Every summer, a group of friends and I head up to a cabin in Wisconsin for a much needed, long awaited weekend of … not a hell of a lot. That’s the whole point. It’s a uniquely nutty place that I’ve come to really enjoy, despite the fact that the plumbing is rather unusual, the weather usually stinks and I turn into a complete slug. In fact, we’ve created our own verb to describe the trip. We go “cabining” and it is fantastic.
The cabin belongs to a good friend and her family and is a bit of a mish mosh like most vacation homes. It’s very comfortable though her Dad never forgets to remind us that it’s “a hunting cabin, not a girly cabin.” (With several antlers, a stuffed turkey and a rack of blaze orange gear how can we even imagine otherwise?) It is important to point out that he never seems to miss the weekend “Chicago” (as he call us) makes an appearance because the food is pretty damn good. Oh we can certainly rough it, though we choose not to when it comes to meals. This year, we toted along the waffle and ice cream makers, stopped at the New Glarus brewery on the way for SEVERAL cases of fine brew and dropped a pretty penny on some fancy pants cheeses. The kids can throw down. We might have to pee in an outhouse but we’ll have freshly churned strawberry ice cream after our lamb kebabs, most certainly.
Each of us takes on some important responsibility – menu planning, booze, music selection or brats (which are an entire category unto themselves.) Baked goods are usually my thing and this year I wanted to bring a coffeecake. They’re good nibblers, very tasty and great travelers. We nibble a lot at the cabin and the bacon overload that we call breakfast – at least a pound per day – could only be better with a side of sugar. A basic moist vanilla sour cream coffeecake with a cinnamon swirl and a handful of fresh raspberries would be perfect. Topped off with just the right amount of sugary white icing, we had a winner. Perfection.
So adios Summer. Though I’m not entirely sure you ever made an appearance anyway. You were so dang flighty and I’m already looking forward to next year, thinking about what to bring to the cabin. I have one request though. Please, please no rain. I’d like to get out in the canoes at least one of these summers. The crappy weather is really getting on my last nerve.
STRESS BAKING THERAPY FACTOR: HIGH. C’mon. Anything baked in a bundt pan is good for the soul. Plus this makes the car smell absolutely fantastic on a long roadtrip. Bonus points for aroma therapy.
SOUR CREAM COFFEECAKE
Makes one 9” bundt cake
This cake is extremely versatile- use any kind of fresh, frozen or dried berries, apples, pears or skip the fruit entirely and add some extra nuts to the swirl.
for the cinnamon swirl:
½ cup light brown sugar
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
¼ cup unsalted butter, cold (2 oz or ½ stick)
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
for the cake batter:
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
½ teaspoon kosher salt
½ cup unsalted butter, room temp (4 oz or 1 stick)
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla paste (or extract)
¼ cup sliced almonds
1 pint fresh raspberries
for the glaze:
1 cup powdered sugar
1/8 teaspoon almond extract
1-2 Tablespoons milk or cream
- In a medium bowl, combine the swirl ingredients rubbing the butter between your fingers until fully combined. Put in the refrigerator until you need it.
- Preheat the oven to 350°F and spray a bundt pan with cooking spray – make sure to get the center tube.
- For the cake, sift the dry ingredients – flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt – and set aside.
- In a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar on medium-high until light and fluffy.
- Add the eggs, one at a time, and the vanilla paste (or extract.) Scrape.
- Add the dry ingredients alternately with the sour cream, starting and ending with the dry. Scrape.
- Spray a 9” bundt pan well with cooking spray, making sure to get the center tube.
- Sprinkle the sliced almonds in the bottom of the pan.
- Top the almonds with about 1/3 of the batter, smoothing down.
- Crumble about half of the swirl mixture on the top the batter.
- Top with the raspberries, then with the remaining swirl mixture.
- Top the raspberry/swirl mixture with the remaining batter and smooth.
- Bake on the lower rack for 40 minutes until lightly golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean with moist crumbs.
- Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes then turn out of the pan and allow to cool completely.
- In a small bowl, combine the powdered sugar, the almond extract and 2 Tablespoons of milk. Mix to thoroughly combine – you want this icing pourable but quite thick – adjust with a little more milk or powdered sugar if needed.
- With the cake on a wire rack set over a piece of foil or parchment to catch the drips, use a fork or a spoon to drizzle the icing.
- Allow icing to dry completely before wrapping. Keep tightly covered for optimum freshness. Keeps, tightly wrapped, at room temperature for 3-4 days.