I nearly had a panic attack last night when I realized I'd spent more than an hour trying to find something to bake and not a single thing caught my eye. Being the overthinker that I am, I immediately launched into a high speed thought train of wondering what it could mean, if I'd lost my mojo, why there wasn't a single special ingredient to be found in my barren kitchen to whip something up and other similarly terrifying ideas.
I have three new cookbooks that don't have a single smudge of butter between the pages and their spines are straight as arrows. It's embarrassing, really. What I do have are four bridal magazines piled on top of them, dog-eared on the pages that have budget tips and DIY ideas for centerpieces, color swatches and catalogs loaded with explanations on the difference between a sweetheart neckline and an off the shoulder. I swear, those glossies are wickedly overwhelming and I'm learning a lot in the process.
By "learning a lot" I don't mean that I'm figuring out the difference between chocolate brown and espresso brown [Newsflash : they are the same friggin' color]. I'm learning that I am not the wedding planning type. Sure, it's exciting, and there's lots of choices for brides these days. But I care less about the dress and more about the man. I don't see it as a wise investment of my money to spend an extra $10 per person so we can pass mini Beef Wellingtons around the room. Everytime I mention something along the lines of wedding planning, I'm met with ooh's and aah's and Oh, this is going to be so much fun! This is your day! Well, yes and no. It's our day. And a lot of opinions. When I was a wee little tot, I didn't ever play Bride and Groom and hosted a wedding in the upstairs hallway. I didn't parade around in a veil, pretending to get hitched and daydreaming about my wedding day.
Me? I was behind the stove of my plastic Fisher Price kitchen set. I had a baby on the hip and one in the high chair. I had a husband and a family and dinner on the table. Old school? Maybe. But just sayin'. I haven't been planning my nuptials since birth. I haven't given much thought to it at all, really. I get anxious watches those bridezilla shows where these increasingly spoiled women stamp their feet, demanding a $15,000 dress all while Daddy sits by saying, "That's my little girl! No expense spared!" Okay man, your little girl is now a raging brat who doesn't lose a wink of sleep knowing how much money she's costing you.
So, in celebration of simplicity, in honor of low budget I'm not going grocery shopping baking, a simple coffee cake. No spices, no nuts, no swirls. I like this better.
Classic Crumb Coffee Cake
Adapted from King Arthur Flour
1/2 cup butter, at room temperature
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon lemon extract or 1 teaspoon lemon zest
3 large eggs
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
heaping 1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup plain or vanilla yogurt, buttermilk, or sour cream
4 tablespoons butter, melted
1 cup all purpose flour
2/3 cup confectioners' sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 to 2 tablespoons confectioners' sugar or non-melting white sugar, for sprinkling on top
Preheat the oven to 325°F. Lightly grease a 9" square cake pan.
In a medium-sized mixing bowl, beat together the butter, sugar, salt, and flavorings for 2 minutes, till smooth. Add the eggs, beating well after each addition; continue beating after adding the last egg for at least 3 minutes at medium-high speed. The batter should look fluffy, with no grains of sugar visible.
Add the flour and baking soda to the butter mixture, beating gently to combine. Add the buttermilk/yogurt/sour cream, beating gently until well-blended.
Spread the batter in the prepared pan. Bake the cake for 30 minutes. While it's baking, prepare the topping.
Mix all of the topping ingredients together just till medium crumbs form. If you mix too long the crumbs will become too large, so pay attention.
After 30 minutes, remove the cake from the oven. Quickly and gently sprinkle the crumbs on top, and return to the oven.
Bake for an additional 15 minutes, until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove the cake form the oven, and cool it completely on a rack.
When the cake is completely cool, dust it with confectioners' sugar.