Sunday, May 17, 2015

Sunday morning: coffee cake.

Some Sunday mornings, you're the second to last person out of bed. First, your beloved, because for some inexplicable reason he woke up at quarter to seven. The last will be your son, because he just rolled back into town and was out late late late.

So you're in bed, half-sleeping, half-thinking. You have to shake off the dream where you're having your oral examinations for the Ph.D. you abandoned a long time ago, and also some other high-stakes exam that, in the light of day, you can't quite identify. No. No exams, no need to reschedule one to accommodate the other. So, whew, you know?

The next question, after dispensing with anxious dreams, is always, always what shall I make for breakfast?

"Sometimes, thinking about what I'm going to eat for breakfast is what gets me out of bed in the morning," I told the historian a couple of days ago. He laughed, but I'm serious. That's why, when the cupboards are bare, it's tricky to start the day.

But my cupboards are not bare, because I have flour, sugar, butter, eggs, and whole milk plain yogurt.  Which means I can make coffee cake.

When I was a child, I had the Betty Crocker Cookbook for Boys & Girls. In fact, I still have it, having recently acquired a copy in better shape than my childhood copy, which I also still have, with the black grease pencil marks by the cookie and other recipes I wanted to try. That cookbook relied rather heavily on convenience foods that happened to also be branded Betty Crocker, but it was nonetheless inspiring. I made all sorts of things out of it and it is one of the formative books of my youth and even my identity. I'm pretty sure that this cookbook was the place I first heard of coffee cake.

As the version of The Joy of Cooking that I use frequently notes, on the subject of coffeecake: "Coffeecakes are a nice excuse for eating cake any time of day. We subscribe to the illusion that cinnamon and nuts--in the form of streusel--or blueberries have the power to transform the richest cake into breakfast fare." To this, I say: yes, and Sunday morning is the best possible time for such illusion to become breakfast.

I offer the following, the very recipe I use and which my children--particularly my daughter in Louisiana, whom I wish had been here to have a slice or three with me--love.

[click to enlarge]

NOTE: if you use yogurt, make every effort to have whole milk yogurt. It is better and makes the whole thing taste better. I hope that we're all getting over this notion that low-fat is better automatically. Whole foods, people: whole foods (and I don't mean the store).

NOTE 2: My streusel is stripped down and I stand by it. Since you use 4 T. of butter for the cake batter, I use the other 4 T. in the stick to make the streusel. Today, I grated the cold butter using my box grater--pretty genius, although this technique works best when the butter is straight up frozen. So: 4T. cut up or grated butter; 1/2 c. flour, 1/4 c. sugar, brown or other; a little bit of cinnamon. Mix it up till it's nubbly. If you have grated the butter, then just mix it up. Press it evenly on top of the cake batter. #easy


  1. I would eat the hell outta that coffee cake. Just sayin.

  2. Now this -- coffee cake!! -- is a reason to get out of bed in the morning.



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