When I was a kid, we would spend Christmas break at my grandparents in Chicago. Part of the tradition was coffee cake from a local Polish deli.
There aren’t many Polish deli’s in Texas you know.
Now as adults 20+ years later, my sister and I still talk about that coffee cake. This might sound strange, but that coffee cake (and the tradition and memories it represents) holds a special place in my heart. So much so, that I’ve never tried any other coffee cake.
Have you heard of einkorn? In short, it’s an ancient grain that is higher in protein, higher in vitamins and yet less starchy than modern wheat. It has never been hybridized, which means that it retains all the nutrients our bodies need to properly digest it (which makes it gentler on our tummies and in some cases, suitable for those who struggle with gluten).
I’ve experimented with a few einkorn recipes since adding it to our whole grain repertoire. Light and Fluffy Dinner Rolls and Naturally Sweetened Homemade Biscotti are both based on einkorn and are so, SO good, that they’ve made it to the official “Crumbs Must-Make Holiday Food” list.
And as I’m sure you know, it takes a lot to change holiday tradition!
Earlier this year I created and shared Homemade English Muffins, which are so much better than store-bought, you might end up making a massive batch and eating all of them fresh off the griddle with gobs of butter.
Not that I would know anything about that myself!
I’ll admit – my experience with einkorn is based largely on trial and error. I read a little bit about einkorn from Jovial Foods to at least point me in the right direction, but since einkorn behaves differently than modern wheat, it forced me to get hands-on experience in the kitchen to truly understand how it worked in action.
Creating a recipe from scratch with einkorn is a big feat, and there were many days when I was testing batch after batch that I was wishing someone had written an einkorn cookbook so I didn’t have so many errors in my testing.
And wouldn’t you know, Jovial came out with one!
Einkorn: Recipes for Nature’s Original Wheat is seriously a must-have manual for anyone interested in baking with einkorn. There’s a whole section called Working with Einkorn that appeals my inner food geek because it explains both the practical “how” and the scientific “why” behind einkorn.
It sounds trivial, but understanding why you do what you do when you’re cooking and baking means making something that turns out good. It means more delicious food and less error in the trials.
And honestly, it makes you a better cook!
Money Saving Tip: Crumbs readers can save 25% off the cover price of Einkorn: Recipes for Nature’s Original Wheat when you buy through this link. While you’re there, enjoy 10% off your purchase + free shipping with coupon code DWCRUMBS!
I spent a relaxing afternoon thumbing through the pages in the book and reading the notes that Carla (the author and founder of Jovial Foods) wrote about each recipe. There were SO MANY that I wanted to make, but one in particular stood out at me: Overnight Kefir Coffee Cake.
Now, I certainly wasn’t trying to set this recipe up for failure given the coffee cake from my childhood sits on a pedestal. I really don’t think there’s anything I could make that would replace those memories. But instead, I wanted to be able to enjoy a great homemade coffee cake at home year round, no matter where I lived!
And oh man, this recipe does not disappoint!
I love that it’s whole grain, and that it’s not overly sweet. It means I can make it on a regular basis and not feel guilty offering it to the kids for breakfast.
One batch fills a 9×13 pan, and it bakes up high. That’s music to this busy mama’s ears, since the one pan can last for almost a whole week’s worth of breakfast.
I also love that it’s made with kefir. Although the probiotics of kefir aren’t there post-baking, the signature tang is. When combined with the powdered sugar, every bite is like a party for the taste buds.
It’s also WAY easy to make. Don’t let the steps fool you – it’s essentially mixing dry with wet a little bit at a time and letting it sit overnight. If you’re a beginner with einkorn – or with baking in general – this is a no-fail recipe for sure.
The final test though is the family, and I’m happy to say Overnight Kefir Coffee Cake passed with flying colors. Both kids said “Mmm, this is good!” out loud upon first taste, and both asked for second pieces. My son asked if he could have this for his birthday cake later this month, which I think is a great idea!
- For the Cake
2½ cups all-purpose einkorn flour, plus more for dusting
- 2 tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp baking soda
- ½ tsp salt
- 10 Tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature (save the wrappers)
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- ½ cup dark brown sugar, packed (see notes below)
- 3 large eggs
- ½ tsp vanilla
- 1 cup kefir
- For the Crumb Topping
3/4 cup all-purpose einkorn flour
- ¼ cup granulated sugar
- ¼ tsp salt
- 6 Tbsp unsalted butter, cold and cut into ¼" cubes
- ¼ tsp ground cinnamon
- ¼ tsp cocoa powder
- powdered sugar, for dusting
- Make the Cake. Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl.
- In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter on medium-low speed for 2-3 minutes. Add the sugars and mix on medium-low for 1-2 minutes, until the batter is fluffy and whipped. Add the eggs and vanilla and mix on medium-low until just combined, scraping down the sides and bottom of the bowl. Detach the bowl from the mixer.
- Use a spatula to fold half of the flour mixture into the egg mixture. Fold in ½ cup of the kefir, then repeat with the remaining flour mixture and kefir until everything is just combined. (Do not overwork the batter.)
- Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator all night, or up to 8 hours.
- When you are ready to bake, use the butter wrappers to butter and flour a 9x13 baking dish. Preheat the oven to 350F.
- Remove the batter from the refrigerator and spread it out into the prepared dish. Set aside.
- Make the Topping. Mix together the flour, granulated sugar and salt in a medium bowl. Cut the butter into the flour mixture with your fingers or a pastry blender until the butter is completely incorporated into the flour in small chunks. The topping can be made at night and stored in the refrigerator with the cake batter.
- Sprinkle half of the mixture on top of the cake.
- In a small bowl, combine the cinnamon and cocoa powder and sprinkle evenly over the topping.
- Sprinkle the remaining topping over the cinnamon and cocoa. Bake for 42 minutes until the middle springs back when pressed with your finger.
- Let the cake sit in the pan for 1 hour until completely cooled. Dust with powdered sugar and serve.
Additional Recipe Notes
I’ve written the recipe above just like it is in the cookbook, but I did substitute 1/2 cup granulated sugar and 1 Tbsp molasses for the dark brown sugar since I didn’t have any in my kitchen.
Next time I make this (likely next week!) I’ll double both the cinnamon and cocoa powder and add it to the flour/sugar mixture rather than sprinkling it on separately. Just to eliminate one dish. I’ll also make the crumb topping the night before. It didn’t take very long to make (maybe a minute?), but doing it while I’m doing the batter means less clean up in the morning.
Don’t forget – Crumbs readers can save 25% off the cover price of Einkorn: Recipes for Nature’s Original Wheat when you buy through this link. While you’re there, enjoy 10% off your purchase + free shipping with coupon code DWCRUMBS!
Do you have a favorite dish with fond memories from childhood? I’d love to reminisce with you in the comments!
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