Confession: when I was a kid, I was wary of eating coffee cake, because I thought it was actually made of coffee, and my mother always told me coffee was a bitter adult’s drink that I shouldn’t have. 😛 Now I know way better! The term “coffee cake” is used loosely for any cake that’s served alongside coffee, and is usually accompanied by friendly house visits and good conversation. The best-known kind of coffee cake is the one you see in Entemann’s boxes or on the shelves alongside Drake’s cakes: they’re single-layer yellow cakes with a crumbly streussel topping of cinnamon, sugar, and fruits. Once I got old enough to learn that I could indeed eat it without my growth stunting, I indulged voraciously in the great coffee cake 🙂
Its loose definition makes for some very interesting coffee cake variations, since you basically only need a single-layer cake with a crumbly topping (and even that is based on popular conventions; really, all you need to make a coffee cake is the coffee you’re serving it with!) And Penelope on Lexington Avenue has definitely made the coffee cake their own. If you’re lucky enough to snag a table for weekend brunch there, you have got to try the sour cream raspberry coffee cake. It’s no longer conventional to use sour cream as a binder in a cake batter, but it’s certainly not out of the question, and it balances the sweetness of the cake and the crumbly, yummy mess on top nicely. It’s also complemented by the tartness of the raspberries, also piled on top of the cake to make for a delectable little bite with your morning coffee. You can definitely tell by the uniqueness of the flavor combinations and the taste of the freshly-made cake that Penelope didn’t take this coffee cake out of an Entemann’s box!
159 Lexington Ave (between 30th St & 29th St)
Some reviews from Yelp.com:
“My wife got the pumpkin pancakes and I ordered the Penny Egg Sandwich. We shared the Raspberry Sour Cream Coffee Cake. We both loved the food, which in many ways is typical yummy breakfast fare, but with a little touch of something extra (e.g. the pesto sauce on the egg sandwich). A very cute space, though a little tight. Very tasty food and quality service. Definitely worth checking out if you can time it out right.”–Nicholas F.
“Prix-Fixe came with an apple-cider mimosa or pomegranate Bellini this time around. Salmon Wrapped poached eggs and nutella french toast are quite good, as is the raspberry sour cream coffee cake.”–Shannon G.
I know that a few of my celiac-afflicted friends will look at this entry as yet another gluten-filled food recommendation they can’t themselves eat. But no need to sulk, gluten-free friends! Tu-Lu’s Gluten Free Bakery has you covered! One of the only all gluten-free bakeries in the city, Tu-Lu’s serves delicious cakes, cupcakes, vegan brownies, and other yummy desserts that’ll have you completely forgetting you’ve walked into a gluten-free zone. And their coffee cake is definitely one to write home about: with a sweet cinnamon crumble on top of fluffy yellow cake, their coffee cake goes perfectly with a cup of free-market coffee, unrefined sugar, and creamy organic soymilk 🙂
Tu-Lu’s Gluten-Free Bakery
338 E 11th St (between 2nd Ave & 1st Ave)
Some reviews from Yelp.com:
“Delicious baked goods that are all gluten free! I mean really, really good stuff that you cannot tell is gluten free. The have a dedicated gluten free kitchen! I am hooked on the cinnamon coffee cake. It is the best gluten free baked good I have put in my mouth since going gluten free. I wish I could eat it every day. The cupcakes are also amazing. They also make vegan stuff….and they have good coffee to go with that coffee cake.”–Anna P.
“The coffee cake was my favorite, probably because it’s something I never, ever get to eat. The crumblies on top were delicious, and the cake itself was just fantastic — moist, cinnamon-y, with a little bit of maybe almond flavor in there? Whatever it is, it was darn near perfect.”–Marisa C.
Make sure you check out the updated NYC Food Holidays Map to find this most recent holiday!