semolina flour

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/4 cup light brown sugar

1/2 cup plus 2 Tbs granulated sugar

3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, chilled and cut into cubes

3 eggs

3 Tbs extra virgin olive oil

finely grated zest of 1 lemon

1 1/2 tsps pure vanilla extract

1. Preheat the oven to 325 F. Spray a 9-inch springform pan with nonstick cooking spray.

2. Spread the 3/4 cup of pine nuts evenly onto a baking sheet and toast in the oven untnil light golden brown, approximately 10 minutes. When the pine nuts have cooled, place them in the bowl of a food processor along with the flour, salt, semolina, baking powder, light brown sugar, and 1/2 cup of the granulated sugar and pulse to combine.

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Add the cold butter cubes

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and pulse until the butter has dispersed and the mixture is finely textured.

3. In a small bowl, combine the eggs, olive oil, lemon zest, and vanilla.

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Add this mixture to the pine nut mixture and pulse to combine, then process for about 30 seconds to completely emulsify the batter. Spread the batter evenly in the prepared pan and sprinkle evenly with the streusel.

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4. Bake the cake for 30 to 35 minutes or until it is golden brown and a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes, then remove the sides of the pan and allow the cake to cool completely.

That’s it! I have to say, either the oven temp is too low or the cooking time is too short because even though the cake did get brown and a cake tester did come out clean the cake was a bit underdone when I bit into it. Not terribly so, though. And maybe this cake will grow on me when I come back to it tomorrow. If you ever make it, let me know, I’m interested to know what you think!

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