Spring Holidays amidst the “stay home, stay healthy” orders and all that goes with that

Easter Sunday.  I had decided I would bake a nice loaf of bread or something —such as brioche cinnamon rolls, or a rich, filled pastry, and take one to each of our children and their families.

I procrastinated by looking at recipes and pictures in my baking books (a fun and terrible habit when in a pinch!) for so long, it pretty much nixed the production of something elaborate because it was Easter “eve” before I decided. I ended up making a simple coffee cake on Easter.

Still cooling, tipped out of pan. Unadorned with either glaze or confectioner’s sugar–so so rich!

It contained a pound of butter in addition to sour cream, brown sugar, vanilla extract, flour, baking powder, baking soda, powdered (ground) cardamom, salt, and eggs —not necessarily in that order. A streusel filling of brown sugar, ground cinnamon, walnuts. The recipe says to bake it in a 10-inch tube or Bundt pan. I used my Bundt.

Just out of the oven.

In hindsight, I could have split it up and baked it in mini loaves. As usually is the case when I try a new baking recipe, I follow the directions pretty closely to see exactly what the results should (presumably) be. Then if I want to tweak it, I can more easily adjust what I want and get good results again.

Of course, if the result is crap, well then, I might make it again if I can easily figure out the problem (I mixed it too much, I baked it too short a time, I measured incorrectly, the oven wasn’t right, etc.) Sometimes the recipe is just not right, so I toss it. Usually after the 3rd try.

I digress.

The batter filled the pan almost to the top.

The cake itself was so dense it didn’t look done once cooled and cut, but it was. The test for doneness was to insert a knife all the way to the bottom–if it came out clean, it was done. I had actually overbaked it by 5 minutes.

Doesn’t look quite done, but it’s so dense…

It was very, very rich. As evidenced by the ingredient list. And very, very good. I divided it evenly, arranged slices decoratively on plates; wrapped them in plastic wrap tied with a ribbon; and placed each plate with colorful tissue into reusable grocery bags I had hanging around. (is there a pun there?) And of course. my husband and I had an ample sample. (Oh, dear.)

I heard about this marvelous Cardamom Coffee Cake from my sister, who had made it a few times to take to church Christmas potlucks. She was vague about the origin of the recipe but with research and simple deduction, it was easy to find the source —The New Moosewood Cookbook by Mollie Katzen. The Moosewood Cookbook is a vegetarian cookbook that has been around since 1974; the new version is the 40th anniversary edition (2014).

Since I could only find copycat recipes on-line, I don’t feel like I should print the copywritten material. The book is available in libraries, whenever they open again.

It was late afternoon before we left to deliver our gifts. (The cake takes an hour and a quarter to bake, and then 20 minutes to cool before turning it out of the pan to cool 30 minutes more!) First stop was our eldest daughter, who lives with her fiancé and our 10-year-old granddaughter, about an hour and 15-30 minutes from us, depending on time and day.  

We visited for a bit, employing social distancing and then took off for our son’s house. Our short visit had us standing in the driveway, him on the back porch. I’m not sure where the grandsons were. After our chat, we delivered the last to our youngest daughter. Again, we kept the social distancing rule. We got to her house close to the baby’s bedtime, so we didn’t stay long.

I felt happy just having seen them all. We text and my daughters Skype, and we talk on the phone occasionally. But it isn’t the same as seeing them in person.

Then, on Mother’s Day, my son and grandson showed up unexpectedly, bringing me a lovely bouquet.

My older daughter called to tell me she was on her way down with her fiancée and my granddaughter –who brought me a piece of rosemary shortbread from a bakery near where they live. We stood and chatted on our back porch for a little while. It was very nice.

Later my youngest and her husband, along with my grandson (whom I have been watching half-days), brought us dinner and joined us (we’d been through the whole safety/sanitizing/quarantined routine since I was going to be watching my grandson so it was cool). Dinner was superb, take-out from a fancy-ish restaurant in our little town that had a special Mother’s Day menu. Duck breast in berry Port wine sauce with risotto and veg; chicken in tarragon cream sauce with whipped potatoes; seafood risotto featuring local salmon, shrimp, scallops, cod. Buttermilk ice cream—the best ice cream I’ve ever tasted!

It was a lovely day.

Thanks for reading.

Happy Baking!

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