As someone who remembers what it was like to walk into Sutter’s, a long since closed bakery in New York’s Greenwich Village that must have gone through tons of butter in its heyday, we know that butter is what baking is all about. As much as we respect the current thinking about the health benefits of soft spread, trans-free cooking fats, we know that for baking, nothing beats the taste of butter. As so, when the recipe for Banana Breakfast Coffee Cake, with almost a cup of butter, came into our kitchen, it never occurred to us to skimp on the amount or substitute another ingredient.
And soon after the cake went into the oven, we got the same buttery smell that hit us in the face when we opened the door to Sutter’s all those years ago. Although the recipe for Banana Breakfast Coffee Cake does not fit the historical definition of a coffee cake, namely a variation of fruitcake, heavily spiced with cinnamon and cloves and made with coffee instead of milk (hence the name), it’s close enough. The recipe straddles the line between an old-fashioned banana tea bread and a banana sheet cake.
Before the batter goes into the oven, it’s covered with a generous amount of brown sugar streusel, and while it bakes, the crumbs form a sweet and crunchy topping that’s a delicious match for the tender cake. It’s the kind of cake that people would once gladly wait in line for at Sutter’s.