When I was a teen in Springfield, Virginia, the hot hotness in the Washington Post food section was a column called "The Cake Mix Doctor," an awesome guide to churching up cake mixes with select ingredients to create new-flavored cakes or cookies. Ground ginger! Ground cinnamon! Pecans! White chocolate chips! It was all the rage, at least in my mom's house. When I worked as head baker on Star Island, off the coast of New Hampshire, Sarah Wicker, the head chef, taught me the power of combining sour cream and cake mix for instant, delicious coffee cake. There are two decisions you'll need to make before whipping up this coffee cake. First, choose the fruit you want to use. Then decide if you want that fruit canned, frozen, or in the form of pie filling. If you go with pie filling, you will spread it through the middle of the cake for a stunning layered effect. The other two options have you mixing the fruit into the batter, for a more uniform fruit-to-cake ratio. Any of the three variations will give you a scrumptious way to start, or end, the day. Serve it with a good cup of coffee, and get yourself in gear.
Heat the oven to 350°F. Grease a 9-inch square baking dish.2.
Prep the cake: Measure out 1⁄2 cup of the cake mix and set aside for the topping. Combine the remaining cake mix, the sour cream, and egg in a medium bowl and beat until just smooth, with no lumps remaining.3.
If you are using canned or frozen fruit, mix it into the batter and pour the mixture into the prepared pan. If you are using fruit filling, pour half the batter into the prepared pan, cover with the fruit filling, and top with the remaining batter.4.
Prep the topping: Toss the reserved 1⁄2 cup cake mix with the cinnamon and butter in a small bowl until the mixture is crumbly and streusel-like. Sprinkle it evenly over the cake batter.5.
Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, until the top is golden brown and a thin knife plunged into the center comes out clean or with a few traces of fruit filling. Cool completely in the pan before cutting into 2-inch squares and serving.6.
Cover leftovers with plastic and refrigerate for up to 1 week. If you have time, throw slices in the toaster oven to make something exciting and new for breakfast.