Friday, December 12, 2008


I love receiving homemade baked goods from neighbors during the holidays. I have to admit, over the years I have not reciprocated very well, but I intend to make up for it this year. This is a recipe from a book entitled "The Secret of Tender Pie", written by Mindy Marin. I met Mindy at a book signing I hosted about 10 years ago when I was still a bookseller at "A Woman's Place".

Mindy is a casting director and I'm sure you've seen her name whiz by when watching one of her movies and just didn't pay attention. She has quite the resume, including Juno and the newly released The Day the Earth Stood Still. She is also a lover of comfort food and "The Secret to Tender Pie" is a compilation of recipes from grandmas all over the country. Who is better at making fabulous comfort food, after all? Mindy traveled the length and breadth of this country, seeking out grandmas willing to share their recipes with her. It really is a lovely little recipe book. Should you run across a copy, you might want to snatch it up. It is wonderful!

This is my favorite recipe from the book. I promise you, it is the most scrumptious coffee cake you have ever had. I think it will make perfect neighbor gifts and I will certainly make one for myself!

Brown Streusel Coffee Cake

2 cups brown sugar
2 cups flour
1 cup butter
1 t. cinnamon
1 t. baking soda
1 cup buttermilk (or coffee)
1 egg
1 teaspoon REAL vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 375. Mix first four ingredients and set aside 1 cup of the mixture for streusel topping.
Mix the baking soda into the buttermilk. Add the buttermilk, egg, and vanilla to the remainder of the first mixture. Pour into a buttered 13 x 9-inch pan and sprinkle with the set-aside streusel topping. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes.

This recipe is from Rosemary Cowan from Milwaukee, Wisconsin. She writes;

"This is an old Milwaukee recipe, passed down from my grandmother, who was born in 1855. My mother still makes this much-loved Brown Streusel Coffee Cake for every family reunion and get-together. It is always eaten to the last crumb. Even her adult grandchildren are not above fighting over who gets the last piece. In the early 1950's, my parents had a boardinghouse for college students in Milwaukee. This coffee cake was a Sunday after-church favorite.
While I was raising my children, it became our anytime treat--also a sure seller at church and school bake sales. Now that I have seven grandchildren, it's become a favorite for a new generation of hungry children. In spite of the raves that this cake always receives, it's very quick and easy to prepare, and it would be selfish not to share."

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