This post-Halloween morning, I awoke to rain pounding against the windows. I made my way through a darkened house littered with feathers, candy wrappers, plastic bones and the black and red remnants of Halloween costumes. The mess can wait, though. First things first: to fill the kettle and turn on the oven. By the time I get out of the shower, the sweet smell of warm cinnamon will be filling the house.
If I were alone, I could take a cup of tea to bed and read/rest off the Saturday night excesses; but I’m not alone. Massed between sofa cushions and blankets is a jumble of pre-teen bodies. They are sleeping on my living room floor – and all of them will need to be fed again, despite feasting late into the night.
We have weekend guests quite a lot, at least once a month, and Sunday mornings always pose a bit of a problem for me. I want to give my guests something special, but I’m not much of a morning person. Happily, I’ve discovered a good trick for bathrobe entertaining: Overnight Coffee Cake. Believe me, it’s just what you need for the upcoming months of holiday entertaining.
You can make it the night before – quickly, easily and with compromised faculties – and then just pop it in the refrigerator. After some time in the oven, simultaneously warming and perfuming your kitchen, this delicious cake will fill the gap between the first cup of coffee and the more laborious effort of producing bacon and eggs.
It will serve a good many people, but if you leave it on the counter – for nibblers – it will slowly and surely disappear. It is sweetly simple, and I’ve fed it to the pickiest eaters with great success. Yes, early risers can make do with toast or cold cereal; but really, this is so much better.
Overnight Coffee Cake
(adapted from a recipe that came from the Inn on the Creek,
a now-defunct B&B in Salado, Texas)
6 ounces unsalted butter
8 ounces sugar
2 large eggs
8 ounces sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
2 cups flour (approximately 12 ounces if weighed instead of measured)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon grated nutmeg
6 ounces brown sugar
4 ounces pecans, chopped
1 teaspoon cinnamon
Cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add eggs, sour cream and vanilla and mix until smooth. Add all of the dry ingredients and mix together, gently, until thoroughly incorporated.
Spoon into a greased 13x9 glass or ceramic baking pan.
Combine the ingredients for the topping, and spread evenly over the batter. Then cover your pan with plastic wrap or foil and refrigerate overnight.
In the morning, simply remove the cover and bake in a preheated medium oven (350F/175 C) for 45 minutes.
Although I’ve never done so, the original recipe suggests that you can also add fresh fruit to the topping. I’m sure that you could also vary the spices and nuts with great success. It is a sturdy, moist, beautifully adaptable cake: perfect for those who might be feeling slightly under-the-weather on a post-holiday morning. And much, much better for you than a handful of Halloween candy.