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March 14, 2011

The coffeecake. With coffee, of course.

Yesterday I woke up early and could not go back to sleep. I read on the couch for a while, then started to think about breakfast. I had not made coffeecake in a long time. This was as good a time as any to remedy that situation. I considered cherry scones, but I knew there was no cream in the fridge. I love the tart Montmorency cherries they sell at Trader Joe’s and my husband very kindly fills his luggage with cherries for me whenever his travels bring him near one of the stores. What about a cherry coffeecake? While checking the fridge for other ingredients, I came across some apple slices left over the previous day’s festivities, and so the idea was born.

Apple Cherry Coffeecake


  • 2/3 cup all purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup chopped pecans
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt


  • 2 cups White Lily flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/4 cups plain yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • Grated zest of one lemon
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup dried cherries
  • 1 Granny Smith apple, diced

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 13×9 inch pan. Put topping ingredients in a food processor and pulse several times until the mixture is well mixed and crumbly. Set aside for later use. In a mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In another bowl combine the yogurt, vanilla, and lemon zest. In a stand mixer, cream together the butter and both sugars. Add eggs one at a time and beat well. Alternate adding the flour mixture and the yogurt mixture, mixing slowly, starting and ending with flour. When the batter is smooth, spread it in the greased 13×9 inch pan. Top with fruit, followed by the topping mixture you made earlier. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes. Use a wooden toothpick to test for doneness. Serve warm.



Pi Day Cupcakes

March 13, 2011

Lesson for the future: Photograph first, then taste test, then blog

With Pi Day as good excuse to celebrate, we had a little gathering over the weekend to enjoy pie and other circular foods with friends. I went a little overboard in the menu planning, but had a lot of fun with ideas. I ended up omitting a few recipes, everybody was well-fed, and we still had delicious leftovers.

The unused ingredients will serve me well at lunchtime in the coming week. Alas, my children do not yet appreciate the beauty of cucumber sandwiches, but I will enjoy them nonetheless.

While I was shopping I discovered some adorable polka dotted cupcake liners I just couldn’t pass up. Neither muffins nor cupcakes were part of the original menu, but I thought I could find a way to work them in. Though I ran out of time on the day of the party, I did manage to make cupcakes on Sunday afternoon. I had just enough to enjoy with my family and to fill the container some friends had left behind the day before.

The recipe I chose is one I remember fondly from my childhood. We called them Birch Hall Cupcakes. The texture is more like a brownie than a cake. Rather than make them exactly as written, I decided to play with the flavors a bit, adding cinnamon and orange extract.

Without further ado, here is the recipe.

Pi Day Cupcakes

  • 4 ounces semisweet chocolate
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped pecans
  • 1 3/4 cups sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon orange extract
  • 1 cup all purpose flour

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. In a double boiler, melt the chocolate and butter together. In a medium mixing bowl, beat the eggs with a wire whisk. Stir in the pecans and sugar. Add cinnamon, vanilla, and orange extract. Stir in the chocolate and butter mixture. Stir in the flour. Scoop into paper lined muffin tins and bake for 25 minutes. Makes 24 cupcakes.