Like so many of my peers, Jewish summer camp played an integral role in my Jewish identity. It’s where I developed my appreciation for Israeli dancing, a deep respect for my surroundings in nature, and not to be outdone, my love of breakfast. Every Saturday morning, before all the campers joined for services, we’d convene in the dining hall for a plentiful feast of crumbly and perfectly spiced coffee cake. It wasn’t elaborate, but it sure was special, and it was certainly on the list of things I looked forward to year after year as I awaited summer’s arrival. If I ever longed for a little taste of home while I was at camp, I just had to wait until the end of the week, since the combination of cinnamon and sugar in the crumb topping would remind anyone of home. Because of this experience and because it only gets better the day after it is baked, to me, coffee cake is synonymous with Shabbat morning, summer vacation or not.
Of course, as an adult, summer camp is no longer really in the cards for me anymore. These days, when we get through hiking the trails of all the nearby national forests, my husband and I long for a more tropical getaway. Since our next vacation seems light years away, I came up with a recipe inspired by my Cuban heritage that will be sure to satisfy until we can get ourselves to the nearest island.
With its taste of the tropics, my Pineapple Coconut Coffee Cake hits the spot for a Shabbat morning treat. It has the cinnamon and sugar that I always remember from my camp days, but its layer of crushed pineapple adds a mild zing and just the touch needed to keep this cake moist for days. The coconut added to the crumb layer, suggested by my friend Dolly, acts as a tropical kiss and adds a nice crunch.
Next time you’re in the mood for a reminder of Shabbat mornings at camp, or you’re longing for a quick getaway, try a bite of this coffee cake, and you won’t be disappointed.
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For the cake batter:
2 cups all-purpose OR cake flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp table salt (not kosher salt)
½ cup unsalted butter, softened
½ cup granulated sugar
½ cup brown sugar
1 cup sour cream
1½ tsp pure vanilla extract
1 20 oz can of crushed pineapple, well-drained, and juice reserved
For the crumb topping
¼ cup granulated sugar
¼ cup brown sugar
½ cup grated coconut
½ cup all-purpose flour
¾ tsp ground cinnamon
⅛ tsp salt
¼ tsp nutmeg
¼ cup unsalted butter, softened
For the glaze:
3 oz cream cheese, softened
⅔ cup confectioners’ sugar
3-4 Tbsp. of the reserved pineapple juice
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9-inch tube pan, and line with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
In a separate bowl, cream together the butter and the sugar. Add the eggs, one by one, and mix well. Stir in the sour cream and vanilla extract.
Combine the dry mixture into the wet mixture in three batches, and mix only until incorporated, and set aside.
Meanwhile, combine all the ingredients of the crumb topping, and cut in the butter using a fork or a pastry cutter. Set aside.
In your greased tube pan, spoon in half of the batter, and use the back of the spoon to even the layer. Sprinkle on half of the crumb topping in an even layer. Spoon the drained pineapple over the crumb layer. Top with second half of cake batter, and spread to even the layer. Add the remaining crumb topping, and bake for 45-50 minutes.
Once the cake is golden brown, remove from oven, and cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes. After the initial 10-minute cooling time, remove the cake from the pan, and cool the rest of the way.
Once cooled, glaze the cake by whisking together all the glaze ingredients, and using the prongs of a fork to drizzle over the cake. Let the glaze set before slicing.
Pronounced: shuh-BAHT or shah-BAHT, Origin: Hebrew, the Sabbath, from sundown Friday to sundown Saturday.