Cream Cheese Coffee Cake
Source: Cook's Illustrated, December 2009
There's a delicious coffee cake recipe in Corinne's family that is legendary; it makes an appearance at virtually all family events. This isn't it. So the fact that this one makes our favorites list says something about what we thought of it. It takes a little extra effort, so this isn't an everyday item.

Leftovers should be stored in the refrigerator, covered tightly with plastic wrap. For optimal texture, allow the cake to return to room temperature before serving.

Ingredients
Lemon Sugar-Almond Topping:
  • 1/4 c sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons finely grated zest from 1 lemon
  • 1/2 c sliced almonds
Cake:
  • 2 1/4 c (11.25 oz) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/8 t baking powder
  • 1 1/8 t baking soda
  • 1 t table salt
  • 10 T (1.25 sticks) unsalted butter, softened but still cool
  • 1 c + 7 T sugar
  • 1 T finely grated zest plus 4 t juice from 1-2 lemons
  • 4 large eggs
  • 5 t vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 c sour cream
  • 8 oz cream cheese, softened
Procedure
  1. FOR THE TOPPING: Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Stir together sugar and lemon zest in small bowl until combined and sugar is moistened. Stir in almonds; set aside.
  2. FOR THE CAKE: Spray 10-inch tube pan with nonstick cooking spray. Whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together in medium bowl; set aside. In stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, beat butter, 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar, and lemon zest at medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes, scraping down sides and bottom of bowl with rubber spatula. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition, about 20 seconds, and scraping down beater and sides of bowl as necessary. Add 4 teaspoons vanilla and mix to combine. Reduce speed to low and add one-third flour mixture, followed by half of sour cream, mixing until incorporated after each addition, 5 to 10 seconds. Repeat, using half of remaining flour mixture and all of remaining sour cream. Scrape bowl and add remaining flour mixture; mix at low speed until batter is thoroughly combined, about 10 seconds. Remove bowl from mixer and fold batter once or twice with rubber spatula to incorporate any remaining flour.
  3. Reserve 1 1/4 cups batter and set aside. Spoon remaining batter into prepared pan and smooth top. Return now-empty bowl to mixer and beat cream cheese, remaining 5 tablespoons sugar, lemon juice, and remaining teaspoon vanilla on medium speed until smooth and slightly lightened, about 1 minute. Add 1/4 cup reserved batter and mix until incorporated. Spoon cheese filling mixture evenly over batter, keeping filling about 1 inch from edges of pan; smooth top. Spread remaining cup reserved batter over filling and smooth top. With butter knife or offset spatula, gently swirl filling into batter using figure-8 motion, being careful to not drag filling to bottom or edges of pan. Firmly tap pan on counter 2 or 3 times to dislodge any bubbles. Sprinkle lemon sugar-almond topping evenly over batter and gently press into batter to adhere.
  4. Bake until top is golden and just firm, and long skewer inserted into cake comes out clean (skewer will be wet if inserted into cheese filling), 45 to 50 minutes. Remove pan from oven and firmly tap on counter 2 or 3 times (top of cake may sink slightly). Cool cake in pan on wire rack 1 hour. Gently invert cake onto rimmed baking sheet (cake will be topping-side down); remove tube pan, place wire rack on top of cake, and invert cake sugar-side up. Cool to room temperature, about 1 hours. Cut into slices and serve.
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