Sunday, January 19, 2014

Marshall Field's sour cream cranberry coffee cake

Anything that begins with two sticks of melted butter and then moves on to sour cream, pecans, cranberries, and cinnamon is going to be good.

The recipe comes from The Marshall Field's Cookbook, which is a fairly new (2006) publication  filled with Field's restaurant standbys plus more trendy ideas from still-hip food people like Andrea Immer Robinson, Marcus Samuelsson, Tyler Florence, and Charlie Trotter. But the book has already been rendered retro by the absorption of Chicago's stately old Marshall Field's department store into plain vanilla, one-size-fits-all New York Macy's. Are the Walnut Room, the giant Christmas tree, and Frango mints still the same? In our memories, perhaps. For myself I have a very early foodie memory associated with Marshall Field's. It's the vaguest possible recollection of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and a bowl of chicken soup, eaten at the Walnut Room when I was at most five, while mother and grandmother enjoyed more adult fare.

This coffee cake postdates my kindergarten lunch by a few decades. Elizabeth Brown, director of Field's menu development at the time of the cookbook's publication, was its source. Let's begin.


Sour cream cranberry coffeecake

For the cake: 

  • 1 cup butter (2 sticks), melted and slightly cooled
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 and 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/4 cup wheat germ (I didn't bother)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2 cups fresh or dried cranberries, chopped (I didn't bother chopping them, either)
For the filling:
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 Tbsp dark brown sugar
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Butter a 10 cup, fluted Bundt pan and set aside. (The instructions specify using a "non stick cooking spray" rather than butter to grease the pan, but, as with the wheat germ and the chopping of small berries -- why bother?)

Combine the melted butter, sugar, eggs, sour cream, and vanilla in a large bowl and mix well. Stir in the flour, (wheat germ), salt, and baking powder and mix until just combined. Do not overmix.

Fold in the cranberries.

In a separate bowl, combine the pecans, brown sugar, and cinnamon and toss to mix well.

Pour half the batter into the Bundt pan. Sprinkle on the nut mixture ...

... and then layer on the remaining batter. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, until firm and golden brown on top. Let cool for 10 minutes before inverting onto a plate.

Completely wonderful. I can promise you won't even miss the wheat germ.

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