There were many responses to my previous post about cookie science. Apparently I’m not the only person who finds this brand of pop science somewhat irritating. In today’s post I ran my own little “science” test.
I have several sour cream coffeecake recipes, some that are quite similar to each other. I focused on those and compared the recipes. They all have the same ingredients – butter, sugar, eggs, flour, etc. – but the amounts are different; sometimes slightly different and sometimes very different. Although the batter yields are all the same, some start with a pound of butter while some use only one-quarter pound. Leaveners are different, sugar is different, etc. The one constant is that the results are all tender with the texture I expect to find in a coffeecake. Is there anything I can learn without running a real scientific test?
I started with my favorite recipe, below, and baked the recipe twice for a side by side test. Cake A was baked exactly as written. Cake B had several changes and substitutions such as part sour cream and part yogurt. While Cake A had exact flour, I was sloppy with the flour measurement for Cake B and that batter came out too thick. I then poured in amaretto without measuring. Also with Cake B, I stirred in the salt after everything was mixed. (Sorry, accidental part of the planned experiment.)
What can I conclude from this test? Both cakes came out great and I have written results. But I didn’t learn anything useful that I could state as a fact, since any conclusions would be based on a one-time test. Maybe if I ran it exactly the same way multiple times (using the same brand ingredients, same mix times, bake times, and process, etc.) I would have results to compare and conclusions could be reached. But without real controls it’s impossible to come up with a reliable evaluation.
Conclusion #1: It’s hard to screw up sour cream coffeecake.
Conclusion #2: If you are a scientist and understand how to conduct legitimate scientific experiments, great. But if you’re a foodie, enjoy your fabulous coffeecake and leave science to professionals.
Sour Cream Coffeecake
- ½ cup brown sugar
- 1 cup chopped nuts
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1 cup butter
- 2 cups sugar
- 4 large eggs
- 2 cups sour cream
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- 2 tablespoons liquor
- 4 cups all-purpose flour (18 oz.)
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 cups fresh chopped fruit or berries, optional
1. Heat oven to 350º F. Grease 9×13 pan, or (2) 9” pans, or any variation of smaller pans.
2. If using filling, in small bowl, mix all filling ingredients and set aside.
3. In large bowl, beat butter and sugar, then beat in eggs, sour cream, vanilla, and any liquor. Mix in flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Mix in fruit, if using.
4. For a fruited coffeecake, spread batter in pans. If you prefer using filling, spread ⅓ of plain batter (about 2 cups) in pan; sprinkle with ⅓ of the filling. Repeat until batter is used.
6. Bake 45-60 minutes (depending upon size of pans) or until toothpick inserted near center comes out clean. Cool and sprinkle cakes with confectioners’ sugar.
Home-Based Baking at its Best! This recipe works well with fresh, seasonal fruit.