There is just something comforting when it comes to making coffee cakes. I can remember Mom and Grandma always having these made under their glass cake stands. Typically every Saturday after having spent the day with my Grandma, when Mom & Dad came to pick me up after dinner Grandma always had coffee and tea made and a fresh coffee cake straight of the oven for them to snack on while they chit chatted for awhile. Thing is, as a kid I never was a big fan of these types of cakes as they were ‘grown up cakes’. They weren’t pretty, full of sprinkles or had a filling. And of course when you’re 7, EVERYTHING requires sprinkles… everything!
However as I got older and learned to appreciate food more, or more so the work and love put into a recipe, I saw that when it comes to a coffee cake, there’s more to it than what meets the eye…er mouth. See it wasn’t so much the type of cake itself but more so about the company you shared it with. It symbolized good times, laughter, love and family. The cake was just the tasty part of it that acted as the ‘glue’ the made the whole gathering solidified.
One of my earliest memories of this cake was when I was sitting at my Grandma’s dining room table playing with my Barbie dolls and from her kitchen I could hear my Grandma and Mom carrying on like two teenagers. Laughing to the part where they were crying, coughing because they couldn’t get enough air from laughing so hard or those unforgettable words of “Stopppppppppp! I’m gonna pee my pants!” only to see one of them do the pee-pee waddle down the hallway still laughing.
After a while those dolls lost their luster (and legs.. did your doll’s legs ever fall off? OMG and those damn shoes! They NEVER stayed on!) and the sounds from the kitchen drew my attention more and more. I wanted to be a part of it. Slowly I’d inch my way closer to the entryway, trying to be all stealth-like with my chubby little legs and roly-poly body until finally I made my way in. I made my way into the adult-zone. Now what was cool about my parents and Grandma is they didn’t treat me like a baby or kid. I mean if I acted grown up, they’d talk with me as such. With my being such an inquisitive child (and adult come to think of it), I wanted to know what it was like to be an adult. Meaning I wanted to carry on like they did (cause it seemed fun) and I wanted to do and eat what they did.
So Grandma made me my first cup of tea in her very good china and made it the way she did – 3 sugar cubes and milk. She’d blow on it just until it was just warm. She’d hold the spoon up so I could take my first sip. At first I wasn’t too keen on it so she popped another sugar cube in it and then I tried it again. Mmmm… I was hooked! Next came my very own slice of cake; again on her best china cake plates. I don’t know who was more nervous – my Mom or me. We were both scared that I, the Princess of Clutzes, would somehow knock the plate over and break it.
As I took that first bite I realized why they loved it so much. It was moist and tender, multi-textured from the cake crumb itself and the streusel topping and more importantly it tasted AMAZING! So as I sat there watching and eating I realized how they were eating this cake. A forkful of cake, a few chews and then a sip of tea. Folks when I tried that my eyes became full of delight! This… THIS this is how it’s meant to be eaten. After that first time when my parents would come to pick me up instead of playing with my dolls I would wait with bated breath for us ‘girls’ to have kitchen talk with tea and coffee cake.
In the beginning it was about tea and cake – no wonder I was a fat kid! However somewhere along the way, I started to pay attention to everything going on around me rather than the cake and tea. I realized they were telling stories of days gone by, complaining about their husbands, cracking jokes or just being silly. I can remember looking at my Mom’s face red as a tomato from laughing so hard, tears pouring down her cheeks and holding her belly from the laughter pain. That to me was priceless.
As the years passed by they both showed me how to make their cakes and we’d talk about how some day when I had my own house they’d come over every Saturday morning for us to have girl talk, tea and cake. Sadly those days never happened as they both passed on when I was still in school. I’ll be honest, it took me about 10 years or so before I would drink tea or make either of their cakes. It was too heart wrenching as that was ‘our’ thing.
It wasn’t until I was moving and was going through some hold photos where I came upon a picture of the two of them sitting at my Grandma’s kitchen table, tea in front of them and a cake. Even though the tears flowed like water down my cheeks the smile and giggle that escaped couldn’t be contained. Those were happy times; we made memories that I could have to last my entire life. At first it was just about cake and tea but the more I thought about it, they were teaching me about life and everything in between. They taught me how to love, cherish and realize that food is so much more than just something to eat. It’s love, comforting, family.
That very day when I found those pictures I went and made 2 cakes – Mom’s and Grandma’s. While they were different in their own right, I felt a duty to honor them both that day thus having both cakes. And as I sat at my kitchen table in my house alone drinking my tea and taking a bite from each of their cakes my eyes were full of tears and my heart was full of love and comfort. They were there with me; in my heart.
This cake, is a blend of both of their personalities. Tender, sweet, spicy and decadent. Make this a cake a part of your family as it’s been a part of mine for years. Teach your loved ones that food is about more than just sustenance and taste. Food bonds us with flavor, love and comfort.Print
Streusel Crumb Topping
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup white sugar
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 6 Tbl cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
- 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/3 cup unsalted butter, room temperature softened (not melted)
- 1/3 cup vegetable oil
- 1 cup white sugar
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 2 large eggs, room temperature
- 1 cup sour cream, full or low fat
- 2 tsp vanilla bean paste or extract
- Preheat oven to 350F degrees.
- Spray a 10” springform pan.
- Cover the bottom with foil and set on a rimmed baking pan.
- Make the streusel by whisking together the flour, sugar and cinnamon in a medium bowl.
- Using a fork or a pastry cutter, add the cold butter pieces and work into the dry mixture until well incorporated. Set aside.
- Make the batter sifting the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt in to a medium bowl.
- In the bowl of stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the butter, oil, and sugar until well combined.
- Turning the mixer to low add the eggs in one at a time, mixing well after each egg is added.
- Keeping the mixer on a low speed, slowly add in the sour cream and vanilla until just blended.
- Add in the flour mixture a third at a time mixing gently to combine.
- Continue until all of the flour mixture is added however be careful not to over mix the batter.
- Turn off the mixture, remove the bowl from the stand mixer and using a spatula gently stir by hand just to ensure that all of the wet ingredients from the bottom are completely mixed into the batter.
- Spread the batter into the springform pan and level evenly.
- Sprinkle the streusel on top.
- Bake for 40-50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center out clean.
- Remove the pan from the oven and place the pan on a cooling rack.
- Allow the cake to cool for at least 20 minutes before removing the springform ring.
- Cool completely prior to cutting.