Name: margalit
Location: Massachusetts, United States Professional writer, educational advocate, opinionated ultra liberal mother of 18 year old twins, living life in the slow lane due to hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, congestive heart failure, and diabetes.

email: margalitc at yahoo dot com

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Saturday, June 03, 2006

Memorable food

One of my fondest memories is a coffee cake that my mother used to make. Now, I have very little positive things to say about my mother, but the woman was a fabulous cook. She was the Jewish Martha Stewart of her day. She loved to cook, and to entertain. I think she's the only mom I ever knew that catered both her son's bar mitzvah totally by herself. Full dinners, starters, desserts... you name it, she cooked it. My mother made things like tongue in a sweet cherry glace, that sounds disgusting but could knock you over it was so good. Stuffed cabbage to die for. A brisket that made grown men weep. A noodle kugel with orange bits that actually won a prize. But she didn't just cook ashkenazic favorites, she cooked amazing things like Greek Lemon Soup and Chicken Paprikash and a watermelon fruit basket that garnered oooos and aaaaaas whenever it was served.

Cooking she was good at. Baking, oh man that woman excelled at making desserts. She used to make huge bombes with 8 or 10 different flavors of ice cream. She made a missisippi mud pie that you could eat whole in one sitting. Cookies, bars, cakes, sweet breads. You name it, she baked it. She didn't often cook or bake for the family on a regular basis, but as I said, she loved to entertain and she pulled out all the stops when we had company. Her dinners were legendary when I was growing up. She belonged to a gourmet club for years and nobody ever missed the dinners at our house. She's been in cookbooks, and she's cooked for the hoi poloi of Los Angeles society from the 1970's. I learned how to cook and bake from her, although I'm nowhere near as talented. I also learned how to read cookbooks as novels from her, and I still take them to bed with me on a fairly regular basis, although she had about 5 times the cookbooks I have, and I have a ton!

So, back to the coffee cake. My mom used to talk about how the bakeries in LA just didn't know how to make a good, dense sour cream coffee cake like you could get in the Brooklyn of her youth. Not surprising, but it bugged the heck out of her because she did like her coffee cake. So she set out to repeat the recipe of her memories, and came up with a wonderfully dense, coffee cake. But she never wrote down the recipe, or if she did, it's probably still in her Elvis recipe book (honestly, the woman kept her recipes in an old leather Elvis zippered notebook that has to be worth a fortune on Ebay) somewhere.

I've tried to copy her recipe but I haven't been ultimately successful, probably because the amount of fat in what must have been her recipe scares the crap out of my heart healthy brain. What I think she did was to make a pound cake with the typical pound of butter, pound of white sugar, pound of flour and then add some sour cream and strusel crumbs. That's what it tasted like, anyhow.

This recipe is my latest try, and I must say, it's very very close. Not quite as dense, but very close indeed. Try it and let me know how you liked it. Because, let's face it, there is nothing greater on a weekend morning than a big pot of Kona and some yummy, warm from the oven coffee cake.

Sour Cream Coffee Cake

1 cup unsalted butter, room temp, + 1 tsp for buttering the pan
3 cups unbleached white flour, spooned and leveled, plus another tbs for the pan
1 tbs baking powder
1 tsp kosher salt
1 cup sour cream (I use low fat)
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 cup sugar
3 large eggs at room temp
2 tbs pure vanilla extract
Cinnamon-Walnut Streusel (recipe to follow)

Preheat over to 350 degrees farenheit. Butter and flour a tube pan, preferable nonstick. A bundt pan will work, too.

In medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt and set aside.

In a small bowl, whisk together the sour cream and baking soda.

With your electric mixer, beat butter, sugar, eggs, and vanilla on high speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes with a kitchenaide stand mixer.

Lower mixer speed and add flour mixture in three parts, alternating with the sour cream mixture in two, beginning and ending with flour. Mix until just moistened.

Spread 1/3 of the batter in pan. Sprinkle with 1/3 of streusel topping. Repeat twice, ending with last of topping.

Bake until a toothpick inserted into center of cake comes out with a few moist crumbs, about 60 to 70 minutrs, depending on your stove.

Cool in pan for 30 minutes, then turn out of pan and cool top side down on a rack.

Streusel Topping

In a small blow, stir together 3/4 cup chopped walnuts or pecans (I like pecans, Mom was a walnut girl) 1/2 cup white sugar, 1/2 cup light brown sugar, 2 tsp ground cinnamon, and a pinch of allspice (optional, but I like it).
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Blogger Pioneer Woman said...

Holy. Moly. This looks just like one my mom used to make. I'm tryin' it...NOW.

3/6/06 9:04 AM  
Blogger ribbiticus said...

wow! that sounds delish! thanks for sharing this - can't wait to try it! ;)

3/6/06 2:28 PM  
Blogger Common Sense Beauty said...

Good God that sounds WONDERFUL.
Here from the meet and greet at Michele's.

3/6/06 2:40 PM  
Blogger Just a trumpet player said...

The only thing I learned from my mom about food is how to pick a menu and order take-out... she was the worst cook ever but at least she knew it !

That cake looks delicious ! I might try over the weekend !!

Michele sent me. Have a great weekend !

3/6/06 2:51 PM  
Blogger Wordnerd said...

Visiting from Michele's, and boy, does that look divine! Going to see if I have the ingredients to make it...


3/6/06 4:42 PM  
Blogger Crayonsetc said...

Oh my goodness, that looks so yummy!!!

I think I would try the recipe, except for the fact I ALWAYS have to alter recipes cuz I am at the lovely altitude of 7K feet... and I never can figure out, do you reduce the fat or add extra flour ;)

I'll let you know if I give it a try!!

Stopping by via Michele this afternoon to say Hello!!

3/6/06 5:01 PM  
Blogger Maggie said...

I would love a slice right now.
Via Michele,

4/6/06 9:15 PM  
Blogger Mynah said...

Yummy!! Thnx for wonderful recipe....itz really scrumptious.

4/6/06 9:15 PM  
Blogger shpprgrl said...

That looks wonderful!

Here from Michele's!

9/6/06 11:45 PM  

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