When Bryony Owen was a child, the smells of espresso and sweet golden syrup wafting from Grandma’s kitchen meant one thing: coffee cake, or rather, “Garney’s coffee cake,” named after her mispronunciation of “granny.”
“Whether it was a birthday, anniversary or just a Sunday dinner, this cake would be there,” Owen, now 23, said of her childhood memories of dining at her grandmother’s home in England.
When Owen and her family moved to Oregon in 2000, the recipe for Garney’s coffee cake, stained with coffee droplets and blotches of vanilla, came with them.
Over the last 13 years, Owen has made the cake so much that she knows the recipe by heart. While her grandmother is no longer living, the recipe carries on her memory.
“I think about her when I’m making it, decorating it, eating it, giving it to other people,” Owen said. “It’s like a little piece of her is always with me.”
Garney’s Coffee Cake
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 cup Lyle’s Golden Syrup (see note)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons instant espresso powder
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1-1/2 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1-1/2 sticks butter (at room temperature)
2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
3 teaspoons instant espresso powder dissolved in
3 teaspoons hot water
1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Grated chocolate or chocolate sprinkles, for garnish
To make the cake:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour an 8-inch round cake pan (or cupcake pan). Line the bottom with a round of parchment paper.
In a saucepan set over medium-low heat, combine sugar, butter, syrup and salt. Heat, stirring, until butter melts (do not boil). Remove from heat and cool. Into a medium mixing bowl, sift together the flour, espresso powder and baking powder. In a small bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk and vanilla. Whisk the cooled syrup mixture. Gently stir this mixture into the flour until combined. Pour into the prepared cake pan and bake for 30-40 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow to cool for 10 minutes in the pan before turning out onto a rack to finish cooling. Serve, dusted with powdered sugar, or frosted with buttercream.
To make the buttercream:
In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter until soft and fluffy. Gradually beat in the sugar until combined. Beat in the espresso and vanilla, and continue beating 1 more minute until fluffy.
Frost the top and sides of the cooled cake with buttercream and top with a generous pile of chocolate shavings.
— Adapted from Olive Newton, Caterham, Surrey, England