It’s hard to say when it happened exactly. But at some point, Chef fell madly in love; some might say addicted, even. In return, I began withholding—knowing that just a taste every so often would make him want it more. Of course, I’m talking about my Grandma Tommie’s Sour Cream Coffee Cake, just one in my treasure trove of East Texas recipes that make an appearance on special occasions. Honestly, I’m not at all sure that the Sour Cream Coffee Cake is one of my grandmother’s favorites—I don’t really remember her making it. But the recipe was given to me in a bundle from my sister Paige years ago, and well, it just makes a better story here in Yankee land.
Like I said, I don’t pull out the white trash stops too often. And in the early years of my relationship with Chef, an intimidating true foodie, I kept them hidden. So I’m sure the Sour Cream specialty first debuted at a long ago Thanksgiving when our house was filled with visitors, and I knew just what to make to keep the hordes happy in the morning. From the first bite of moist goodness of sugar, sour cream, eggs, flour, with layers of pecans covered in cinnamon, and of course, more sugar, Chef was hooked.
Grandma Tommie’s Sour Cream Coffee Cake
For no real reason, and despite the ease of the cake, I insist on making it only one time a year—the Sunday before Thanksgiving. Over time, I’ve steadily resisted to making modern changes. Grandma Tommie wouldn’t have known what to make of the Vegan Organic Sugar I used last year, and I wasn’t convinced it made the cake any better. A few years back, to spice things up, I shelled out a fortune to an antique dealer in Fairhope, Alabama and carted home a turn-of-the-century copper bundt pan as a special gift for Chef. He could have cared less—it’s all about the cake, stupid. [note: Chef never verbalized this, just my own imagination a riff on Bill Clinton's winning campaign mantra]
This year, for one of the first times, there are no guests in our house. But I’m still whipping up the oh-so-thick batter. Because if I held out any longer, Chef might go looking elsewhere.
For the batter:
1 cup soft butter
2 cups sugar
1 cup sour cream
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
1 ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup ground pecans
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon
Preheat over to 325 degrees. Beat butter and sugar well. Add eggs, beating after each one. Add sour cream and vanilla. Add dry ingredients and beat well. This will make a very heavy batter. Grease a bundt pan. Mix topping ingredients together. Pour, more likely, spoon less than half of the batter into pan. Sprinkle with half of the topping mix. Add remaining batter and then remaining topping. Bake for 45 minutes at 325 degrees or until toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool briefly and invert on to a cake plate.