Preheat your oven to 350°.
Cake pan: 9″ round, 9″ square, 9×12″ rectangle, two loaf pans, or equivalent.
Butter the inside of the cake pan.
- 1/2 cup butter (1 stick, at room temperature)
- 1 cup sugar
Combine the butter and sugar and beat until creamy. (Use a stand mixer if you have one, or an electric mixer; in a pinch a manual whisk would do the trick. I recently whipped up a batch in our food processor, which isn’t exactly a best practice, but it worked.)
- 1 tsp vanilla extract, or cut open half of a vanilla bean and scrape out its insides (optional)
If you’re using vanilla, add it to the mix.
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup sour cream (or in a pinch, 1 cup of heavy cream and 1 Tbsp lemon juice)
Add the eggs to the mixer and stir to combine, then add the sour cream.
- 1 1/2 cups flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
Sift or stir dry ingredients together, then fold dry ingredients into the batter and stir just long enough to combine.
Transfer into the cake pan. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 40 minutes. (Time will be on the higher side if you’re using a deep 9″ round pan, or on the shorter side if you’re using a shallow 9×13″ rectangle.)
Blueberry Lemon Cake: Toss 1-2 cups of fresh blueberries with the zest of a lemon, a Tbsp or two of lemon juice, and two Tbsp of sugar. Pour half of the batter into the pan, then half of this mixture, then repeat the layers.
Peach Cake: Toss 3 ripe peaches, peeled, pitted, and sliced, with 1/3 cup sugar, and 1 tsp cinnamon. Pour half of the batter into the pan, then half of this mixture, then repeat the layers.
Apple Cake: Toss 2 fresh apples (choose a crisp baking apple like Granny Smith, Fuji, or Honeycrisp), peeled, cored, and chopped or grated (about 1-2 cups), with 1/4 cup sugar and 1 tsp cinnamon. Pour half of the batter into the pan, then half of this mixture, then repeat the layers.
Lemon Cake: Add 1-2 Tbsp lemon juice and the zest of a lemon to the batter. After the cake is baked, combine 1/4 cup melted butter (half a stick), 1/4 cup confectioner’s sugar, and 2 Tbsp lemon juice, then pour it over the still-warm cake. (If the top crust is very smooth, you might have to stab it or poke holes in it to allow the glaze to soak in.)
Banana Cake: Mash three ripe bananas and add to the batter along with the sour cream.
Pecan Coffee Cake: Mix 2/3 cup of chopped pecans, 1/3 cup brown sugar, and 1 tsp of cinnamon. Pour half of the batter into the pan, then half of this mixture, then repeat the layers.
Streusel Coffee Cake: Mix 1/2 cup flour, 1/3 cup brown sugar, 3 Tbsp cold butter, and 1 tsp of cinnamon, then cut together with a pastry cutter or the tines of a fork. Pour half of the batter into the pan, then half of this mixture, then repeat the layers.
This cake is lovely as-is, or served with a scoop of ice cream, but you can further fancy it up with a glaze.
- 1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar
- 2 Tbsp of milk — or 2 Tbsp heavy cream — or 1 Tbsp melted butter and 1 Tbsp milk — or 4 Tbsp sour cream
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract or seeds from a quarter of a vanilla bean (optional).
Stir glaze ingredients together. You might need to add more dairy to achieve the desired texture, so start with a bit less than the recommended amount and mix in some more, one tsp at a time, until you have a thick but pourable result.
Allow cake to cool for at least 20 minutes before drizzling the glaze over it, then give the glaze some additional time to set before serving.