The Fresh Loaf

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Reproducing Sara Lee Coffee Cake

Lively's picture

Reproducing Sara Lee Coffee Cake

For the past 2 years or so I've been trying to replicate the Sara Lee Coffee Cake - the pecan one... mmmm. They've changed the recipe since I was a kid so I'm replicating from memory. I'm very very close. 

The biggest challenge has been that the old version of Sara Lee was more characteristically bread than cake; the crust was bread like the crumb more cake like. I believe I have that part figured out, but there is a key flavor missing. It's the yeast. My crumb and crust are exactly as I want it, but I need a slightly more yeasty flavor and I am not talking about the mature flavor of well risen bread, but that young slightly under cooked bread kind of flavor. 

I'm using 2 tsp of standard yeast (not instant), I hesitate to use more since the texture is perfect... any suggestions?

clazar123's picture

I believe the elusive flavor you are looking for can only be gotten by using a preferment. I make a preferment for some of my recipes by taking 1 c flour and 1 c water (I have used milk, also) and mixing these in a covered plastic container that has some room for rise. Add a pinch of yeast (I use a natural levain but instant yeast works fine for this) and let sit on the counter for 4-12 hours. If it is close to 80 or warmer in the kitchen you can make this and place it in the refrigerator overnight,also. You are not using this to leaven the bread but as a flavorant so add the usual amount of yeast. 

You can use your current recipe. Just take a small amount of the premeasured flour and liquid from the recipe  to make the preferment. That way you are not having to reinvent the recipe. 

Sounds delicious and I hope you will share your results.

Lively's picture

I shall try that... thank you!

And yes, I will share the recipe! The dough is close enough that's it's time to figure out how to do the actual coffee cake - I've been making it as a loaf of bread to my children's delight. :) I made one today and the filling leaked... brown sugar, butter and cinnamon. It was toffee bread ;) I spooned it on top and let it harden on the crust - it was interesting lol


dwsmith98's picture

Hi Ms. Lively, enjoyed reading your post from 2013. I also was a huge fan of Sara Lee's original Pecan Coffee Cake. But your last post kinda left me hanging:) Did the suggested preferment modification work - or did you devise a better way to get that original Sara Lee coffee cake flavor? And if you don't mind...would you share your final recipe? Thank you!!!

prncplman's picture

Did the Sara Lee coffeecake recipe by Lively ever get published?