Taste of Shabbat
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Recipe courtesy of Caroline Schiff

Shabbat Coffee Cake with Red Wine-Soaked Prunes

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  • Level: Easy
  • Total: 3 hr 15 min (includes cooling time)
  • Active: 1 hr
  • Yield: 12 servings
Growing up, my favorite thing about Shabbat was the massive platters of cookies, pastries and cakes that would be put out at synagogue after the Friday evening service for the Oneg Shabbat. Oneg Shabbat means the joy of Shabbat. It's all about celebrating and, simply put, happiness; as a child (and now adult) with an insatiable sweet tooth, this spread of sweets was absolutely pure joy and happiness for me. I'd race out of the sanctuary the moment services ended and into the reception room, being one of the first to grab a paper plate and pile it high with one of each. I'd gravitate towards anything with jam, chocolate, powdered sugar and, of course, the little squares of coffee cake, each in its own little paper cup, with a thick layer of streusel on top. As is common in Jewish baking, there was always an abundance of prune-filled cookies and cakes, which at the time I avoided, but as an adult I've come to adore. They have a deep sweetness and a satisfying jammy quality, making them an ideal filling for all kinds of baked goods. In my nostalgic coffee cake, they're first cooked in red wine, another important symbol of Shabbat, and then used to create a jammy ribbon through the middle, revealed with the first slice. Enjoy this coffee cake anytime you need something sweet, nostalgic and joyful, for Shabbat, or not. I love the leftovers with a strong cup of coffee for an indulgent weekend breakfast.



Streusel Topping:



Special equipment:
a 9-inch springform pan
  1. For the prunes: In a small pot, combine the prunes, granulated sugar, wine and cinnamon stick if using. Bring it to a simmer over medium heat. Reduce the heat to low and cook, stirring occasionally, until the wine reduces by about a quarter and the mixture becomes syrupy, 15 to 20 minutes. Turn off the heat and let the prunes cool to room temperature. Transfer to a container, cover and refrigerate until you’re ready to make the cake. (You can do this up to a week ahead of time and keep them chilled until ready to use.)
  2. For the streusel topping: Combine the flour, dark brown sugar, cinnamon and salt in a mixing bowl. Break up any lumps of sugar with your hands, and then mix to evenly distribute all the ingredients. Add the melted butter and vanilla, and with a fork, gently mix the mixture together until large crumbles form. Use your hands and continue to gently mix until the topping is in crumbled bits ranging in size from a small marble to a lentil. Cover and place the streusel in the refrigerator to chill while you mix the cake.
  3. For the cake: Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F. Line a 9-inch springform pan with a circle of parchment paper and then butter the bottom and sides with 1 tablespoon of the softened butter. Set aside.
  4. In a mixing bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and baking soda. Mix in the salt and set aside.
  5. In another mixing bowl, cream together the remaining 7 tablespoons of butter with the granulated sugar, vanilla extract and vanilla seeds. I like to do this with a large, stiff spatula, or a wooden spoon, beating the mixture for 2 minutes. Add the eggs and mix to fully combine. Add the sifted dry ingredients to the butter mixture, and gently fold them together until uniform. Last, add the sour cream and gently fold it through the batter until just combined. A few streaks is ok; you don’t want to overmix it.
  6. Remove the prunes from the red wine syrup, straining off the liquid. Save the liquid for later! It’s great drizzled on fruit or ice cream. Roughly chop the prunes and set aside.
  7. Transfer half of the batter to the prepared pan, and smooth it out into an even layer with a spatula. Add the chopped prunes in an even layer and then cover with the remaining batter, smoothing it out into an even layer. Remove the streusel from the fridge and gently break up any large clusters with your hands. Top the cake with the streusel crumbles in an even layer.
  8. Bake until set and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean with just a few moist crumbs, 50 to 55 minutes.
  9. Allow the cake to cool in the pan on a heatproof surface for at least 1 hour. Release the outer ring of the springform pan, running a butter knife around the edges if the cake seems to stick in any areas. I like to leave the cake on the bottom round of the pan for easy serving.
  10. Place the coffee cake on a serving platter or cake stand and using a small, fine strainer, dust the powdered sugar all over the top of the cake. Slice and enjoy. Shabbat Shalom!

Cook’s Note

Save the syrup from the prunes — it’s delicious! You can make the streusel the day before, cover and refrigerate until you’re ready to top the cake.