This is a cake I would wake up to periodically as a kid. It will send hypnotic aroma waves through the whole house, waking everyone up...As far as the process of making this cake goes, I really like to begin by making the topping. Combining the flavors that will top the cake provides motive to hurry and bake the cake and get to the eating part!
For the topping: Prepare a baking sheet fitted with parchment paper. In a medium bowl, combine the nuts, flour, sugars, cinnamon and salt. Stir to blend. Stir in the butter. The topping should form sandy clumps. Sprinkle the topping onto the baking sheet to break it up into smaller clumps. Refrigerate.
For the coffee cake: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Use butter to thoroughly grease the bottom and sides of a 13-by-9-inch baking pan. Set aside.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, "cream" the butter and sugar together until light yellow and smooth, 5 to 8 minutes. Alternatively, this can be done with an electric hand mixer. Add the eggs, one by one, and beat until thoroughly integrated.
Remove the topping from the refrigerator so it has a few minutes to come to room temperature before baking. Meanwhile, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk the sour cream until smooth. Turn the mixer on low and alternate adding some of the flour mixture with some of the sour cream. Add the lemon zest. When all has been mixed, give the sides and the bottom of the bowl a scrape and blend to make sure the batter is thoroughly integrated.
Transfer the batter to the greased baking pan and "tap" it lightly on the sides so it falls evenly in the pan and removes any air bubbles. Liberally sprinkle the cake with all of the topping. Take care to cover the whole top. Place the pan in the center of the oven and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 22 to 30 minutes. Allow to cool for 30 minutes before serving.
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