Baking A Childhood Favorite: Blum’s Coffee Crunch Cake

Blum's coffee crunch cake -- it's not nearly as hard to make as you might think.

Blum’s coffee crunch cake — it’s not nearly as hard to make as you might think.

 

If you grew up way back when in San Francisco like me, no doubt you grew up obsessed with Blum’s coffee crunch cake.

This neighborhood bakery was famed for this airy two-layer cake slathered inside and out with swirls of coffee whipped cream. The piece de resistance? The shellacking of crunchy toffee pieces all over it.

It was the cake families bought for birthdays, and all manner of other celebrations. Mine certainly did. That cake was always front and center for my birthday, as well as my two brothers’.

The secret was that you had to eat as much of it as you could that very first day. Because once refrigerated overnight, the toffee pieces turned soft and soggy, and not nearly as appealing. So I cop to always cutting myself a rather gargantuan piece as a child. It’s a wonder my parents let me get away with that, let alone eating a coffee-laced product at that age, when they’d never let a brewed cup itself pass my lips.

Thank goodness they did, too, because that cake remains an iconic part of my childhood. Just the thought of it is enough to make me smile big-time.

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Teni East Kitchen — A Gem in Oakland

Chef Tiyo Shibabaw at her Teni East Kitchen.

Chef Tiyo Shibabaw at her Teni East Kitchen.

 

What’s an Ethiopia-born chef doing cooking Burmese food?

Living out a delectable dream, that’s what.

Tiyo Shibabaw, born and raised in Ethiopia where her parents run a hotel and restaurant, always knew she wanted to be in the hospitality industry.

But it wasn’t until she moved to the Bay Area that she found her calling in Southeast Asian cuisines, most notably after going to work at Burma Superstar. Although she started there as a general manager, it wasn’t long before she began apprenticing in the kitchen. She was soon tapped to open the Burma Superstar in Alameda, followed by one in Oakland.

After 10 years, she left the fold to step out on her own, opening her Teni East Kitchen in 2016 that’s named for her mother.

Textbook roti.

Textbook roti.

As she explained when I was invited in last week as a guest of her restaurant, she fell in love with the deep, complex flavors of Burmese cuisine that are multi-layered thanks to its judicious use of spices much like in Ethiopian cooking.

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The Plumed Horse’s Trifecta

Chef Peter Armellino in his element at his new Pasta Armellino.

Chef Peter Armellino in his element at his new Pasta Armellino.

 

If you only know the Plumed Horse for being the chic Michelin one-starred restaurant in downtown Saratoga, wait until you hear what it’s been up to.

It’s added not one, but two sister properties just steps away.

The Plumed Horse Collection, as it’s now known, debuts today the casual Pasta Armellino across the street. I had a chance to check it out last week at a private media event.

It officially opens today.

It officially opens today.

San Francisco graffiti artist Chris Kondo's handiwork.

San Francisco graffiti artist Chris Kondo’s handiwork.

Executive Chef Peter Armellino, who’s headed the Plumed Horse for a decade, has expanded his reach with this 60-seat eatery that’s all about home-made pastas.

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Meyer Lemons II: Sweet and Decadent

Zest, juice and slices of Meyer lemon flavor this irresistible Meyer lemon coffee cake.

Zest, juice and slices of Meyer lemon flavor this irresistible Meyer lemon coffee cake.

 

April showers bring May flowers. But last winter’s deluge of rain nearly drowned my poor little Meyer lemon tree.

Usually flush with deep green leaves and bountiful with sunny yellow lemons, it looks more like Charlie Brown’s Christmas tree right now. In fact, I managed to pick all of about four decent-sized ripe lemons this year — not nearly enough to make this spectacular “Meyer Lemon Coffee Cake” by Martha Stewart.

But lo and behold, my friend Kiki to the rescue. With her tree overflowing with lemons, she gifted me a big bag of them — plenty to make this cake that requires a load of Meyers.

Thin slices of lemon are layered and baked right into the cake, which has a batter laden with lemon zest, too. Then, a mountain of crunchy streusel goes on top — an amount nearly as deep as the cake, itself. Finally, a Meyer lemon citrus glaze is drizzled over the top.

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