Make Ahead

Spicy Chocolate - Pecan Coffee Cake

December  7, 2010
0 Ratings
  • Serves 8
Author Notes

The first time I made this, I thought it reminded me of the Sara Lee coffee cakes that I grew up with. (Only better. A lot better.) I based the recipe on a coffee cake recipe from King Arthur. It is one of my husband's favorite things in the universe. I've upped the spices, cut back on the cinnamon and even added a little heat. The spices are forgiving and can be adjusted to your taste, and it's a great winter breakfast--it warms up your morning with a cup of strong coffee. —drbabs

What You'll Need
  • For the Starter
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/8 teaspoon active dry yeast
  • For the Dough
  • All of the Starter
  • 2 3/4 cups all purpose flour (I've used white whole wheat flour.)
  • 3 teaspoons active dry yeast (the rest of one package after you've made the starter)
  • 2/3 cup milk, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup butter (1 stick), room temperature
  • 1 egg, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • For the Chocolate Spiced Pecan Filling
  • 1 cup chopped and toasted pecans
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon allspice
  • 1 pinch cayenne (optional)
  • 10-15 pecan halves
  • 1 pinch kosher salt
  • For the Icing
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1/2-1 cups confectioner's sugar
  1. The night before you plan to make this cake, make a starter. Combine 1 cup of flour, 1/2 cup of water and 1/8 teaspoon of yeast (reserve the rest) in a small bowl and let it rest overnight at room temperature.
  2. In the bowl of your mixer (fitted with a dough hook), combine the starter, 2 3/4 cups of flour, milk, butter, egg, 1/4 cup of sugar, salt, vanilla extract and the rest of the yeast. Mix together 3-5 minutes on low speed until the dough is smooth, supple and stretches easily. This is a very wet dough, so I think it would be hard to do this by hand. Place the dough in a bowl, covered with a clean towel, and let it rise for about an hour. It may not double--that's OK.
  3. Mix together the toasted pecans,chocolate, spices and brown sugar. Gently deflate the dough and knead the chocolate-pecan-spice mixture into the dough. Keep folding the dough over itself until the spices are blended through the dough and the nuts and chocolate are fairly evenly distributed (but it doesn't have to be perfect). Shape the dough into a flat ball and place it in a 9-inch round cake pan. Cover with plastic wrap and allow the loaf to rise till it fills up the pan and slightly crests over the top. (about 2 hours) Place pecan halves in on top of the cake.
  4. Heat the oven to 350 and place the rack in the center of the oven. Bake for 45-50 minutes. It should be golden brown and an instant-read thermometer placed in the center of the cake should read 190 degrees. Remove from oven, and after about 5 minutes, take it out of the pan. (You may need to slide a knife around the edge to help release it.) Let it cool completely.
  5. When the cake has cooled, mix the confectioner's sugar, salt and maple syrup together, and drizzle it over the top of the cake. (If you have any leftover, be sure and wrap it in plastic wrap or the cut surfaces will dry out!)

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Dthomasc
  • lapadia
  • Sagegreen
  • Daphne
  • hardlikearmour

17 Reviews

Dthomasc November 25, 2011
I think I'm going to have to go back to Sarah Lee after making this.
drbabs November 26, 2011
I'm sorry to hear that. What about it didn't work for you?
drbabs November 26, 2011
You know, I'm looking at the recipe and I realize that the confectioner's sugar and a pinch of salt were missing from the ingredients list for the icing. I hope that's not why it turned out badly for you.
Dthomasc November 25, 2011
Going back to the Sara Lee.
lapadia November 16, 2011
Yum, mouthwatering, drbabs! Don't know how I missed these...
Sagegreen December 13, 2010
I have been trying not to look at this! Great advice for the starter. I have to resume daily walking to consider indulging....this sounds like a great incentive!
drbabs December 13, 2010
Thanks-- fortunately I had a meeting the night I made it so I brought it there.
Daphne December 9, 2010
Sara Lee! Her pound cake was our one and only from growing up!
We sliced it 1/2 inch thick, generously buttered each piece, crust to crust with soft, salted butter, then carefully watched the tray till each piece toasted perfectly under the broiler.
How fun you are recreating her recipes!
drbabs December 9, 2010
:) Thanks!
hardlikearmour December 8, 2010
This looks amazing! I love your use of the preferment, and that the cinnamon nut mixture is kneaded into the dough.
drbabs December 8, 2010
Thanks! If you make it, please let me know how it turns out.
mrslarkin December 7, 2010
That is so funny, drbabs! In our house, it was always Entenmann's coffee cake - and I would pick off all the topping first or save it all for last depending on my mood. Your recipe sounds delicious!! Saving it.
testkitchenette December 7, 2010
Great stories! I am a Bay Shore, NY girl...where Entenmann's originated (Dad went to school with them). I used your technique to eat the coffee cake on the RARE occasion I had some. My paternal grandmother was a sucker for cakes and used to buy it after getting her hair done. My mom used to cut us TINY slices of the cheese danish/strudel at coffee hour after church sometimes. I love your recipe reminds me of my grandmother's.
drbabs December 7, 2010
Well, I just brought it to a meeting and I had to beg them to leave a small piece for my husband! I never heard of Entemann's till I moved here to Long Island where, you are right, it is an institution.
TheWimpyVegetarian December 7, 2010
I love cinnamon coffee cakes. I can't do it with the nuts, but it looks like it would be fabulous anyway! Saved it to make over the holidays.
drbabs December 7, 2010
Thanks! I'm trying to upload more pictures but it keeps glitching out! If you can't do nuts, chopped dried fruit or chocolate chips would be good!
TheWimpyVegetarian December 7, 2010
Great ideas! thanks!