Whew! It feels good to be back. I've been running -- literally -- all over the place for the past two weeks.
Matt's family visited for his "graduation" from Pitt two weeks ago. I say "graduation" because Matt's not totally done his program, but the light at the end of the tunnel is getting brighter every day. Commencement was lovely, and we had a fun weekend despite the damp weather. The highlight had to be dinner at The Melting Pot. I recommend it for the ultimate playing-with-your-food dining experience!
The following week was filled with delicious dinners with longtime friends (Dish = fabulous, fellow Pittsburghers!), running, no-longer-neglected errands, and serious amounts of pasta. I take training for and running in races very seriously :)
So, once I finally took a minute to stop and
And I certainly haven't stopped baking. In fact, I've gone back to my sugar and butter-coated roots.
The same roots that lured in that husband of mine. The roots of sour cherry trees, to be exact.
As I've mentioned
Somehow I managed to marry a guy who is equally smitten with the little red gems. So enamored that, when I make a cherry pie, he... pouts.
Yes, ladies and gentlemen, he pouts. What an ungrateful, sonofab----, right?
You see, Matt loves cherries, namely cherry pie, so very much. At first, he's over the moon with excitement when he sees a pie crust chilling in the fridge because he knows he's only a few hours away from his own dessert Heaven.
But then, the depression hits. It creeps in when he realizes that we're usually having friends over to share said pie with us.
"I don't want to share it."
"Matt, we can't eat this entire pie ourselves."
"Says you, woman."
(Yes, this is really how we talk to each other.) I thought I could avoid the depression by making something a little different. Something that we couldn't possibly finish ourselves.
Thankfully, when family and friends are around, we play nicely. In fact, I made this to celebrate Matt's graduation and, lo and behold, he shared and lived to tell about it! With both of our families, too.
I told him I was proud of him for having the sharing abilities of a kindergartener. Apparently, a Master's degree does not an adult make, friends.
But sour cherries in a light and fluffy coffee cake make one heck of an anytime treat. We had it for breakfast, nibbled it around lunchtime, and for dessert after dinner. There's something about that crumbly streusel topping that is irresistible. And I love how the band of moist cherries isn't visible until you cut into the cake. It's a total -- and delicious -- surprise. Slightly tart cherries with a subtly sweet cake. Bliss!
Food surprises are the best kind of surprises, after all.
Like the sweet surprise Matt had waiting for me at the finish line this past weekend for the marathon relay: a package of Lofthouse sugar cookies. A dozen cookies seemed like a perfect reward for running 5.5 miles. But, like a nice girl, I shared them. I'm practically a saint, don't you think?
Two years ago: Chocolate pound cake
Sour Cherry Streusel Coffee Cake
(adapted from the recipe in Martha Stewart's Baking Handbook)
A few notes: This is the perfect kind of cake to just "have around" for when friends drop by unexpectedly. It was so pretty that I decided to display it in my cake dome and use as a centerpiece on the dining room table. Who needs flowers when you have cake?
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pan
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup sour cream
2 cups frozen sour cherries, thawed and drained well
For streusel topping:
1/2 cup + 1 Tablespoon all-purpose flour
3 Tablespoons light brown sugar
Heaping 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 Tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
For milk glaze drizzle:
1 cup powdered sugar
2 Tablespoons milk
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Butter a 9-inch tube pan; set aside. In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt; set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter, sugar, eggs, and vanilla on medium speed until light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes.
Add the flour mixture in three parts, alternating with the sour cream and beginning and ending with the flour. Beat until just combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Spoon about two-thirds of the batter into the prepared pan. Arrange the cherries in a single layer on top of the batter; avoid placing any cherries against the pan's edge, as they may stick or burn if not fully encased in batter. Top with the remaining batter, making sure it is evenly distributed, and smooth with an offset spatula. Sprinkle streusel evenly over the top of the batter.
Bake until cake is golden brown and springs back when touched, 40 to 45 minutes. Transfer pan to a wire rack set over a rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment paper, and let cake cool 10 to 15 minutes. Invert cake onto rack, then re-invert (so streusel side is up), and let cool completely. Spoon glaze over the cake, letting it drip down sides. Let cake sit until glaze is set, about 5 minutes, before serving. Cake can be kept at room temperature, wrapped well in plastic, for up to 4 days.