Three separate parts—rich vanilla bean cake, sweet port-cherry swirl, and crunchy almond streusel—come together in this recipe to make one elegant coffee cake. Dried cherries are cooked with ruby port until syrupy, then swirled into a thick sour cream–vanilla cake batter. A buttery almond streusel tops the batter for some crunch. It’s an impressive cake to serve with a cup of tea or coffee for brunch, Mother’s Day, or any special afternoon gathering.
What to buy: For this recipe, use bleached cake flour such as Softasilk, for a tender cake that will rise high and evenly. Do not use unbleached cake flour, which yields denser results.
Special equipment: You’ll need a 10-inch tube pan with a removable bottom to make this cake.
This recipe was featured as part of our Crunchy, Swirly, and Yeasty Coffee Cakes for Mother’s Day.
- 1Place all of the ingredients in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat and bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer until the liquid starts to thicken and reduces to 1/4 cup, about 25 to 30 minutes. Remove to a medium heatproof bowl and discard the cinnamon stick and vanilla bean pod. Place uncovered in the refrigerator and chill for at least 20 minutes.
For the almond streusel:
- 1Heat the oven to 350˚F and arrange a rack in the middle.
- 2Whisk the butter, sugars, and salt in a medium bowl until combined. Add the flour and almonds and stir with a rubber spatula until the mixture forms a soft dough. Set aside to cool to room temperature, about 10 to 15 minutes. Meanwhile, make the cake batter.
For the cake:
- 1Coat a 10-inch tube pan with butter and flour; tap out the excess and set the pan aside.
- 2Whisk the measured flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl until evenly combined; set aside.
- 3Place the measured butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Mix on medium speed until lightened in color, about 2 minutes. Add the sugar slowly and continue mixing until the butter is pale yellow and fluffy, about 5 minutes total. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl and the paddle with a rubber spatula.
- 4Return the mixer to medium speed and add the vanilla seeds. Add the eggs 1 at a time, letting each completely incorporate before adding the next. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides and paddle again.
- 5Turn the mixer to low, add a third of the flour mixture, and mix until just combined. Add half of the sour cream and mix until just incorporated. Repeat, alternating dry and wet ingredients and ending with the dry ingredients, until completely incorporated. (Do not overmix, or the cake will be tough.)
- 6Remove the bowl from the mixer and add the reserved port-cherry mixture. Using a rubber spatula and scraping against the bottom of the bowl, fold just until large streaks of the mixture appear in the batter, about 4 strokes. Turn the batter into the prepared pan and spread it into an even layer.
- 7Using your hands, crumble the reserved streusel into 1/2-inch pieces. Sprinkle it evenly over the batter, then lightly press it into the batter.
- 8Bake until a cake tester or wooden skewer inserted into the center comes out with a few crumbs and the top is golden brown, about 50 minutes. Remove the pan to a wire rack and let cool, at least 1 hour.
- 9To remove the cake from the pan, run a knife between the cake and the perimeter of the pan. Lift and remove the base with the cake on it. Run the knife around the tube and between the base and the cake. Press the palm of 1 hand against the streusel topping and invert the cake onto that hand. Place the other hand on the bottom of the cake, invert the cake again, and place it on a cutting board or serving dish.