Myla, God rest her soul, was my dear friend Beth's mother, an indefatiguable gardener, a fierce card player, an unflappable midnight sandwich maker. She was the favorite of all my friends' moms, just for being so funny and so easy to talk to.
She was also an amazing cook with a huge repertoire of recipes of maximum deliciousity. A few weeks back, I wanted to make a sour cream coffee cake like Myla's, and I knew I had her recipe. It was written, however, on an old-fashioned 3x5 recipe card and stuck down out of order in my old-fashioned Longaberger recipe basket. Honestly, I just didn't feel like digging around for it, so I found a recipe for sour cream coffee cake on a website I trust. It sounded a lot like Myla's, until I got to the part where I had to put the batter in the tube pan. Then I knew something was very wrong, and later on when I served the cake, I was proved right. It wasn't even close to Myla's feather-light cake and I was gruesomely disappointed.
So today, I sat down with that recipe basket and dug through it until I found that 3x5 card, written out in Myla's own handwriting for me about twenty years ago -- I asked for it one night after Beth, Julie, Hoot and I stopped by late for a bite to eat and a game of Hearts. Myla served us coffee cake and grilled ham and cheese sandwiches and I was hooked.
The recipe is so old that the writing is almost obliterated, so I think I'd better copy it down while it's still legible. I'll think of Myla every time I make it.
MYLA'S SOUR CREAM COFFEE CAKE
1 cup butter
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups sifted flour (the sifting is very important)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup sour cream
"RIBBON" IN THE MIDDLE
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
Preheat the oven to 350o
In a medium mixing bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, beating well until combined; add the vanilla. Carefully sift in the dry ingredients, stirring them with a nice, slow spoon until dry ingredients are moistened. Tenderly fold in the sour cream. BE GENTLE, goshdarnit!
In a small bowl, prepare the "ribbon" topping.
In a 10" tube pan that has been sprayed with non-stick spray, carefully spoon half the batter. (I love writing sentences in the passive voice.) Gently spread the "ribbon" over all the batter, and then spoon in the rest of the batter. SLOWLY, FOR HEAVEN'S SAKE!
Place tube pan in oven with the tender care you'd use to place a sleeping baby into a bassinette and bake for 55-60 minutes. When you remove it from the oven, allow the cake to cool completely before trying to remove it from the pan. You might want to use a flat spatula to gently go around the inner edges of the tube pan to help unstick the cake, especially if your tube pan is fluted; it seems that no matter how much non-stick spray you use, this cake will still try to break your heart by clinging to the pan. I know this from painful experience.
Turn the cake out onto a pretty cake plate and sift some powdered sugar over it -- such a pretty cake! This is especially enjoyable with some hot Earl Grey or some cold iced tea. I think the flavor is too delicate for coffee, myself.
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