Sweet And Crumby

Baking, a Love Story

Food Bloggers Unite and A Resplendent Chocolate Chip Yeasted Coffee Cake


“Are you self-hosted? How do you deal with lighting issues? Have you had your blog custom designed? I get my cool plates for food staging from thrift shops around my house for $1!” Although my fellow L.A. bloggers and I were there at lunch to discuss the upcoming bake sale for the Great American Bake Sale for Share Our Strength, we all had pressing issues on our minds.

Issues that our friends and family probably just can’t relate to and bores them to tears. Issues, that unless you are food blogger, you just couldn’t give a flying leap about. Hands down, the best topic of the luncheon was how Food Gawker hurts our feelings.

I have a long list of declined photos that have been tossed aside by these food porn sites.

Yes, my photos are often “too tight” and my composition does NOT include a toille napkin or a bamboo place mat with an icy glass of lemonade next to it, and I don’t own a light box, but how do so many people know how to execute such professional looking food styling or take such beautifully lit pictures? That boggles my mind even after reading photos books and taking a class.  Food photography was a popular topic at our table.

We all longed for better traffic and picked each other’s brains for the best referral sites; the most popular being Pinterest lately. Stumble Upon and Tumblr were also a discussion and it was interesting to note that others have also experienced a huge surge in traffic on obscure days for obscure posts from these sites.  Hmmm…

I now understand the huge draw of these blogger conferences sponsored by Food Buzz and the like because truly no one understands this cult phenomenon of food blogging quite like another blogger. Like a Trekkie, we have our own lingo, our favorite characters whether it’s Joy the Baker or Deb of the Smitten Kitchen or Rhee, The Pioneer Woman.   Maybe we need a hand signal or a button to wear so we can identify fellow food bloggers out in the world so we can say, “Was your post Pinned today?”  or “How about them lighting issues…what’s that about?”

Anyhow, I actually DID bake this morning, and truly this glorious, mind bending Chocolate Chip Yeasted Coffee Cake from Martha Stewart should have taken center stage here. It got served to our normal Sunday Dinner “focus group” and has been depleted hours ago. Rave reviews doesn’t even seem to touch how enamored people were with this bread. Me too. It is resplendent. Totally.

It is a time drain to make…no doubt ’bout it. But it’s SPECTACULAR! I would be remiss if I didn’t warn you that I believe it has a moderately high degree of difficulty if you are not typically a bread baker. I am not, but I do make some mean cinnamon rolls and that knowledge came in handy today. It was well worth the toil and trouble, and if you just dig in and get the job done,  you will not be disappointed. It will make you and everyone around you very happy.

Very, very happy indeed.

Chocolate Chip Yeasted Coffee Cake

Taken verbatim from Martha Stewart’s site
2 1/4 teaspoons (one 1/4-ounce envelope) active dry yeast
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons plus a pinch of granulated sugar
3/4 cup warm milk (110 degrees)
1 large egg plus 1 large egg yolk
3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for surface
Coarse salt
1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for bowl, pan, and parchment
1 large egg, lightly beaten with 1 tablespoon heavy cream, for egg wash
For the filling:
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped (1 1/4 cups)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into small pieces
For the crumb topping:
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature

Make the cake: Sprinkle yeast and a pinch of granulated sugar over milk in a medium bowl. Let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes. Whisk together remaining 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar, the egg, and yolk. Whisk into yeast mixture.Combine flour and 1/2 teaspoon salt in the bowl of a mixer. Add egg mixture. Beat on low speed until almost fully combined, about 30 seconds. Switch to the dough-hook attachment. Add butter. Beat until smooth, soft, and slightly sticky, about 10 minutes.

Butter a large bowl. Turn out dough onto a floured surface; knead a few times until smooth. Place in bowl, turn to coat, and cover with plastic wrap. Let stand in a warm place until doubled in volume, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

Make the filling: Combine chocolate, granulated sugar, and cinnamon. Cut in butter with a pastry cutter or rub in with your fingers until combined.Punch down dough. Transfer to a floured work surface. Let stand for 5 minutes. Roll out to an 18-inch square (about 1/8 inch thick). Brush edges with egg wash. Spread filling over dough, reserving 1/2 cup and leaving a 1-inch border. Tightly roll dough like a jelly roll. Pinch seam to seal, and fold in half to bring ends together to form a U. Twist 2 or 3 times to “braid.” Butter a 5-by-10-inch loaf pan, and line with parchment, leaving 1-inch overhangs; butter parchment. Transfer dough to pan. Brush top with egg wash.

Make the crumb topping: Combine confectioners’ sugar, flour, and butter. Sprinkle topping and reserved 1/2 cup filling over cake. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Drape plastic wrap over dough. Let stand in a warm place until risen by half, 20 to 30 minutes. Remove plastic wrap, and bake, rotating halfway through, until golden, about 55 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees. Bake until deeply golden, 15 to 20 minutes more (cover with foil if top gets too dark). Transfer pan to a wire rack. Let cake cool.

82 thoughts on “Food Bloggers Unite and A Resplendent Chocolate Chip Yeasted Coffee Cake

  1. Hmmm.. well, I think that food blogging is wonderful, because it’s so much more about the people than the food. Well.. the food is pretty darn awesome though too. And then there’s the stories that go with, those are pretty cool to read.. so I think Food Gawker is just a Pinterest Wannabe.. I gave up after two unsuccessful attempts to jump through their hoops. I figured it wasn’t was my blog was about anyway!! (she says sticking her tongue out at Goodgawker).
    Love this bread today.. I’m a novice, so I may just watch your blog for these recipes:)

    • Your food styling and photography Smidge is some of the best on the web if you ask me. I would think your photos are accepted every time. I think you are no novice to baking and therefore this bread would be fairly easy for you…just a bit time consuming for anyone.

      • I will have to give it a try.. I do have days where I just love devoting the time to a beautiful recipe like this! I put on my great music and it’s almost like baking yoga..:)

  2. That coffee cake has be drooling, Geni! I want some … yesterday! I don;t know about wearing badges identifying ourselves to the “others.” I think that the decoder ring and secret handshake are enough. Badges might be over-kill.

  3. You always enlighten me about something that I knew nothing of – like a food blogger bake sale!

  4. I’d truly love to call in for coffee and a piece of your coffee cake! Looks delcious!

  5. So delicious… I added to my recipe notes… Thank you dear Geni, you are amazing… Have a nice week with my love, nia

  6. Food blogging community is the best 😀
    Best of luck for the bake sale!
    Not that you will need it judging by this delicious bread 🙂

    Choc Chip Uru

  7. Loved your blog. Yes, I too struggle with getting the lighting just right when photographing my cakes. I make wedding and birthday cakes so I have sent photos off to magazines with no success too. It is very frustrating when the cakes they choose to feature are, quite frankly, pants!

    This cake looks gorgeous and is beautifully photographed! Can’t wait to make it!

    • My husband ordered me a fairly cheap lighting “thingy” on Amazon that has really helped. Not that you can tell from the photos today. I was lazy and didn’t get it out. I am a bad blogger sometimes and just want the photos done and posted.

  8. I started to do that as well getting plates at thrift shops. I do also have issues with lighting specially this time its autumn and sunlight is out by 6pm, that’s why during summer I cook a lot and I take a lot of pictures then save them so I can post during winters.

    • I can’t wait to start looking around here in the thrift shops. I really had never thought of that and what a fantastic idea of hers.I am in awe that you actually have photos saved for posts. I feel like I can hardly keep up as is.

  9. Hmm, guess I am a bit shy when it comes to these things and don’t really enter anything! I am always so scarred of criticism – I can handle it if it is constructive but so often people seem to be nasty!
    I would love to discuss it further with you over a cuppa and a slice of this delectable cake.
    🙂 Mandy

    • It is tough to get reject after reject. But when one DOES get posted, I have a little party in front of my computer with me jumping up and down screaming. The traffic surges up intensely on those days and I seem to get a pretty decent amount of referrals for days, weeks and months to come.

  10. Oh, I’m so jealous, damn me and my geographical isolation! More and more I hear about food blogging conferences and the live and I REALLY, REALLY want to do. I think you hit the nail on the head Geni when you say that dear as they may be, friends and family stuggle to hear us bloggers talk about food photography, referral sites and ‘perfect’ recipes quite as much as we (meaning ‘I’) would like to talk about it. Sigh. Ah for the day I can come around for a piece of this cake and a good natter about lighting. 🙂

  11. I’m so jealous of you for getting to go to such an event! 🙂 How does one find out about these things?

  12. I’ve always wanted to attend a food blogging conference but they are never in my area. I would have to make it like a mini vacation to make it worth my while and just never worked out that way. I have no clue when it comes to food photography, I know it shows in my photo’s. I did try a few times to submit my photo’s to Food Gawker, of course my photo’s were declined. Doesn’t bother me b/c the purpose of my blog, to demonstrate to my clients that eating healthy is easy and affordable. I love the bloggging community!
    I decided last minute to host a bake sale in my area, hoping I can pull it off and make lot’s of money for the Great American Bake Sale!

    • You want to hear the crazy thing, there was a conference right here in L.A. and I still didn’t want to spend the money to go. It was like $400 for the weekend just to attend and I did really want to spend my money that way. Good luck with the Bake Sale Lisa! 🙂

  13. I feel you. I too lack a light box and tricks o’ the trade to make the kinds of beautiful food photos that I find myself drooling over on other sites. But alas, I try. I agree though, there are lots of sites out there with less-than-stellar photos getting lots of attention, and that makes me kind of sad. Love your photos though – keep up the good work, and good luck with the bake sale!

  14. You’ve basically summed up everything i talk about every time I hang out with other bloggers! It’s so funny how we all have the same concerns and gripes and foodie favorites. It’s also why I love hanging out with other bloggers so much…no one understands my inner psyche like they do! This coffee cake looks amazing. But do you think I can just call it bread and then smother it with peanut butter and ahve it for lunch? Cause that sounds ideal.

  15. This looks amazing. I’ve wanted to try a yeasted coffee cake for a while now, so consider yourself pinned. 😉

    A good friend of mine and I both started our blogs around the same time last year. For months, our conversation was nothing but, food and dishes and linens and what fun things we might have found at a thrift store. I ADORE second hand shopping for dishes. Luckily, my “blog dishes” cupbooard is bursting at this point, so I’ve relaxed a good bit with that particular hunt.

    Lighting? I’m completely clueless over here. I don’t even fuss with it much anymore. Like you, I typically just want the photo and click it quick, so we can eat. I stick the plate under the window and cross my fingers.

    Foodgawker? Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha. I sooooo don’t play that game anymore. I might occasionally (maybe once every 2-3 months) decide to submit something because I really like the picture, but I think I just do that so that I can remember what it feels like to be ingnored. (Admittedly, it is FUN when your pics are accepted though!) I’m just WAY too lazy to set up a great table or the perfect matching linens/dishes/lighting/background in order to take the shot.

    Ok, enough early morning ramblings from me! Go have an awesome day, girl.

    • Thanks for Pinning me Mary. I wish I had a friend around here who blogged. People always look at me like I’m crazy IF I ever tell them I have a blog. I really got tired of the, “I wish I had time to bake…” Somehow I felt guilty for doing what I love. Everyone spends their time in different ways…some the T.V….others Face Book…me…I blog.

  16. Morning Geni! I usually read your blog from my email, so probably have never comments, but your post motivated me to click that comment button.

    So funny I pulled up my email and get to post right after “my friend who blogs”. hehe I am the “good friend that started my blog about the same time”. We are very blessed to have each other. My husband has started taking a roll in our blog, photo and design. He does a great job. We are very fortunate to get put on Foodgawker more times than we are denied. However that is and was not always the case. Tastespotting… A whole ‘nother story. I think they would turn down their own mother with a photo taken by Ansel Adams (ok, he would never do food photos, but you get the point).

    We use natural lighting, a good camera and try to take shots that look natural. If you take a photo of barbeque, placing it in a scene of fine china might look unnatural. Does that make sense?

    Your coffee cake looks divine and I am so making this!

    • I am so glad you commented today. Your blog always blows me away with the photography. I need to up my game. My husband also takes photos for my as well, and is a graphic artist but does not know any coding which is disappointing since I would love for him to be able to design my blog. If you know of anyone who codes that wants a short-time gig, let me know. I would happily pay someone to code…depending on the asking price I guess. Thanks for the photo tips. Take care and have a great week!

  17. Oh! The woes of us Food Bloggers. Seriously, how do they manage to click such beautiful pics? I am fuzzy brained and hugry like an elephant after a stroll throw Food Gawker.

  18. It was such a pleasure meeting you yesterday. And I seriously LOVED your post. You couldn’t summarize our lunch better. These issues and our frustration/aggravation would only be understood by foodies alike. It was so nice to get some things off my chest, like my hatred towards foodgawker 🙂

    And your post is not a mess at all. It’s a gorgeous yeasted bread, and I commend you for taking the time to play with yeast. Yeast terrifies me!

  19. Completely different than the coffeecake I make, yet totally awesome! 🙂

  20. haha LOVE it! Also, your coffee cake looks fabulous, I’ll have to try it soon 🙂

  21. So fun to be able to meet up with other food bloggers – I wish I lived closer!! Yeah, I think we have topics and things to talk about that no one else would get, for sure. 🙂 Your coffeecake makes me want to swoon, it looks so good. And I love that it’s a bread-like one, right up my alley!

    • You would knock this coffee cake out of the park Courtney and probably make the swirls prettier than I did. I don’t know where those swirls went on mine but Martha’s is perfect if you go to that site and see how it should turn out.

  22. Oh yes, our own language and single minded focus. A friend and I were shopping the other day in an antique store, things she would say, “oh, this would look great in the entry or on the wall.” This I would say, “oh, look at this old knife (or plate, napkin, glass, cup, ect.) I can use this for staging.” It is a little weird, but my friends and family still love me. 🙂

    Great post, lovely coffee cake too.

  23. I love the idea of a signal we food bloggers can have for each other. I realized an awesome one lived right around the corner! Imagine if I’d never found her, I couldn’t stalk her for her baked goods. 🙂 A funny coincidence – I’m hoping to have a real bake sale on the 28th! Had no idea there was a food blogger one that day.

    • Who lives near you? Now you have me curious. Have fun at your bake sale! If you start the signal, please photograph yourself doing it and email it to me, then I can do the same and we can start a revolution. It made me think of the Beatles’ song. Puts a smile on my face.

  24. It’s so true! Just the other day I had hundreds and hundreds of hits off of stumble upon. I didn’t even know that could happen! I learn something new about food bogging every day. I used to try to get pictures up on tastespotting, but it became so disheartening, that I’ve just plain given up!! They don’t need me, I don’t need them 😉

    Ahem, anyways. This looks AMAZING. Going on the list! And up on pinterest (wink wink).

  25. I’d love to hear all the answers to those questions!! I do believe we live in a world of our own! I too would love to share my blog issues, concerns, joys with “regular” family and friends, but they’d just not understand! I love your comment that this will a time drain! I’ve got a few recipes that are like that (bagels for one!) and now I will have an official Geni quote to think of everytime I make them! And this bread, btw, looks more than amazing and definitely worth the time drain!

    • Wow, I didn’t know I am already starting the “bloggers lingo”. Maybe I’ll develop a secret dictionary or something. I have still not attempted bagels since becoming a blogger. I did about 20 yrs ago and practically cried. They were so bad but now that I have alot more experience under my belt, I wouldn’t mind trying ’em again.

  26. Sounds like a great time. This bread looks amazing, by the way. I find it odd what really hits on Pinterest and what doesn’t. Wish I knew the method to its madness.

  27. Chocolate chip and cake? Oh this is my type of dessert let me tell ya lol. Geni you always have me lusting after dessert. I think I will start a new tradition.. eating dessert before dinner 🙂

  28. I can;t wait to try this! I think I might even make it for my son’s third birthday this saturday. What a fun breakfast birthday treat that would be:)

  29. I won’t be baking to participate in Chicago, but I will be buying!

  30. Great cake, It was a special surprise. The texture said bread the taste said dessert. I say yum, yummmmmmmmmmmy.

  31. I’ve still never had a photo accepted by food gawker, but I just chalk it up to the fact that I don’t like to take over-exposed and over-styled photos. I’m too stubborn to change my photography to meet someone else’s idea of art! I may not get very much traffic but I enjoy what I create, and that’s what really matters, right? 🙂 This cake looks amazing, and not too intimidating at all!

    • I agree 100% but it still makes me annoyed sometimes. Yeah, I am just not very good at food staging. And, like you, I kind of like just focusing on my food. That being said, I am usually very happy if any get accepted. All of the ones that have been accepted are my husband’s photos. I take most of the photos here, but the ones he takes are way better. I am waiting for the day that one of my own gets accepted. Oh, sweet day. How ARE YOU? Take care.

  32. You have seriously taken coffee cake to a new level for me!!

  33. Oh Geni…your yeasted chocolate coffee cake looks great with the chocolate chips in it…I am sure that my husband will like this 🙂 You will understand me once you visit me 😉
    As for the pictures…most of the time I just take the pictures like you and then when I am done I remember that I should have used this of that to make them nice…
    I wish I could make it to the Bake Sale…hopefully at the next event 🙂

  34. I loved reading your post Geni, the self hosting issue has been on my mind for a while.I wish I lived in a place closer to the blogging conventions. it would be so much fun to actually meet some of the wonderful food bloggers out there. I totally understand what you mean about friends and family not getting it. The other day we were shopping and I was looking for spoons to use in my pictures and my husband “for the one millionth time” told me I was crazy lol

    As for the food photography, you should see how many pictures I have regected from food gawker, I’ve actually given up on tastespotting lol.
    I get frustrated with them too and give up submitting all together for weeks at a time but then the stats tempt me to try again lol

    I read in one of the comments that you would like to change the design of your blog, I would be glad to help, I am no professional but I am really good with photoshop and I can design you a header and have many backgrounds and scraps. If there is anything I can help with, please let me know

  35. I’ve never made a yeasted cake before! This looks great! I’d love to try it to see and taste its textures! Was never a fan of coffee but for some reason coffee flavours go very well with baked goods!

  36. Food blogging is a part of a whole different world. I am a novice to all the nuances of the trade but really enjoy getting to know alike minded people. Geni, your photos are very professional and your coffee cake looks like it would go really good with my morning coffee.

    • Thank you fro the photo compliments. The ones that are really good on my blog, are always taken by my husband. He has a much better knack for food photography than I do, but I am working on my skills or lack there of.

  37. How cool that you have a group of bloggers locally that you can get together with! Sounds like a really fun time! And that bread is so delicious looking! I bookmarked it, and when I’m feeling up to a challenging yet rewarding recipe, I will definitely give this a try! Yummy!!!

  38. I’m out then. Definitely not a good bread baker. LOL. (Well that and it has chocolate.) 😉 The kids would no doubt devour this though. I need to send them over to visit you someday. And couldn’t agree more with you on all of your commentary – it is a little club and we can all relate in our own way. And oh yes, for me it’s Tastespotting that hurts my feelings. LOL. 😉

  39. I’m so bummed I missed the lunch this weekend–sounds like you guys had a nice time with some great conversation! Everything you mentioned has been something I’ve thought about/had an issue with, etc. Food bloggers really do have their own lingo…some people will just never understand! I’m with Kristy, Tastespotting hurts my feelings too haha.

  40. I’ve got to find a food blogger group out here on the east coast. It’s tough to not feel the rejection. A few times I’ve been able to get photos in after they’ve been originally rejected by taking their comments as advice and making adjustments then resubmitting. But that’s only been on Foodgawker. I love Pinterest though!

  41. A gorgeous yeast coffee cake!

  42. This bread looks AMAZING!!! Food porn is HAWT!!! Ow Ow!!! 😉

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