Many cakes and pastries, like cupcakes, muffins and donuts have become very popular mainstream foods in American culture. The coffee cake, on the other hand, while very American in tradition and history, is, in my opinion, egregiously overlooked as an American classic. It's one of those foods that we love to eat as a dessert but has not been subject to a culinary dessert rage-such as the cupcake has been in recent years.
I got hooked early on to coffee cakes, first to my mother's version, which she made periodically, and then to the grocery store standard-the Drake's Coffee Cakes, which are still amazing to me 40 years later (check out the power of the Drake's Coffee Cake as portrayed by Seinfeld http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4ZU05h3U2Hw). What is brilliant about the Drake's Coffee Cake is not only the taste and texture, but that they pack them two at a time, so you psychologically feel like you are satisfying a craving (they do that with their other snacked baked goods too like Ring Dings).
The term "coffee cake" is used to describe a class of cakes such as strussels, stollens, and crumb cakes (or a combination of these cakes) that usually have nuts and fruit in them. A coffee cake can also be a sponge cake actually made with coffee. In the US, they evolved in the 18th and 19th centuries from recipes for "breakfast breads" and sweet yeast breads brought over by immigrants from Europe.
Coffee cakes are simple and easy to make. I discovered this recipe a few years ago on a can of blueberry filling-I have made some variations on it. I would recommend using fresh blueberries instead of canned pie filling-the best cake I ever made used wild blueberries picked in the summer in the Catskill Mountains. I guarantee if you bake this cake, you will be forever hooked on coffee cake.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Add softened butter, sugar, eggs, sour cream, and vanilla in a large bowl and beat with an electric mixer for 2 minutes. Then add the flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon and mix by hand until combined.
Spread half the batter in the bottom of a greased 9 x13 inch pan. Top with most of the blueberries (leave a few to sprinkle on top) or entire can of blueberry pie filling and the rest of the batter.
In a small bowl, prepare topping by combining the granulated sugar, packed brown sugar and cinnamon. Sprinkle the topping on top of cake (and add the rest of the fresh blueberries). Bake for 50-60 minutes-test with knife to make sure it is cooked through.
Makes ten great slices.