Christmas and Coffee Cake


The Christmas Coffee Cake that I bake every year and that is an annual Christmas-morning-in-between-opening-presents-tradition had to be moved up on the calendar this year. I couldn’t let Don leave for California without a few warm yummy pieces of coffee cake in his tummy. So I baked it on Saturday, put it in the refrigerator overnight (this step is essential) and warmed it up on Sunday morning. And again this morning.

Best coffee cake ever.

I only make it once a year. We decided it must be this way. Otherwise, it would no longer be special.

The story of the coffee cake: When we were living in California, we used to shop a lot at Whole Foods. (I’d still shop there a lot if one was nearby. Sob.) One day, I grabbed a free holiday recipes booklet at the checkout and took it home to peruse. This particular recipe looked promising, so I made it for Christmas morning.

A huge winner.

We couldn’t believe how yummy it was, how moist (due to lots of sour cream), how perfectly perfect it was. Our annual tradition began that day. Fast forward a few years. We moved to New York. As I got things ready for that first Christmas out East, I realized two things. We had inadvertently put all the boxes of Christmas ornaments in storage (all decorations that year came from the local drug store) and I couldn’t find this recipe. Anywhere. I looked through all my cook books. I scoured every box in the eaves. I looked everywhere. Nothing.

In a panic, I emailed Whole Foods. I explained my situation and what booklet I thought the recipe had been in and asked if they had a record of it somewhere. The lady I was in contact with looked everywhere. She had no record of it.

I explained to Don that there would be no coffee cake this year. There was disbelief on his part. On mine, too.

I resigned myself to finding something else, though I knew it could never be as special, as tasty, as magical. A few weeks later, I got an email from that same lady. She had been cleaning out some shelves and, lo and behold, there was the booklet. She kindly copied the recipe for me and sent it my way. I’ve hung onto it for dear life ever since.

We’ll have another piece this morning and then, later today, I take Don to the airport. He’ll be gone for two months.

Scoutie and I will miss him terribly. She adores Don. So do I.

It’s going to be a little glum around here for a few days.

Happy Monday.


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  1. says

    ooh, that coffee cake looks divine!!… and chance you would share the recipe? I love that the Whole Foods person remembered you and took the time to get the recipe to you. It’s those little things that make this world a better place.

    Girl time for you and Scout! Enjoy –

  2. says

    Coffee cake looks yummy! I have a special bread recipe I only make at Xmas– you’re right; makes it special. Don’t get too lonely there!!!

  3. Debra says

    Oh, Claudia. You have to share the recipe after that special story. Now I NEED a piece of that coffee cake. It looks divine.

  4. says

    I have a very special coffee cake that I bake every year – only for Christmas – as well. It has sour cream in it, also, and it is from an old 1950’s or 60’s Knudsen cook- booklet. Our mother used to bake it and then I just kind of took over the tradition. I used to make sure all family members had one at their own houses for Christmas morning, but then I got to a point where I simply couldn’t keep up with that any more. Now I make sure to take one to whichever home is hosting Christmas dinner that year, so they can at least have some later in the day!
    Yours certainly looks delicious,Claudia! And I’m so glad you were able to get your recipe back!

    • Claudia says

      That’s so generous of you! What a great idea to take it with you for others to enjoy, Heidi Ann! Coffee cake is sinfully good, isn’t it?

  5. says

    I love traditions like this! Makes them even more special when we look forward to them. I’ll look for the recipe later this week. I know you will miss Don! You and Scout can cuddle and keep busy while he is gone!
    Big Hugs, Linda

    • Claudia says

      I certainly have stuff to do here! Time to sort through messy closets and files and drawers and do some shredding!

  6. says

    Safe journey dear Don……………we’ll try to keep Claudia busy by inundating her with bloggy stuff and nonsense while you’re away!
    Claudia, I think you should plan to bake that good coffee cake one more time BEFORE next Christmas – like early in the New Year when you celebrate Don’s arrival home – he’ll be ready for your great home cooking and baking by then!

    Love and blessings for the holidays – distance won’t change all that you two dear ones share.

    Mary X

  7. Dottie in Missouri says

    Will be thinking of you and your girl there alone and hope for a good winter! You will get lots of cuddle time! Two months of work will help your finances I hope! May be good for that wish list.

  8. says

    That looks like the coffee cake my mother always made. It was special. I can’t eat it now because of the gluten. I wish that I lived closer so that we could visit while your hubby is gone. Two months is a long time. But I am glad that it is a job. Oh the sacrafices we take to be able to pay bills……that is supposed to be funny.
    I was ready about the children’s families and I am pretty sure I could recognize the family you knew. It is hitting harder for me because of the children’s little faces being shown and their ages. Since I have three 6 year old grandchildren. ANd those teachers……so so sad.
    Have you ever seen the TV show, A dog with a Blog. We had an 9 year old over the week-end that watched the show. The dog reminds me of yours. It’s a kids show but I thought it was cute.
    ((((((HUGS)))) for you today and always.

    • Claudia says

      I wish you did, too, Debby. I know we’d have fun together.

      Seeing the faces of those children is heartbreaking, as is hearing the stories of the heroic teachers who lost their lives.

      I saw the name “A Dog with a Blog” when I was channel hopping. I’ll have to check it ou! xo

  9. GinaE says

    Looking forward to the recipe post. All the coffee cake recipes I’ve tried often don’t have much flavor and are dry. I’ll love to have your recipe in my collection!

  10. Donnamae says

    There is a big problem with this post…I didn’t get the link for the recipe! You show us a beautiful picture of coffee cake and no recipe? Care to share?? I’m sure this will be a difficult Christmas for you…the nice part of Skype, is that I don’t think there is a time limit! ๐Ÿ˜‰

  11. says

    This tradition was definitely meant to be! I’d love to try your recipe…sour cream! I’m sure that’s the key!


    • Claudia says

      I think, if I remember correctly, it calls for a cup of sour cream. Or more. Anyway, I know it’s what keeps it so moist.

  12. says

    OK I just have to say, what an awesome story!! and that cake? Well that cake just looks delicious! Im SO happy you’re going to be sharing that recipe. Id like to make it this year.. What a wonderful tradition you have!

  13. Carol Killian says

    Greetings from middle TN,
    I am sorry that Don will be gone. Please post your coffee cake recipe. I am baking sweet potato and squash bread this a.m.—cookies this p.m. What is better than flour, sugar, and pecans? These baked goods are for others. Of course, Phil and I have to sample the goodies. Have a merry Monday.

  14. says

    Looking forward to that recipe; maybe I can make it vegan somehow.

    I’m sure you and Scout will have to trouble finding somethig interesting to do!


    • Claudia says

      I bet you could make it vegan – with an egg substitute and, obviously, something in place of sour cream – maybe applesauce?

  15. Belinda says

    What a wonderful story! I hope that your and Scouts time away from Don will pass quickly for all of you. I know how hard it can be to have your love away especially through the holidays. Lots of cuddling and hot beverages must occur to pass the time and of course a good read. Have a blessed day Claudia.

  16. says

    That looks yummy! Please share the recipe with us. My mom found a wonderful recipe in the Los Angeles Time food section in the sixties or seventies, its heavenly. It’s made with sour cream too and you put half the batter in the pan and then layer half of the streusel mixture and repeat – so it has this super yummy tunnel of moist buttery sugary nuts in the center. Nummers!

    So sorry your hubby is going to be gone for so long and for the holidays! I wish we could go see him at the Globe, that would be so much fun but with a very sick doggie, we’re limited to local events. (We saw Cymbeline yesterday at the Broad in Santa Monica.)

    Happy week to you and Scout!

    • Claudia says

      Same thing with this recipe, Sally. Except you put all the batter in, then half of the streusel, which you swirl into the batter, then you top it off with the rest of the streusel.

      Wish you could see Don! How is your sweet dog doing, Sally?

      • says

        I will have to try swirling next time! ๐Ÿ˜‰

        Thank you for asking. Georgie is hanging in there – we took him for his follow up ultra sound on his two masses and blood clot yesterday – the Internist was visibly surprised that the blood clot had shrunk a teensie bit. George is happy and comfortable, I am so grateful to wake up to another day with him.

  17. marcy ray says

    Please let us share your treasured recipe with others…..thank you, Claudia. I enjoy your blog so very much, it is like a personal note from a gifted writer, every day. You have many talents!

  18. says

    That looks so delicious. Wonder if I can make it with my gluten free flour. I know that you will miss Don. Two months is a long time, but think of all the scarves you will be able to crochet and sell, and of course, we are always here for you.


  19. tracy says

    I love the story…..and only wish you could share it together on Christmas this year with your sweetie. I’m lousy without my guy….hope the time goes quickly, though at our age, we shouldn’t wish away the days;-) I need a cake like I need a hole in my head, but I’m betting it’s pretty darn good so I’ll be watching for the recipe as well. Thanks you Claudia.

  20. says

    I love traditions like that, Claudia. Each Christmas morning I have cocoa from my Grandmother’s Johnson Brothers Christmas tree mug. In time, it will be handed down to my child. As for baking, there are several items I make only at Christmas: Spritz cookies (with a press), chocolate fudge, and cranberry walnut pie.

  21. says

    Claudia, I am saddened that you and Don will have to be apart for so long, but just imagine when you get to see each other again!

    And what a great coffeecake, looking forward to seeing the recipe.


  22. says

    Mmm, the coffee cake looks delicious. What is that on top of the coffee cake though? Butter? I didn’t realize Don would be gone for so long. I know you’ll miss him terribly. Good thing you have Scout to keep you company!

  23. says

    Now…you must share that recipe with us! :)
    I love traditional recipes…
    two months is a very long time and when you miss your beloved so terribly, it seems even longer. Though you will be alone with Scout, I hope your holiday is still a wonderful one!

  24. Rebya Falk says

    Claudia, My husband was in the Air Force for 20 years…Itis still noteasy for you two to be apart. I feel on your blog that you two have a strong relaionship. We do also after almost 50 years. I read you and Cozy Little House daily.

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