Where I went to school, this place was called Hobee's. It has been nearly a quarter of a century since I was in college*, but Hobee's is still there, and is still famous for two things: Their spicy orange tea, brewed so strongly that it feels like you are drinking dark liquid cinnamon, and their coffee cake.
This is the one and only photo on the Hobee's website. They clearly know what the people want to see.
It comes to your table in what can only be called a slab. A thick square, maybe 4 inches across and a few inches high. The cake itself is rich and dense and warm, with juicy blueberries tucked in here and there. It is covered with sugary cinnamon crumb topping, and comes with a little scoop of butter right in the middle, which has begun melting into that sugary topping on its way from the kitchen. Oh my god, do I love that coffee cake. I have loved it since my very first morning at Hobee's and I will love it until the day I die.
And people know this about me. In one memorable exchange, a guy I'd been friends with for years was upset that our relationship was not going to evolve into more than that. He was very upset, actually.
Him: (after all else has failed) Well, you know what?
Him: Hobee's coffee cake is made....FROM A MIX!!!
Me: (tearing up at last) It is NOT!
Him: It is TOO! I saw it, in the kitchen one time. A big fat mix from COSTCO!!!
Me: You're a LIAR!! That's what you are! GET OUT!!!!
We never spoke civilly again.
After literally decades of trying, I have, at last, found the holy grail. A way to make something close*** to Hobee's Coffee Cake at home.
Blueberry Sour Cream Coffee Cake
A personal homage****
For the cake:
3 c. buttermilk baking mix (like Bisquik)
1 c. sugar
1 1/2 c. sour cream
Splash of vanilla or almond extract
1 pint fresh blueberries
A couple of Tbs. of powdered sugar
For the topping:
3 c. flour
1 c. brown sugar
1 c. sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 c. (3 sticks) butter, cut into small pieces
Butter a 9x13 baking pan. Blend baking mix and sugar together in a large bowl, then mix in the sour cream, eggs, and vanilla with an electric mixer for 3-4 minutes. Batter should be very light and smooth. Set aside. Rinse and dry the blueberries, then gently roll them in powdered sugar to coat. This will keep them from streaking the batter when you mix them in. Carefully stir the blueberries into the batter. Pour batter into pan. If you want to make sure you have some blueberries on the top of your cake, save a few to scatter on top after it goes into the pan. Otherwise, they all tend to sink as the cake bakes*****.
Using a pastry blender, fork or a food processor, blend all the topping ingredients except the butter until well combined. Then, pulse or mix in the butter until you have a nice, chunky topping that resembles a blend of small pebbles, cornmeal and pieces of cookie dough. Sprinkle liberally on top of the cake batter, breaking up larger chunks and making sure to cover it entirely and generously. You may have a little extra, which is nice for a little treat after all this hard work.
Bake at 350 for 35-40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out nearly clean, with just a few moist crumbs. Serve warm. If you have some butter and a little ice cream scoop around, all the better.
* I know this because my reunion is coming up this fall and I double checked the math on the email they sent because I was sure they had me in the wrong class. But I am, in fact, officially some kind of geezer grad now. I even put on my progressive lenses and read the damn thing twice.
*** Perhaps even better, because as usual, I have erred on the side of extra topping.
**** Of course, now there's a purported copy of the real recipe online, which CLEARLY shows it does not come from a MIX!!!
***** This is fine in my house, because the kids assiduously eat around the blueberries, so having them on the bottom makes the dining table a lot less messy.