When Kenny and I were dating and I was spending time in his Queens apartment for the first time, I would often look inside his refrigerator and freezer for a snack. Many times this ended in disappointment.
At first, it seemed that he had an adequate amount of junk food. In his freezer were a couple of pints of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream in flavors like Chubby Hubby and Phish food; in his refrigerator were cans of Sprite and Coke. This is a surprise I always hope to find when staying over at other people’s homes.
I suppose this goes back to childhood, when my mom, who has a sweet tooth, would always keep sugary foods around. At the very least – and because my mom is lactose-intolerant – we had tofu ice cream in mint ripple or chocolate, the best soy ice cream I’ve ever tasted to this day.
Now if I’m not staying in my own home or my childhood home, it comforts me to know that these same foods I grew up with are close by.
So in Kenny’s kitchen I remember opening the freezer one day, spoon already in hand, and grabbing a comforting pint of Chubby Hubby (which, in an interesting aside, has now been renamed Hubby Hubby in support of marriage equality). I expected the container to be sturdy, thanks to the frozen ice cream inside. But my fingertips pushed through the cardboard. There wasn’t much ice cream left.
No matter, I thought. I only wanted to taste a little bit anyway.
I popped opened the lid and looked inside to find…an empty container.
Completely empty. Maybe there was an overlooked dab of ice cream stuck to the edges, but those peanut butter pretzels and the fudge and peanut butter ripples? Those were gone.
You can imagine how sad I felt. This happened more than once.
Still, despite the initial disappointment, Kenny’s chilled empty containers didn’t really bother me. What a cute quirk, I eventually thought. After all, we were in the beginning stages of dating.
So how does coffee cake figure into this story? White cardboard boxes of Entenmann’s crumb coffee cake, the kind with the thick cinnamon crumble on top, were often one of the fun junk foods in Kenny’s refrigerator. Sometimes the boxes were empty; other times, blessedly, there was still a square of cake inside.
This all happened so long ago that I nearly forget about those empty containers. Then I came home from Ocean City this weekend to find two bright red cans of Coke, opened and hanging out on the top shelf of our refrigerator. Both had only drops of liquid left inside.
So it seems fitting that yesterday, when I felt like baking and I asked Kenny what type of dessert he felt like eating, he suggested coffee cake with a crumb coating.
The cake is sitting in a square pan in our refrigerator as I write this. After it’s gone, I’m tempted to leave the pan there, crumbs clinging to its sides, for him to find, just for old time’s sake.
Raspberry and lemon coffee cake with lemon crumb topping
From Baking Bites
The fresh, tangy raspberries and subtle lemon flavor are the two stars of this simple coffee cake.
I find that the raspberries sink to the bottom of the batter when baking. This is a nice surprise when the cake is done because, you have a couple of options when eating it. You can eat the cake straight up, slicing down through the crumb coating, cake, and raspberries to get a complete bite. Or you can slice the cake in half lengthwise and enjoy two different coffee cakes: one with a streusel topping, the other with a raspberry crust.
To make this version of coffee cake, I used Baking Bites recipe for lemon blackberry coffee cake with lemon streusel with a few small adjustments. Instead of using only 1 tablespoon of lemon zest each in the crumb coating and the cake, I used all of the zest from one large lemon for each component (so 2 lemons total).
The recipe also calls for 16 ounces of berries, which should be 2 cups. But 2 cups of berries for me was less than 12 ounces (yet another reason I should buy a kitchen scale). Still, I stuck to 2 cups of berries in this recipe, but I think you could add more.
Is there a dish or food that you had recently that brought back old memories? Tell us the story behind it.