Every once in a while you do something that surprises you and catch a glimpse of the person you were made to be.
~ John Ortberg
I noted in the beginning that Patch405 – the garden – was a selfish endeavor. I also said that I hoped my family would come to understand that Patch405 was about more than growing good tomatoes. This winter, in the weeks since I planted my cover crop and pulled my garden supplies indoors, I have contemplated the bigger Patch405 – the blog.
I’m working on developing my point-of-view for this blog. Right now my thoughts are scattered all over the place. I know one thing I want to do is to gather memories for my kids. There are a couple of books I love that I feel capture the essence of what I want to memorialize for my children. One of the first ones I read was Bread and Wine by Shauna Niequist. In it, Niequist shares a memory and then includes a recipe. The reader may simply read the stories, perhaps trying a recipe here and there. I’m sure her family treasures both the stories and the memories.
When I am at my absolute best, I am kind and thoughtful and considerate. I can remember those times. Those times are not now. For a variety of reasons, I’m not even close to the person I want to be.
When I am at my absolute best – I bake. Namely, I bake a particular coffee cake. Your birthday? Coffee cake. Just moved to the neighborhood? Coffee cake. Kid with a broken leg? Coffee cake. New grandbaby? Coffee cake. Death in the family? Coffee cake. Stressed about your in-laws’ visit? Coffee cake. Hostess gift? Coffee cake.
When Delaney needed (wanted) to raise money for her 3rd grade field trip? Coffee cake. (Thank you, MDA family!)
When we wanted to celebrate a cancer milestone with Cooper’s medical staff? Coffee cake.
My kids know this particular coffee cake well. I’ve baked well over one hundred of these through the years. It’s easy to make. There have been times in my life when I wouldn’t even need to look at the recipe to bake it. It keeps well – although, that is never a problem. Technically, it’s not made from scratch. However, the ingredients are easy to have on hand. Brad has been known to request one for ‘tomorrow’ and I can readily oblige.
I love being thoughtful and kind and considerate. I love simple gestures. I love doing something for you that you wouldn’t do for yourself. I love doing something for you that you won’t feel the need to repay.
I love the ‘me’ that bakes coffee cake. That’s the ‘me’ I want my kids to remember. That’s the ME I want to be.
Perfect Coffee Cake (aka Cinnamon Brunch Cake)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
10-inch Bundt pan, greased (I use PAM for Baking)
½ cup packed brown sugar
2 tsp ground cinnamon
¾ cup finely chopped pecans
1 package (18.25 oz) white cake mix
1 package (4-serving size) vanilla instant pudding mix
¾ cup vegetable oil
¾ cup water
1 tsp vanilla extract
1. Combine brown sugar and cinnamon. Set aside for filling.
2. Sprinkle pecans evenly in bottom of prepared pan.
3. In a large mixer bowl, combine cake mix, pudding mix, eggs, oil, water, and vanilla extract. Beat on medium speed for 2 minutes.
4. Spread one-third of batter over nuts in pan. Sprinkle half of the cinnamon-sugar filling over batter. Spread another third of batter on top, then remaining cinnamon-sugar, and then remaining batter.
5. Bake for 45 to 55 minutes or until a tester inserted in center comes out clean.
6. Cool for 25 minutes in pan on a wire rack; then remove cake.
• You can eat it right away. However, I’ve found that if you let it sit overnight it somehow settles and tastes even better!
• It truly works any time of day – with morning coffee, a snack with iced tea, or a dessert.
• I understand that it freezes really well. Personally, I’ve never tried this.
• I always, always, always make it this way. When I have suggested trying a different combination, Brad always shakes his head in opposition. The original recipe provides variations – use walnuts instead of pecans; or use almonds instead of pecans, and switch the vanilla extract to almond extract.
• Total side note: For my day job, I’m the marketing director for a shopping center. We have a new store – Sur La Table (from Seattle!). Everyone here is raving about this product: Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Bean Paste by Nielsen-Massey. I will be trying it for the first time over the holidays – in several recipes!