I am generally a fan of the savory side of breakfast. While I adore pancakes, I require a side of something meat-y to really enjoy them first thing in the morning. Crepes, of course, allow for the happy concatenation of the two, but are not always an option.
Still, there is certainly something to be said for a quick burst of food as one is about to fly out the door in the morning, or something that requires zero preparation or refrigeration to be enjoyed once one has arrived at their destination. To this end, there are few things that fit the bill better than a good coffee cake, especially one that is not cloyingly sweet.
While many coffee cakes are tasty, but heavy things, this one is shockingly light and airy and allows for almost infinite variety. Here I have used my basic Buttermilk Coffee Cake recipe (available in the comments section below), but skipped the sugared layering process, and instead scattered well-toasted walnut pieces on top and throughout, and stirred a little nutmeg into the batter.
I enjoy nuts, but I usually tend toward almonds, which are more shelf-stable, rather than walnuts. A walnut that has gone rancid is second only to rotten milk for a heebie-jeebie taste in the mouth that will not be vanquished. Still, a fresh, toasted walnut is so incredibly delicious that it is worth the risk. It also helps to purchase your walnuts from a specialty store that has a high turnover, so you can feel confident that you are getting a product that hasn't been sitting around forever. Also, it is good to purchase only as much as you need, and if you find yourself with a few leftover, you will want to toss them into some sort of endive salad or trail-mix snack in fairly short order.
This cake can also be frozen very successfully, if wrapped in a nice tight layer of plastic wrap, either whole or in serving-sized pieces (which generally will have defrosted completely by the time coffee-break rolls around, if taken from the freezer that same morning). This is one of the endearing features of this cake, because it means that I am not sentenced to repetition (which can be tedious, no matter how good the item repeated may be) in order to use it up while it is still fresh-tasting.