Monday, April 23, 2012

Coffee Cake

Every year I give up sweets for Lent and every year I break the fast on Easter morning with my mom's coffee cake. Which, in fact, is a recipe from her mom. This year was no exception, but when I was asked to bring a birthday cake for a morning celebration at work I decided it was my turn to make the single best coffee cake you'll ever taste. That's an official title. I declare it to be so.

There is something I love about following recipes hand-written from my mom and grandma. My grandma passed away years ago, but there is something I find so comforting in leafing through the giant cardboard box of recipes penned in her own hand. Every time I see the word "oleo" in her penmanship (which is remarkably similar to my mom's and, at times, my own) I miss her just a little bit more.

Grandma Day's Coffee Cake
This makes a double recipe. To half it, cut the ingredient quantities in half and bake in an 8x8 or 9x9 pan and vary baking time accordingly, checking after about 30 minutes.

for the cake:
1/2 cup butter
2 cups sugar
4 eggs
1 cup milk
3 cups flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons salt

for the topping:
2 cups pecans, chopped
4 tablespoons butter, melted
4 tablespoons flour
2 cups brown sugar
2-4 teaspoons cinnamon, depending on how cinnamon-y you like it

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and generously butter a 10.5x15.5 pan. (I have not made this in a 9x13, though I am sure it would be fine.)

Cream butter, sugar and eggs in a mixer and add milk. Incorporate flour, baking powder and salt, mixing until well combined. Set aside.

For topping, mix all ingredients together in a large bowl until well combined.

Pour half of the cake batter into the pan, spreading with a rubber spatula as necessary (it will be thick). Sprinkle about half the topping in an even layer. Pour remaining batter on top and be careful to spread out as well as possible. This is hard to do because of the topping. It will seem as if there is not enough, but it will spread as it bakes, so just cover it as well as possible.  Cover with the remaining topping mixture and bake for about 40 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

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