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February 21, 1985|BARBARA HANSEN | Times Staff Writer

Breakfast can be a delightful meal, a cheerful and cozy introduction to the day. But for many it is likely to be a hastily assembled snack dashed off en route to the office, school or other destination.

On the rare occasion when time is available, try lifting breakfast out of the ordinary. An easy way to do that is to serve homemade coffeecake. In this field of baking, simple recipes often produce spectacular results. As evidence, three of the recipes given here have earned a reputation for two California restaurants, one in the North, one in the South. Yet all are easy enough for novice bakers.

A big seller at the Bakery Cafe in South Pasadena is a sour cream coffeecake topped with brown sugar and chopped walnuts. The slices come to the table lightly warmed with a pat of butter melting over the top. "It's an old recipe that's a standby," said Anne Williams, a representative of the California Banquet Corp., which owns the restaurant.

Williams said that the cake has been served at the Bakery Cafe since its opening in 1970. "The flavor seems to appeal to the great majority of people," she commented. Tinted a cheery yellow, the coffeecake stores and freezes well. In keeping with the bakery theme of the restaurant, it is sold uncut to take home as well as in slices to eat on the premises.

The Cafe Beaujolais in Mendocino is renowned for its homey, lavish breakfasts. Here chef-owner Margaret Fox turns out omelets, waffles and baked goods so tempting that customers drive long distances to taste them.

One of the lures is Fox's Buttermilk-Cinnamon Coffeecake, an old fashioned breakfast cake with a brown sugar, cinnamon and almond topping. For convenience, Fox suggests preparing the spicy topping and part of the batter the night before, then adding the liquids and leavening in the morning. That way, the cake can be ready for breakfast with a minimum of work.

Another Fox specialty is a Cocoa Coffeecake with the unexpected addition of instant coffee powder and dried apricots. These ingredients are part of a cocoa filling that is layered with the batter. Like her buttermilk cake, this coffeecake is baked in a rectangular pan, making it easy to cut into squares for serving.

Fox's Cocoa Coffeecake is one example of the growing popularity of chocolate in baked goods for breakfast. This trend inspired the inclusion of recipes for two other chocolate coffeecakes. One has an inner layer and topping of streusel made with miniature chocolate chips. After the cake is baked, more chips are sprinkled over the top. Orange juice and peel, added to the batter, make an interesting combination with the chocolate.

The other recipe produces a delicate, almond-coated cake of brioche dough layered with dark filling. The filling includes cocoa, almond paste and a dash of almond extract to enhance the nut flavor.

Still another idea for breakfast is a coffeecake version of sticky buns. The buns are so named because they are baked in a pan lined with a sugar mixture that produces a syrupy glaze. In this variation, the rolls are piled in a tube pan to produce a sticky form of monkey bread. Each ball of dough is coated with butter and honey, then rolled in sugar and cinnamon. The sugar melts and caramelizes as the coffeecake bakes. And the chopped pecans that line the bottom of the pan mix with the melted sugar to form an attractive topping when the cake is turned out for serving.


1 1/3 cups sugar

3 1/2 tablespoons butter

7 tablespoons margarine

2 eggs

3/4 teaspoon vanilla

1/4 teaspoon brandy flavoring

1/8 teaspoon yellow food color

7 tablespoons sour cream

1 1/3 cups flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

Brown Sugar Topping

Cream sugar, butter and margarine thoroughly. Gradually beat in eggs. Add vanilla, brandy flavoring and yellow food color. Stir in sour cream, then add flour and baking powder and mix. Turn into greased deep 8-inch round cake pan. Distribute Brown Sugar Topping evenly over batter. Bake at 325 degrees 1 hour 15 minutes. Makes 8 servings.

Brown Sugar Topping

2/3 cup brown sugar, packed

1 tablespoon plus 2 1/4 teaspoons margarine

3 1/2 tablespoons flour

1/3 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 cup chopped walnuts

Cream sugar and margarine. Add flour and cinnamon. Blend with hands to form small crumbles. Add walnuts.


2 1/4 cups flour

1 cup brown sugar, packed

3/4 cup granulated sugar

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

3/4 cup corn oil

1 cup sliced almonds

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 egg

1 cup buttermilk

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