Tidings of Comfort

Food blogging is like the ultimate dinner party. There’s great food, good conversation, a connection between people with similar interests. There’s a kind of sharing that you just don’t seem to find on other blogs. What better way to say “hey, I like you!” than with a heaping plateful of pasta or delectable layer cake. Food makes others feel welcome. In real spaces and virtual ones as well.

I’ve been reading some blogs for four years or more and I love describing them to people who’ve never seen them. “This is so-and-so’s blog,” I’ll say. “She lives here, does this and likes that. She makes the most amazing <layer cakes, Mexican food, meat-free eats, sugar cookies> ” The little details you glean from a few paragraphs, photos and recipes makes you feel like you’ve known someone forever, even if you’ve never met. Sharing in the excitements of accomplishments or the joys of new babies makes it feel like there’s always a friend celebrating. It’s great to share in those moments.

But sometimes, life gets tough. That’s when the blogging community really comes together.

One of my very favorite bloggers, Annie over at Annie’s Eats, posted over the holiday weekend that she lost her father suddenly and unexpectedly on Thanksgiving day. My heart just broke for her and her family. How devastating. Many times over the course of that weekend while in the company of family and friends, my thoughts turned to Annie and her family. I wished there was something I could do to help. Even though we’re strangers, I feel like I know Annie. I think that’s what makes her such a amazing blogger.

So I made a cake. To dedicate and share with a blogger who is restless and hurting. A cake filled with the simple goodness of sugar and butter and cinnamon. The kind of cake to eat in the morning when house is quiet but thoughts are noisy and raw, stinging like icy winter sleet. When the world is washed in the gray-blue shadows of dawn that just don’t seem to brighten. The kind of cake a friend would bring to the doorstep of another who needed it, complete with hot coffee, patience and time. The kind of cake to talk over. Or sit quietly over. To grieve over. Maybe even laugh over. The kind of cake that may taste like a happy memory.

If I could, I would bring a cake like this one to Annie and her family. It’s rich, warm and satisfying. It tastes like a hug with a thick layer of crunchy cinnamon crumbs blanketing a buttery yellow cake. There’s no intricate steps, no fancy ingredients, just plain good food. It’s the kind of cake that can be made quickly, delivered promptly and enjoyed while still warm from the oven. Perfect for a friend in need.

Annie, we’re all thinking of you, praying for you and wishing you peace and comfort during this time. Hugs and cakes to you.

NEW YORK STYLE CRUMB CAKE (Recipe Source: Baked Explorations: Classic American Desserts Reinvented by Matt Lewis & Renato Poliafito)


For the topping:

  • 1 cup packed golden brown sugar
  • ½ cup white granulated sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 ½ tablespoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted (oh yes, TWO STICKS. Faint)
  • 2 ½ cups unbleached all purpose flour

For the cake:

  • 2 ½ cups unbleached all purpose flour
  • ¾ teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 12 tablespoons (1 ½ stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 ½ cups white granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 ¼ cups sour cream


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F and with the oven rack in the center. Grease the bottom and sides of a 9 x 13 glass baking dish.
  2. Make the topping: Combine sugars, salt and cinnamon in a medium bowl. Pour the melted butter and whisk until combined, crushing any large lumps. Stir in flour until mixture is uniform. Set aside until ready to use.
  3. Make the cake: Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl.
  4. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, cream the butter on medium speed until smooth. Scrape down the bowl and add sugar, then continue to beat until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating for 30 seconds  and scraping down the side of the bowl after each addition. Add sour cream and vanilla and beat until just combined. Stir in the flour in thirds, scraping the sides of the bowl before each addition, until fully incorporated. Batter will be thick.
  5. Pour the batter into buttered pan, level with a spatula. Scoop a handful of the topping mix into your hand, make a fist, and break off pieces to crumble the topping over the batter. Repeat until all the topping is used. Crumble topping will be very thick.
  6. Bake for 45-55 minutes or until a toothpick entered into center comes out clean, rotating the pan twice. Cool in the pan on a wire rack for 30 minutes before serving.



1 Comment

Filed under breakfast, cakes

One response to “Tidings of Comfort

  1. This is a beautiful post and a wonderful tribute for Annie, not to mention a delectable looking cake!!

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