Miss Rockwood's Coffee Cake

When things are really on my mind, there are two things I do: Cook and clean. If it’s a happy something on my mind, I cook. Frustrating, maddening, annoying, can’t-figure-it-out sorts of things, I clean. Cook and clean all together? Those grey cells are battling royally in my head, and I know I’ll be writing all night long.

I've discovered my sister and I share a cooking commonality: When kids are coming home or we need a sugar fix or love them lots and lots, we whip up Toll House Cookies (chocolate chip cookies to you Californians). Yes, with the whole bag of chips (long story). Mom used to make these and fill empty Maxwell House coffee tins and pop them into the freezer. Of course, we always knew they were there and just needed to put them into the edge of your mouth and blow on them to defrost. But she’d also send us back to college with a tin of them, feeling smug that the rest of the dorm hall wouldn’t go into our coffee stash when we weren’t looking. After the first month, you bet they did.

Then there’s Miss Rockwood’s Coffee Cake. My mouth has begun to water as the cinnamon sugar stirs in my brain. I can’t even type this. She made the BEST coffee cake around, and it had to be made a certain way or it didn’t come out right. Carole and I make the streusel and double the recipe when things are really not going well—half for the cake, half for us to wallow our pity into. There’s probably Kleenex next to the bins of flour and sugar. I’d say the streusel’s equally good on vanilla ice cream, but in reality, it’s good in a paper cup or on a spoon. Or on a finger that’s been dipped in the cake batter (my favorite). My kids have never been fond of nuts in things, but you need that to keep the streusel crumbly. Walnuts or pecans work well, but not on them, so one year I made it with oatmeal instead—wasn’t even trying to be healthier, just going for the texture and crumbliness. They loved it. Mom was horrified. It’s all about the butter, brown sugar and cinnamon, with something to keep it from all melting together. Like it really matters—I can bake one after dinner and it’ll be gone by the next morning even if I hide it when the kids go to bed.

So if you call me or Carole up and we say we’re not doing much, just whipping up one of Miss Rockwood’s Coffee Cakes, your first thought should be, “are you okay?” I’m not quite sure why we both, on opposite coasts, found this our recipe of comforting choice from our little adopted Grandmother, but it works. The sugary comfort food when smashed potatoes just doesn’t cut it, and you know the cookies are for sharing with friends.

Email me; I’ll send you the recipe!

Miss Rockwood’s Coffee Cake… best to just leave the spoon in it because you know you’ll be back!

Miss Rockwood’s Coffee Cake… best to just leave the spoon in it because you know you’ll be back!


What’s your go-to comfort food? Comment below and share!

Adele GillisComment