Teaching myself to cook, one recipe at a time.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Home Ec Coffee Cake

Back in middle school, I took a mandatory class called “Careers.” This name was my school’s attempt to put a modern spin on what was really home economics, but honestly I really liked the class. It had a cooking portion and while today I look back and wonder why our omelet recipe had 4 eggs in it, I will always be thankful for the coffee cake recipe that resulted.The cake became a favorite in my house and I found myself making it over and over.


Then I moved out and just stopped. I did make coffee cake from a different recipe a few times when I was living alone in Pennsylvania, but even that I just stopped making.

Then suddenly, last week, I found myself needing that original coffee cake. So much crumbly brown sugar, moist cake, so good. I looked all through my recipes and couldn’t find it, but luckily my mom had saved a copy of her own.

It’s not like cookie dough, where you cream butter and sugar and gradually mix in the dry ingredients. With this, you start off by combining all of the dry ingredients in one bowl, all of the wet ingredients in another bowl, and then pouring the wet stuff into a well in the dry stuff. My teacher showed us how.

So, start off with flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder. When I was making this, I was absolutely astounded at the amount of salt and baking soda that this recipe called for. Two and a half teaspoons. TWO AND A HALF. This isn’t soup! Was it a typo? Emailed mom, she said that she wasn’t sure but that it had been written this way since she’d had the recipe, and it had probably been about 15 years now. Okay, then, 2 1/2 tsp each of salt and baking powder. Wow.


Make a well in the dry ingredients. Realize you have no idea how to take a good, non-flash picture of the white contents of a white bowl without it being too dark. Try to put it in sunlight and realize that that won’t help.


Next, your wet ingredients. Milk, oil, and egg. No surprises there.


Beat the mixture


Pour the wet mixture into the well of dry ingredients.


Fold in the sides and beat until just moist. The recipe didn’t say that, but I pretty much assumed that it’s like muffin recipes that don’t turn out well if you overmix them.


Finally, put your topping ingredients together. Brown sugar, ground cinnamon, butter, and pecans. I never used to put pecans in it because, well let’s face it, I was a kid and kids don’t include nuts on purpose. But it looked like a pretty good idea this time around.


Use a pastry blender to mix it all up. I never used to have one of these so I always used a butter knife. This is much better.



So good. This is really the best part, you know.


Finally, time to put it in the pan. The first layer is half the batter…


Followed by half the streusel topping…


Followed by the rest of the batter…


Followed by the rest of the topping.


Pop it in the oven, and then it’ll look something like this.




First few bites tasted salty to me, but then again I wasn’t hungry.


Way later in the day, I was super hungry. Grabbed another piece and it tasted amazing.

And it passed the husband test. He loved it.


So good. Make it.
(But use less salt)


Recipe in the tastebook shortly.

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