Strawberry Cream Cheese Coffee Cake with Fresh Strawberries

Strawberry Cream Cheese Coffeecake

We are currently smack in the middle of the ‘Dog Days of Summer’ and I know for some that’s a period of almost dread because it’s the season of the year considered the hottest and most sultry. Where the heck did that term come from you ask? Well, the Romans referred to the dog days as diēs caniculārēs and associated the hot weather with the star Sirius. They considered Sirius to be the “Dog Star” because it is the brightest star in the constellation Canis Major (Large Dog) and also the brightest star in the night sky. Did you know the Romans sacrificed a brown dog at the beginning of the Dog Days to appease the rage of Sirius, believing that the star was the cause of the weather? Yikes…Abbie is lucky that today we just turn on the air conditioner!

Still; I can handle the heat (luckily Denver doesn’t get all that sultry) especially when I think of the things that I love this time of year. At the top of that list? Strawberries, tomatoes and corn..both fresh and in all of the wonderful dishes to be made with them; yep, makes it all worthwhile. This Strawberry Cream Cheese Coffeecake is just one great example.

I was inspired to make this cake because…well because I bought too many strawberries when I made this cake for the 4th of July! It was either use them or lose them forever (is anyone else thinking ‘Top Gun’ right about now?) Anyhoo…I spied this recipe; add my strawberry glut coinciding with the weekend and the trifecta was at play to make it happen. And it was all good. Well, most of it at least.

Oh the cake was good alright but not without incident. High altitude incident. It is a buggar and a bear and sometimes I get it just right and sometimes, with EXACTLY the same methodology that has worked elsewhere, awry happens. There is the occasional GRRR I think could be heard ’round the world but in truth I would like to believe my claim to being a baker is not about perfect results but in being able to perfectly rescue something others might think a fail. Experience, trial and error; all those help get you to a place where it’s no biggie…just, ‘Now what can I do to fix it?’

Strawberry Cream Cheese Coffee Cake with Fresh Strawberries | Creative-Culinary.com

What went wrong here? Well it’s all conjecture but what I think might have happened was that the inner circle (sounds pretty melodramatic huh?) struggled with the weight of cream cheese and strawberry jam resting on top of it. Should I have reduced the leavening more or not messed with it at all? Upped the volume on the oven temp maybe? Cooked it longer possibly? Maybe. Or not. The cake was done so it didn’t need more time; I had already increased the oven temp 25 degrees so maybe leavening was an issue. I did my typical trick of just gouging a bit out of the measuring spoon with my pinky fingernail insuring it’s just a dot that is removed; maybe I shouldn’t have removed any since I was already increasing the temperature?

The thing is I just try not to sweat it…**it happens. It’s happened before; it will happen again. Want proof? Here are a couple of other cakes with the same sad story:

One of the absolute, positive most ‘horriblest’ photos on my site but I’m willing to embarrass myself so you can see a similar depression with this Ricotta Pound Cake. Don’t those berries look like they belonged there? Uh no…but guess they do now; it was a great, if unexpected conglomeration! I always thought this one especially strange; the depression was a half inch inside the outer border; all the way around. I couldn’t get that to happen again if I wanted to!

Ricotta Pound Cake | Creative-Culinary.com

More? This Almond Cake with Raspberry Jam was made for the first ever meeting of a local group of food bloggers coming to my home for coffee and cake and getting to know each other. See how pretty it looks? What is wrong with it you say? Well, that whipped cream was my save. Try to picture this…when I split those two layers, it had sunk enough that the top layer was really just a tire; the center was completely devoid of ANYTHING…so my sleight of hand was to cover it up with whipping cream. Voila…no one knew; oh, except that I told them!

Almond Cake with Raspberry Jam

I’ve said it before and firmly believe in this truth; the real talent of a baker at altitude is not just their ability to manage a list of ingredients but it’s their ability to punt when these things happen. Funny thing is that this time around for me meant putting fresh berries down in that depression; now how do I revise this cake so I always have to do that? Seriously you need to pack up your family now and move to altitude so that this dessert sinks and you have the perfect area to pack a whole bunch of fresh, juicy strawberries. They’re at their best now during these Dog Days of Summer!
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One thing to mention? I never post my recipes with instructions for high altitude; that would appeal to a very small segment of readers so recipes are meant for ‘normal’ baking at sea level. If  you are at altitude; your revisions will depend on how high you are.

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34 Comments

  1. Is it just me or does coffee cake that includes cream cheese always have this sort of pizzaz that other cakes do not have? I don’t know what it is but I just LOVE when cream cheese is added to desserts and baked goods – so delicious. Also, I absolutely love strawberries. Great recipe!

  2. The whole ingredients of this cake seems gorgeous! Strawberry, cream , cheese and coffee I just love all of them.When they combined in a cake – it’s totally mouthwatering! I’m gonna make a large one and have it with my friends in this weekend.

  3. I did think that you’d possibly experienced a cheesecake ‘sinkage’, but it works so, so well with the beautiful plump fruit inside! I am sure that to the undiscerning eye, it just looks like you’ve created a gorgeous indent for the fruit to sit in! Great improvisation!
    The coffee cake recipe sounds so gorgeous. I’ll definitely be giving the recipe a go! Thanks for sharing. Beautiful photos xxx

    1. Every cake is a surprise…I think sometimes more so when they turn our perfect! Thank you so much for your sweet comments.

  4. LOL!! If you hadn’t said anything Barb, I’d have thought that was the way the cake was supposed to come out – it really does look perfect! Have you ever tried the cake strips? I am wondering if they would help – I’ve noticed they definitely help at sea level (no doming) so I wonder if they would work at altitude for the reverse problem? But based on the way that coffee cake looks, you probably don’t need them!!!

    1. I haven’t…and I usually make them work if I have an issue. A friend urged me to share ‘the truth’ cause it happens to the best of us!

  5. I not only enjoy making your recipes but I really love the way you write your posts! The text, the images and recipe are all delicious! Literally!

  6. Just found your blog through pinterest, and I thought: great, a Denver blogger, maybe I can get some recipes that work at altitude, since I’m in Denver too. Then I read through to the end of your post. Guess not.

    1. Except for cakes few recipes require any modifications for high altitude and at 5280 feet we’re actually just at the cusp of needing to make changes. I queried a local pastry chef about baking and he told me that ALL he does is raise the oven temp 25 degrees while also cutting back the time spent in the oven. For the most part, this works great for me; our thinner air sees baked goods rise too fast and the higher heat helps to cook them a bit quicker too so they don’t fall. Still; everything is a guesstimate; even for an experienced baker!

      My blog has a wide audience; I wouldn’t want to restrict recipes to just those that live at altitude; even if I did, it would be only for those at a mile high. Higher elevations need to make additional changes so it is sort of on us to learn what works best for our particular area.

  7. Your cake looks lovely! I love your “saves”! I once made Caribbean rice and peas and it turned out quite stodgy, I just told my guests that was Caribbean style! (will never know what they said when they left, lol!)

    1. They bought that…that Caribbean style was ‘stodgy?’ Well, you really are a great storyteller Jayne!

    1. You would know my dilemma…maybe not altitude but with GF. And yes….you find a way to make do; no other way.

  8. Every time I bake here at Denver’s altitude I am pleasantly surprised if something turns out and not all that disappointed if the result doesn’t look as intended but still tastes great. Your creation is beautiful and I am sure was delicious! Just to remind you, I am that friend who is happy to come on by to eat your “failed” cakes. Call me anytime!

    1. It’s the only way to go isn’t it. I probably did squeal when my cake for the fourth was so perfect since the insides would be on display but for this strawberry one…all that mattered was that it tasted good. And it did! Let’s just plan coffee soon, how’s that?

  9. I looked at that photo and instantly assumed you used one of those cake pans with the inset area and then turned it over for a perfect spot for additional goodness. Imagine my surprise when I read the post. If it tastes good, I always pretend it was intended.

    1. Yeah, that’s it…I did it on PURPOSE! Ah well…I’m with you. I don’t bake for the blog; I bake for family and friends and share it on the blog…warts and all!

  10. Just like your Ricotta Pound Cake, these strawberries look like they belong exactly where they are on this cake. I don’t know if I’d have the patience to bake with all the issues you have to deal with in high altitude baking. Honestly, no one can flip into recovery mode with your cakes as elegantly and as successfully as you do. This cake looks wonderful Barb. If you hadn’t of told us, we would have thought you baked the cake to look exactly as it does and we’d all be asking “How did you do that?!”

    P.S. So glad for me and my dog that we don’t live in the Roman times 🙂

    1. I know right…I’ve told Abbie all week long how lucky she is!

      I think sometimes beneficial to let folks know we are so totally human, we have snafus too and this is one fix I had for one of mine. I’ve had worse…

  11. First off; I love how it says “Take a bigger bite” instead of “Read more”, that’s totally how I felt!

    Secondly, this looks amazing!! It’s seriously one of the tastiest coffee cakes I’ve ever seen. And I normally don’t even go crazy for sponge cake desserts.. So even though it might not have turned out the way you wanted to, to me it looks perfect!

    1. Thanks Yvonne…though I wish I could alter that text for my Friday cocktail posts to read, ‘Take another sip!’

      And thank you for your kind words…we LOVED it so much we would not change a thing; just filled with strawberry flavor and who can argue with that?

  12. I love cream cheese coffee cakes. I’m going to have to try this one. Thanks! And congratulations on the brilliant save on the Almond Cake!

  13. Good job – your cake looks exactly like you meant it to be that way! I’ve never baked at altitude, but I’ve always heard it was a pain. It sounds more like one than I had realized. Thanks for the refresher on my Roman history! I actually knew that at one time, but had totally forgotten it. Didn’t know about sacrificing the dog, though. Any, great cake and entertaining post – thanks.

    1. It’s just a fact of living here and I’m probably more surprised when it comes out perfectly; like it did for that 4th of July cake. Really just another ‘oh well’ moment. But the end result was so pretty and I loved the fresh berries with it so maybe it really was meant to be…at least for ME!

  14. I would have thought that your cake was supposed to be depressed in the center to accommodate your strawberries had you not told us otherwise. It is beautiful anyway. I guess I’ll have to go out and get a copy of Top Gun and watch it again to get the strawberry reference. Maybe I’ll just make this cake then watch it. That sounds like a good excuse doesn’t it?

    1. I figured I had to share…else a flatlander will make it and have no room for fresh berries and wonder what they did wrong! Funny how frustrated I was initially but now can not imagine it without that contingent of fresh berries!

  15. I’m sure that any guest who simply closed their eyes – or better yet, wasn’t told there was a glitch due to high altitude – would never know it. I’ll bet it tasted out of this world! And not a bad little way to serve strawberries 🙂

    1. That it did…really a great tasting cake with the perfect texture. Now, how do I guarantee a repeat performance…that IS the question!

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