Greetings from House of Sick People! Or maybe the more accurate title should be, House of Exhausted People. dAhub has a respiratory infection and Girlfriend has a fever and is exhausted. We got back late last night from Girlfriend’s final school orchestra performance (she plays violin) and had dinner and didn’t even hit the beds until about 11:00—which is much too late for a family that needs to get up at 6 am. When I came downstairs to wake up Girlfriend she turned over and said, “I’m tired and I have a stomach ache.” I told her to stay in bed and sleep. A day off is what we all need. DAhub, ironically, had to get up early to go to the doc for his infection. It’s been one of those days where I just said, “Enough.” We all need a break.
I don’t know about anyone else, but by this time of the year, I’m wiped out. We are in the big end of year frenzy for Girlfriend’s school, so there are concerts and performances and projects and presentations and emails and surveys and library books to find and, and, and. We can’t wait for summer break and for the relaxation of our schedule. I only have one kid, so I don’t know how people with more than one kid do it. I can barely keep up with everything my one daughter needs to do and bring and be aware of each day. I always think that All the Things should happen in February. We’re not doing anything in February except being cold and dreaming of sunny and warm days. I say, do the performances and concerts then.
Today’s coffee cake is a Cardamom Coffee Cake. I made it (after baking cookies for the concert bake sale), thinking I would bring it to the parent coffee hour for Girlfriend’s school. I used to make one every Friday for the coffee hour at Girlfriend’s elementary school, but I’ve been so busy with book stuff that I haven’t gotten it together to do it for her middle school. Then everyone woke up sick and tired this morning, so I decided that I’m going to serve it for our brunch with pals on Sunday (hopefully a rest will help us get well before then).
This coffee cake is one of my favorites. It is decadent and rich and dense and moist. It’s full of fat and sugar. It contains a pound of butter and a pound of sour cream And four eggs. Oh yes it does. This is why I consider it to be a special occasion coffee cake. I only make it a couple of times a year, but when I make it—wowee! I forget how well the cardamom flavor goes with the brown sugar. The recipe is adapted from the Moosewood Cookbook, by Mollie Katzen, which is still one of my favorite cookbooks. That and The Enchanted Broccoli Forest are two of my “deserted island” cookbooks—i.e., books I would take with me if I was to be stranded on a deserted island that somehow had an oven for me to bake in.
I think the Moosewood was the second cookbook I got when I went to college, right after my mom gave me a copy of the Joy of Cooking. And it has served me very well over the years. I use it almost every week. I really think it needs to be on everyone’s bookshelf. Each recipe works well and is delicious. It has a series of soup recipes that are our favorites. One thing I’ve been trying to do this spring is invite friends over for lunch one day a week. I make a pot of soup and a couple of baguettes. We sit and chat over soup (and often over a glass of wine) and catch up. I’ve been so immersed in my own little world lately that I forget to connect with my pals. This lunch ritual has been wonderful and the soups have all been from the Moosewood. If you have the book, the Gypsy Soup and the Spicy Tomato Soup are in regular rotation over here. If you don’t have the book—get it! You won’t be sorry.
Anyway, the coffee cake. It also has a couple of veins of nut streusel woven through it, so at first glance it seems like your ordinary run-of-the-mill coffee cake. But one bite will let you know that it’s beyond everyday. It’s really good. It’s out of this world good. Be aware that when you bake it, it will probably rise up out of the pan by a quarter of an inch or so. Don’t panic–that OK because the cake is dense enough that it holds its shape. Also, if you don’t want to use the nuts in the streusel filling—that’s OK, too—just leave them out. The nuts are good, but they aren’t required. I use pecans, but walnuts would be excellent, as well.
Cardamom Coffee Cake, Gluten-Free
-adapted from the Moosewood Cookbook, by Mollie Katzen
Yield: one large Bundt cake
For the Nut Streusel
1/4 cup (55 g) brown sugar (I use dark)
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 cup pecans (120 g), toasted and chopped
For the Cake
4 cups (560 g) Jeanne’s Gluten-Free All Purpose Flour mix
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
2 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons powdered cardamom
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups (455 g; 1 lb; 4 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
2 cups (425 g) brown sugar (I use dark brown)
4 extra-large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups (455g; 1 lb) sour cream (check the label to make sure it’s gluten-free)
extra melted butter and tapioca flour for the pan
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F/180 degrees C/Gas Mark 4. Grease and flour a 10 cup Bundt pan with the melted butter and tapioca flour.
In a small bowl, whisk together the brown sugar, cinnamon, and chopped pecans for the streusel mixture.
In a medium bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cardamom, and salt.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium high until fluffy–about 1 minute. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the brown sugar and beat on medium high until fluffy–about 1 minute. Add the vanilla extract and beat until combined. Add the eggs, one at at time and beating after each addition. Then beat on medium high for another minute until smooth.
Add the flour mixture and the sour cream in alternating batches, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Beat until smooth. Remove the bowl from the mixer and using a large spoon, stir the mixture by hand a couple of times to make sure that all of the flour on the bottom of the bowl has been incorporated.
Spoon out about 1/3 of the batter into the bundt pan and smooth top. Spoon about 1/2 of the streusel mixture evenly over the top. Spoon out another 1/3 of the batter and smooth. Spoon out the remaining streusel evenly over the top. Then spoon out the remainder of the batter and smooth the top.
Bake at 350 degrees F for about 1 hour to 1 hour, 15 minutes–until a tester pushed all the way through the cake comes out clean.
Cool in pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes and then carefully turn out onto the wire rack to cool completely.
Store at room temperature covered in aluminum foil or plastic wrap for up to about 4 days.