I didn't immediately go for the coffeecake. In fact, I didn't order it at all—my friend did, and I think I sighed when she suggested it. We were at Sofra, Ana Sortun and Maura Kilpatrick's excellent Middle Eastern bakery/café in Cambridge, where the counter was stacked with interesting sweets like chocolate-hazelnut baklava, sesame-cashew bars, and delicate-yet-creamy kunefe (Levantine ricotta-phyllo pastry) with cardamom syrup. Ordering the coffeecake felt like ordering wonton soup in a world-class Sichuan restaurant: the token safety dish for picky eaters.
Like most everything I've had at Sofra, though, the cake exceeded my expectations, and not just because there were exotic flavors in the mix. On the contrary, the filling running through the middle of the batter that day was a jammy blueberry mixture, pretty straightforward stuff. (The flavors rotate seasonally; maple-walnut is another great option that's not as sweet as you might expect, and I've heard rumors about tangerine-brown butter and cranberry-cornmeal.) It's the cake itself that was so extraordinary: dense in a good, moist, luscious way, with a plush, very rich, tangy crumb.
These days, I can never leave Sofra without a slice. If Sortun and Kilpatrick ever publish a Sofra cookbook (here's hoping!), this will be the first recipe I make.
Related: For the chef's own picks at what to eat at Sofra, check out this guide.