The Nutty Ingredient Ina Garten Adds To Coffee Cake

When Ina Garten bought a little food store in the Hamptons in 1978, she had every intention of changing the name, according to Insider. In fact, Garten thought the name was terrible. She asked, "Who calls a food store Barefoot Contessa?" Within about a month of owning the store, though, Ina's tune had changed. She said, "I actually liked the name because it's about being elegant and earthy. It would have been a terrible thing to change it."

How right Garten was. She recently celebrated 20 years of "Barefoot Contessa" on Food Network, and her wisdom and impeccable food instincts have made so many of us better cooks. Everything the Food Network star tackles seems to be elevated just a bit above the ordinary, and it's no surprise that her sour cream coffee cake follows suit. Coffee cake, while it may have international roots, is typically a pretty humble creation, but Ina, as always, adds something a little extra to make hers special.

Ina's nuts for coffee cake

The Barefoot Contessa's recipe for sour cream coffee cake doesn't reinvent the wheel. All Recipes points out that coffee cake typically uses ordinary ingredients that most cooks already have on hand, and that's mostly true for Garten's recipe as well. Though she does call for cake flour, along with the ubiquitous "good vanilla," the other items — butter, sour cream, baking powder and soda, cinnamon, salt, and brown sugar — are as mundane as ingredients can be.

One of the most delightful components of Garten's coffee cake recipe, though, is her streusel topping, and what's better? She gives permission to use a little shortcut! Ina uses walnuts — already chopped walnuts — for both flavor and texture in her streusel that constitutes the middle layer and the gorgeous golden brown topping for her coffee cake. Since walnuts don't typically keep as long as some other kinds of nuts, we love finding recipes like Ina's to use them up. This sour cream coffee cake is, like Ina, elegant and earthy, and would be the perfect complement to a latte or cappuccino.