Sunday, December 20, 2020

Welcome Winter Coffee Cake

Tomorrow, December 21, brings the winter solstice. To be clear, I am not a fan of winter (too cold, too dark, too long), but I am a fan of baking up something to warm your house and heart. And this coffee cake is just the ticket. 

I’ve been making this for years and cannot believe I never wrote about it! A man named Jack gave my husband this recipe years ago - hence the recipe’s real name: Jack’s Jewish Coffee Cake. It makes a large cake (9x13) but if you’re thinking that in quarantine it’s too big and you’d have no one to share it with, not to worry - it freezes like a dream. So do as I do - bake it up, enjoy one (or two - we don’t judge) squares with a warm cup of coffee or tea, then cut it up into portions, wrap well (in plastic wrap and a Zip-lock bag), and store in the freezer. Then when you’re in need of some deliciousness, just reach into your freezer, pull out a portion, and in an hour or so, it will be ready to enjoy.

This cake has all the feels - a cinnamon-nutty streusel (both on top and in the middle), a moist sour cream base (resulting in a very tender crumb), and fills your house with an incredible aroma while baking. Just what the doctor ordered to lift our spirits through the winter.

Wishing you a healthy winter season! 

Jack’s Jewish Coffee Cake



1/2 lb butter

2 C sugar (can reduce to 1-1/4 C if needed)

2 t vanilla

4 large eggs

4 C flour

3 t baking powder

2 t baking soda

1 pint sour cream


1 C chopped walnuts

1 C sugar

1 TB cinnamon


  1. Grease and flour 9x13x2” pan
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  3. With electric mixer, cream together butter, sugar and vanilla.
  4. Add the eggs and beat for 2 minutes.
  5. In a separa

  6. te bowl, sif
  7. t together the flour, baking powder, and baking soda.
  8. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture.
  9. Add sour cream and beat for approximately 2 minutes.
  10. In a small bowl, stir together the chopped walnuts, cinnamon, and sugar for the streusel.
  11. Put half of the batter into the prepared pan, then sprinkle with half of the streusel. Pour the rest of the batter on top, smooth out, then sprinkle the remaining streusel on top.
  12. Bake for approximately 50-60 minutes (if your oven runs hot, check it at 45 minutes*). A cake tester should come out clean (or if using a thermometer, cake should register approximately 190-200F).

* In our previous home, my Wolf oven was very accurate and I almost never worried about over-baking cakes. But in this oven, I’ve found things over-bake quite easily. So I just bought a fabulous instant-read thermometer after the one we had for years died. The Thermapen MK4 is incredible - why did I wait so long to buy a “real” instant-read?! It’s a bit pricey, but we’ve now used it for everything from cake to steak to chicken and it’s hands-down the best instant-read we’ve ever had. They have other less expensive models, but this one gives you super-fast 2-3 second reads, is waterproof, has a backlight, an auto-rotating display, and a motion-sensing sleep/wake mode. And if you needed anymore evidence, it was rated #1 by America's Test Kitchen. 

And, no, I’m not getting any compensation for my glowing review; I just wanted you to share in my joy! 

Wednesday, December 9, 2020

Armchair Vacationing

Greetings, Dear Readers.

Hope you are all doing OK. 

There was good news today that an FDA independent review board found that the Pfizer/BioNTech coronavirus vaccine appears to meet the standard for emergency use authorization. So we are one step closer to the FDA clearing it for immediate use (the FDA will meet on December 10 for a full-day public meeting to discuss the data). We’re still months away for enough vaccine supply for the general public, but at this point I’ll take whatever good news I can get.

Along those lines, as I was cleaning out my inbox, I came across several blog posts about some of the beautiful trips taken in 2018 and 2019. As I read, I found myself transported back to Paris and the dreamy French countryside, the awesome northern Italian alps, the zen-inducing British Virgin Islands, the inspiring vastness of Tanzania, the hustle-bustle of Lisbon, and a few others. If you, like me, need a diversion from the approaching winter season/second COVID-19 lockdown, grab a coffee (or a glass of wine), find a comfy chair, and take an armchair vacation. 

Stay well!

Gorgeous figs at the Paris market.


A hearty first course for lunch in northern Italy.

Northern Italy Photo Tour:

Beautiful serene lake, northern Italy

Northern Italy:

Accompaniments for wine tasting, Portugal


Adorable baby elephant, Tanzania


Sunrise, British Virgin Islands

British Virgin Islands:

Rodney Scott BBQ, Charleston


Fabulous whiskey sour, Charleston

Charleston, Part II

Up close & personal with a curious monkey, Costa Rica

Costa Rica/Panama:

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