Thursday, March 19, 2009

Simple cakes


This, and many of my recipes, are "out-of-date." They require very basic ingredients and only a beginning knowledge of cooking. They go back to a time when "homemade" was being rediscovered, so they are indeed, very old! For me, they bring back memories. I first had this coffee cake shortly after my second child was born and he was still a tiny baby. Of all my recipes, it reminds me the most of his first few weeks. It is a quiet and gentle recipe, not very sweet, or rich, but just right. 

Aunt Nellie's Coffee Cake
Serves 16

Coffee cake:
1/2 cup butter
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1-1/2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 cup milk

Streusel (something strewn, in old German):
1/3 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
1/4 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
3 tablespoons firm butter
1/3 cup pecans (or walnuts), chopped, optional

To make the streusel, combine the brown sugar, flour and cinnamon. Cut in the butter, until crumbly. Mix in nuts, if desired.

To make the cake, beat the sugar into the butter with a mixer until thoroughly incorporated and mixture is light and fluffy. Blend in flour and baking powder alternately with milk. (I always combine my dry ingredients first, but I am a bit of a perfectionist when baking.)

Pour half the batter into a well-buttered and lightly floured 9 x 9 x 2-inch baking pan. Sprinkle evenly, (or strew!), with half the streusel. Add the remaining batter and spread gently to the edges with the back of a spoon. Sprinkle with the remaining streusel to top the coffee cake. Bake in an oven pre-heated to 350ยบ F. for 25 to 30 minutes. Check the cake for doneness by inserting a table knife into the center. Crumbs should cling to the knife, but all should be cooked. Cool on a rack and serve from pan. Best served freshly baked and cooled to just warmer than room temperature. It is not good, if too hot. And, make the pan a pretty one for guests. 

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