Angie said I couldn’t change anything on this recipe, clearly implying that I tinker with things. I do tinker with things. I’m a man, we tinker. It’s why the doorknob on the laundry closet wouldn’t come off in an apocalyptic meltdown. After two months of pulling it out of the door every time we tried to wash clothes, I “tinkered” with some NASA approved epoxy that required a Haz-Mat suit and had instructions for a Silkwood-style chemical scrub down in case it touched flesh. Call me crazy, but try and get that doorknob off..ain’t happenin’. There was zero tinkering with this yeast based, cherry and white raisin coffee cake, in part because it has the sacred status of being handed down from Angie’s Grandma Paddock, and in part but because it’s perfect; moist, sweet and fruity with structure that borders on pastry. The minor exception, which I swear is NOT a legitimate tinker, were the cherries. I don’t believe that maraschino cherries are a real food and Jake, our oldest, is allergic to red food dye. I substituted with frozen, fresh red tart cherries (fresh, fresh cherries are out of season here in Seattle) so Jake could enjoy his great-grandma’s recipe along with the rest of us. I also left the instructions and notes from Angie’s Mom, Marcia, completely intact, ergo roping her into being a guest blogger without her even knowing it. I did it for authenticity, I did for tradition, I did it so I didn’t have to write as much. See? Not a hint of tinkering.
Grandma Paddock was one of the strongest people I’ve ever met. Confined to a wheel chair with crippling arthritis, I don’t think I ever heard a negative word come out of her mouth, nor do I remember anything but her huge smile and how she always figured out a way to hold her great-grandkids when anyone else might have considered it impossible. Amazing woman.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees (f)/205 degrees (c). You’ll lower the oven to 350 degrees (f)/180 degrees (c) after the first 20 minutes of baking. Time: 20 minutes to assemble ingredients, 1 hour to rise (total) and 35 minutes to bake.
Spray two 9X5″ loaf/bread pans with non-stick canola oil spray and lightly flour them.
Soundtrack: We were listening to Of Monsters and Men, album: My Head is an Animal. An Indie band out of Iceland (I know, I double checked and that’s where they’re from…hey..so is Bjork and I love me some Bjork). This was an impulse buy album, something I do every few weeks to make sure I’m always looking for new bands and music to listen to. Honestly, I’m not sold on it yet, but sometimes it takes a few listens. My first impression is that there is a little Decembrists influence with a much more, maybe too much more, refined sound and production. Give it a listen online and decide for yourself…I’m still up in the air with them.
Ingredients and Directions for Yeast Mix:
1 pkg dry yeast (1 1/2 Tbsp.)
1/4c warm water
Mix warm water and yeast
Add 1 T flour and 1T sugar to yeast mixture (Big T is Tbsp, little t is tsp.)
(Set it aside it will start rising activity)
1 cup scalded milk
Scald milk – take off burner to cool
When lukewarm add yeast mixture and about ½ c of flour
Mix well (but do not beat it) and let RISE (sometimes it takes awhile especially if room is cool/cold. I usually cover the bowl with a towel and place it in a warm place away from drafts)
Rest of Ingredients:
2 (or More) cups flour
2 eggs (beat with fork)
1 C sugar
¾ t salt
11 T margarine or butter (melted)
1 t vanilla extract
1 t almond extract
Golden or regular raisins (amount as desired)
Maraschino cherries (Substituted fresh, frozen, red tart cherries) cut into pieces
1 T sugar
1 T margarine or butter (melted)
3 T flour
(double or triple this recipe for desired amount of topping) (we doubled)
Directions to Prepare batter:
Beat sugar, eggs til well mixed and creamed
Add melted butter or margarine, vanilla and almond
Add Flour and yeast mixture and mix
Add remaining flour (batter should be on the thicker side so if its loose add more flour)
Add raisins and cherries
Pour batter into loaf pans
Set pans aside to rise (again I cover them with a towel to keep them from drafts, etc)Once they have risen to the top of the pan sprinkle the topping on the batter.
**Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees and bake for 20 mins
Turn heat down to 350 and bake an additional 15 mins or
Until a toothpick comes out dry.
These are the best instructions I have…you know Grandma she was so used to making this cake she just knew what to do and how to do it. Truthfully, its always a surprise and experiment when I make the cake…sometimes it takes a long time to rise, etc. BUT IT’S ALWAYS GOOD!
I look forward to hearing about your experiences and any tid bits you can give me to improve my experience baking this family treasure. Hope you enjoy it. (Marcia)