Tag Archives: Spring

Salted Pecan Coffee Cake with Maple Glaze

As I have worked my way through so many of my grandmother’s incredible recipes, I have come to notice a few things about her “style” or signature touches, especially with baking. Two big stand outs are the use of orange zest and sour cream as so many of her recipes call for one or both.

In her coffee cake recipe there is no orange zest but the addition of sour cream makes for a wonderfully rich and moist cake. I have made the cake a few times now and have been playing around with it, gilding the lily a bit.

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The first time I made it, I made the mistake of questioning grandma Ibby. Why would you want to top the cake with the streusel mixture and then end up with all of the “good stuff” on the bottom of the plate when you invert it out of the pan? So I put the streusel in the bundt pan first in order to have a pretty crumbly crunchy top to my cake. What I ended up with was an unattractive just about burnt mess. Sorry grandma, you do know best.

Still determined to update the recipe a bit and add my own touches, I decided to embrace the current salted caramel craze (a craze I am very fond of by the way) and add Fleur de Sel to the streusel. Let me tell you, that crunchy hit of salt on your tongue mingled with the sweet of brown sugar and spice of cinnamon – glorious. I’m talking Hallelujia Chorus G.L.O.R.I.O.U.S.

But how to finish the cake? How to add a little flourish to it without overdoing it or taking away from the beauty of the base recipe. I opted for finishing it with a simple maple glaze and Salted Pecan Coffee Cake with Maple Glaze was born; a most welcome addition.

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Salted Pecan Coffee Cake with Maple Glaze

Streusel

  • 6 Tbsp unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 Cup brown sugar
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp Fleur de Sel or coarse sea salt
  • 1 Cup finely chopped pecans

Cream together the softened butter, brown sugar and cinnamon (I just do it with a fork, not with a mixer) and stir in the Fleur de Sel and chopped pecans.

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Cake Ingredients

  • 2 Cups flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt or 1/4 tsp table salt
  • 1/2 Cup unsalted butter
  • 3/4 Cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 Cup Sour Cream

Cake Directions

In a large bowl combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt and whisk to combine.

In a stand mixer or with a hand mixer, cream butter, sugar and vanilla until light and fluffy (3-5 minutes).

Grandma’s Tip: Cream the butter for a few seconds before adding the sugar. Add the sugar slowly, a little bit at a time and then add the vanilla and cream 3-5 minutes until light and fluffy.

Add the eggs one at a time until just incorporated.

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Grandma’s Tip: Crack each egg into a small bowl, not directly into the mixer. This way you will avoid any stray pieces of shell and the potential for a bad egg ruining your whole mixture.

Mix in the dry ingredients in thirds, alternating with the sour cream; start and end with dry and mix each addition until just combined being careful not to overmix or overwork your batter.

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Take your time, do it right, enjoy the process and  you will end up with one gorgeous batter.

In a prepared 10 inch bundt pan (buttered and floured or coated with baking spray) spoon half of the batter and spread smooth. Sprinkle with half of the streusel mixture. Top with remaining batter and spread smooth. Sprinkle with remaining streusel mixture.

Bake at 350 degrees 40-45 minutes.

Cool in the pan for 20 minutes on a wire rack and then invert onto a cake stand or serving platter – make sure your serving dish has enough room for the maple glaze to pool around the cake. Let the cake cool completely (about an hour) before icing with the glaze.

Maple Glaze

Maple-Glaze

  • 1/2 cup Powdered Sugar
  • 2-3 Tbsp Pure Maple Syrup

MIx together until smooth.

Maple-Glaze-2The glaze should leave a sturdy “ribbon” when drizzled back into the bowl as you want it thin enough to run over the cake but thick enough to form a beautiful icing.

Drizzle over the cake and decorate the top with a few pecan halves or a light sprinkling of chopped pecans.

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Let me tell you what happens with the addition of the glaze.

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It puddles and pools around the base of the cake, seeping underneath and mingling with the salted pecan streusel creating a gooey almost caramel like sauce that is plate licking delicious.

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How I would love it if you could pull up a seat at our backyard picnic table under the blooming Palo Verde tree and enjoy a leisurely late breakfast. Happy conversation, a gentle warm breeze, bird song and the soft buzzing of honey bees in the tree’s yellow spring blossoms.

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I enjoyed just such a morning this past Saturday with a wonderful group of ladies who make up the prayer team I am blessed to be a part of. We spent some peaceful time in the comfort of the spring sun praying together and then enjoyed each other’s company as we shared this very special cake. My grandmother would have loved it; the prayer and the fellowship. And the cake.

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My grandmother’s original coffee cake recipe specified only “nut meats” in the streusel ingredients; leaving the possibilities wide open. I started with pecans, which is the recipe you have here. Next up, a walnut orange combo using the same basic batter and then having a little fun with orange; a bit of a tribute to her love of orange zest. I also have a hazelnut chocolate chip version rolling around in my head. Stay tuned!

Kitchen table, dining room table or backyard picnic table, I hope you find a moment to slow down, gather round and enjoy!

“Our Creator knows just what we need. God, who made food for our provision and pleasure, made the table for our souls.” – Joanne Thompson, Table Life

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Spring has Sprung; well at Least it had Yesterday

I think, finally, I can say that it is officially Spring around here. Finally. It is a little cold and rainy again this morning but I am going to stick with the idea that it is indeed, Spring.

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I know, I know, if you are back east, in the midwest or up north, you don’t want to hear a southwestern girl complaining about the cold – especially today with yet another winter storm blowing in. I used to live with snowy long winters too but I have been in Arizona for a long time now and my blood has become very thin. VERY thin. I could never go back, I wouldn’t survive a real winter.

Even here, we have had an unusually cold winter with several nights of record below freezing temperatures – not fun for desert plants or desert gardeners. There were a few mornings of taking kids to school in 20 degree temps that I was sure I wasn’t going to make it. Heated seats are the only thing that saved me.

But it has been warming up and for about a month now, I have been crazy to get outside and get my hands in the dirt and on the pruners. We live on just over two acres of Sonoran Desert and I have fallen in love with cultivating this harsh but beautiful land. One day soon, I will tell you the story of how we ended up here but for now I will just share that we have put almost 3 years of blood, sweat and tears (literally – everything here has a thorn or a spike) into our spread. I know it is only two acres but there are days when it feels like 200.

Finally, with the warm weather and long weekend, we were able to spend four straight days working outside; which is also why it has been a few days since I posted. It was warm and sunny and wonderful. We  planted a couple of new citrus trees and did a lot of pruning, clean-up and fertilizing and started working on our outdoor kitchen. We still have a lot to do but I am happy to report that everything seems to be showing signs of life – everything except my beloved Hibiscus but I haven’t given up or lost hope yet.

Yes, it is spring and I have proof …

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The tall spiky branches of the Ocotillo are covered in green.

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The landscape plants are starting to bloom.

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The Lantana, which was hit hard, is starting to show signs of life and recovery.

Spring-2Soon there will be peaches,

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and mandarin oranges,

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and lemons,

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and figs,

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and tomatoes,

and Meyer lemons, navel oranges, limes, grapefruit and fresh herbs (the full vegetable garden is in the works for next year).

We have also had our first visitor …

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found happily sunning himself stretched out on the back patio. I have come to an understanding with his kind. As long as they don’t have a rattle or venom of any sort, stay outside – let me repeat that STAY OUTSIDE, don’t startle me, don’t end up in the pool either dead or requiring rescue, don’t hiss at or threaten me or camouflage themselves in such a way as to startle me when I don’t see them, we are able to live in harmony or at least in tolerance. The rest of my family thinks these gopher snakes (who are around 5′ long when fully grown) are cool, awesome and “soooo cute” as Nathan says. As for me, I am just happy they don’t have fangs and a rattle.

So, now that Spring is officially upon us, I will be outside, A LOT, happily playing in the dirt. I may be absent from the blogosphere a day or two, here or there, but I promise I will be back with more stories of the land, the house, the family, the food and the savior that I love.

Come back for a visit tomorrow – I have a confession to make.

Happy Spring!

So about 9 hours after posting this, I am feeling the need for a “Post-Publication Edit”  …

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Ariel view, taken today, of the ball fields where “spring” training starts next week.

Spring 13A view of the Loop 101 Freeway in Scottsdale, taken today.

In this part of Arizona, we do not get snow. Not ever. Okay, once in a million years and today.

I may be an optomist but it is a good thing I’m not a weatherman.

What to Give and What to Give Up!

Ash Wednesday. The beginning of Lent. Forty days (Sundays not included) meant for reflection, repentance, and sacrifice. A time for Christians to prepare for Easter and remind ourselves why this time matters so much. That we would focus our hearts on Jesus Christ. On his life, death, burial and resurrection. On His suffering and His sacrifice.

I truly love this season, it always feels like a new beginning. A time of renewal, a rebirth. Spring is near and life is on the verge of abundance, nesting birds, blooming trees, a bursting garden. A recovery from that which was harsh and cold and heavy.

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Not all Christian churches observe Lent but my family does and we are deeply blessed to do so. I was raised Presbyterian and grew up with the season of Lent but not the personal practice of “giving something up” in observance of Lent. That is something my husband and I decided to do as a married couple and it is something our children will do for the first time this year. We have asked them to pray and listen for what God is putting on their hearts, what He wants them to give to Him. Sara is pretty sure she will be giving up the computer. David was quick to offer up fruits and vegetables, we suggested a bit more reflection. Nathan is still a little young to fully understand but we will encourage him and show him by our example.

If you have read my last few posts, you know that I have been on a bit of a journey with God over the last few weeks – probably much longer but I’ve only just begun to really listen. I feel Him pulling me forward into a new season. My family is moving into a new season. That I have felt coming for some time now. I have observed the change in my children. The deep healing and increased peace in them.

Kids

Four years ago, in the Spring, our older two children returned to us after having been back in the care of their birth mother for nearly two years. You can read more of that story in my post “Beauty from Ashes”. In that four years, we have walked with them through some very dark and terrifying places as they fought their way back from abuse and trauma. It has been hard. Very hard. The hardest thing I have ever done and I have not always done it with grace.

But now, my children are doing well. They are moving forward. Charging forward.

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God has redeemed so much and has brought them so far beyond their pain. He has enfolded them in His grace and filled them with the promise that His plan for their life is good. He has reached them and they have opened their hearts to Him in miraculous ways.

My own heart overflows for the changes I see in them but the process of that change has taken a toll. And now it is my turn. His eyes have turned toward me. Really they have always been on me too, but now I am aware.

Please don’t misunderstand. I am thankful and I am blessed and I am happy. Truly. But I am tired, I am weary, I am spent. Not because of my children or because of their pain or the journey God called us to walk with them. But because of my choices in dealing with just how hard it was. Because of my need for control and the avoidance of the depth of my own loss, grief and pain. The guilt of my mis-steps and lack of grace. Too long I have buried it all in distraction and busy-ness. Too many times I have come before Him broken and on my knees only to take back that which I was so desperate to give to Him. He has waited for me to bend just far enough and now He is calling me out. He is calling me to a season of change and renewal. And I am listening.

Lent. This year He is not asking me to give up a favorite food item, TV, wine or chocolate. No, He is asking for much more. He is asking me to dig deeper. He is calling me to give up SELF. To give Him the pieces of me that I still cling to, hide behind, wallow in, make excuses for.

I will spend the next forty days committed to a pattern of change, committed to live more intentionally. Directed and purposeful. Proactive instead of reactive. Refreshed and not tired. Renewed and not weary. Listening for His voice to tell me what is mine and giving over what He claims as His.

I will sleep more.

I will eat more that is green.

I will eat less that is white.

I will drink more water.

I will exercise more.

I will deepen my prayer life and devote more quiet time to Him. I will rise to meet Him every morning and not find a reason why I am too busy or too tired.

I will  make no excuses.

I will be slow to anger.

I will watch my tongue.

I will guard my thoughts.

I will remember that while I am a mom, I am a wife too.

I will fast. Over the past ten years, I have walked closer and closer to God but I have never fasted in prayer. Never. He is asking me to start.

I will rid myself of all that I have taken up that He has not asked of me. I will clear the clutter and all that keeps me too busy and distracts me from Him.

And when I am done, when He is finished. I will celebrate that He is Risen. That He lives. And that I too am alive again.