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June 7, 2010

Get me to the church on time

Coffee cakeEver watch those "reality" cooking shows where chefs are running around supermarkets, frantically filling their carts? That never happens in real life, right?

Except Sunday morning, when I was supposed to make something for a bake sale to benefit a family at my church.

The couple had four children of their own and have, over the years, adopted four more from China, all little girls with health problems. They are in the process of adopting yet another little girl, this one with serious heart defects. The sale was to raise money for adoption and medical expenses.

A good cause to say the least, and I very much wanted to contribute by baking something.

I'd worked Saturday, but figured I could bake for the Sunday morning sale when I got home. And I could have, if my husband hadn't decided to make a batch of hard-boiled eggs, leaving none for the sour cream coffee cakes I'd planned to bake.

I'm not complaining about my husband. All he wanted was some protein in his salad. And he was good enough to go to the store for me after dinner. But by the time he got home, it was late and I was beat. I figured I could get up at 6 Sunday and have plenty of time to have the cakes at church before 9 a.m. Mass. The sale would begin right afterward.

So I got up, creamed the butter and sugar, added the eggs, combined my dry ingredients. All going according to schedule. Until i cracked open my container of Breakstone's. Curdled.

It wasn't Breakstone's fault. I'd had that container in the fridge for longer than I'd realized. It had never been opened, but it was well past its expiration date.

So it was off to Safeway, where I made a mad dash to the dairy case -- why is that always in the back of the store?!! -- and then to the register and out the door.

Back at home, I was able to get the cakes quickly into the oven. Once baked, they seemed to take forever to cool enough to be wrapped for the sale. But I managed to get the cakes to church in time. Not quite before the start of Mass, as I'd intended, but well before it let out. So we were late for church, but in time for the bake sale. 

i was good with that. So good, I didn't even mind when I took my kids over to the sale and my son chose a store-bought doughnut.


Sour Cream Coffee Cake

The origins of this recipe are unclear. I got it from my mom. I think she got it from her sister-in-law.

1 stick butter, softened

1 cup white sugar

2 eggs

1 tsp vanilla

2 cups flour

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp salt

1 cup sour cream

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts

1 1/2 tsp cinnamon 

Cream butter with white sugar. Add the eggs and vanilla, and beat a couple minutes. Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Beat about a third of the flour mixture into the butter mixture. Beat in about half of the sour cream. Beat in another third of the flour mixture, then the remaining sour cream, then the rest of the flour.

In a separate bowl, combine the brown sugar, nuts and cinnamon.

Pour half of the batter into a 10-by-4-inch tube pan.  Top with half of the brown sugar mixture. Pour the remaining batter on top, and sprinkle the rest of the sugar mixture on top of that.

Bake at 350 degrees for ... 

OK, now you'll really know this is a family recipe. Maybe 40 minutes. My copy doesn't actually indicate a cooking time. I doubled the recipe for the bake sale but used a bunch of smaller loaf pans. I can't even tell you how long those smaller cakes took. Seemed like for-ev-er, but it was one of those mornings. Just bake until it is browned on the top and it passes the toothpick test.


Miami Herald photo  

Posted by Laura Vozzella at 5:31 AM | | Comments (1)


But wait! Didn't you put berries in your cake? Looks like there are berries in the photo?

You must have missed the photo credit at the bottom. That's not my cake. I was running too late to get a photo of my own. Sorry for the confusion. LV

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About this blog
Richard Gorelick was appointed The Baltimore Sun's restaurant critic in September 2010. Before joining the paper staff fulltime, he contributed freelance criticism and features articles about food to area and regional publications. Along the way, he dispatched for short-distance trucking companies, shilled for cultural non-profits, and assisted in cognitive neurology research – never the subject, always the control.

He takes restaurants seriously but not himself, and his favorite restaurant is the one you love, too.

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