Weekend Meditation

Mother’s Day Cake and a Lullaby

updated Jul 22, 2019
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.
Post Image
(Image credit: Dana Velden)

In honor of Mother’s Day, this post is a simple offering of a lullaby and a favorite recipe from my own mum — one that reminds me of her every time I make it. And maybe a question to ponder: What nourishes you, and do you have enough of it?

For as long as I can remember, my mother has made sour cream coffee cake. As a child it always came with a glass of milk. Now it’s a cup of tea or occasionally a cup of coffee, whose strong and perfectly bitter flavor works so well with the sweet brown sugar and cinnamon.

So what nourishes here? There’s the cake, yes, and the memory. And the tie to my mother as strong as a sailor’s knot. There’s the thread of this cake woven through time, the way her hands are my hands, the way they hold the old wooden spoon that I stole from her drawer the last time I was home just so I could continue to hold … something. Some sense of belonging to her, which is equally as precious to me as my independence and autonomy.

I wasn’t planning on it, but maybe I’ll make this cake today.

My Mother’s Favorite Sour Cream Coffee Cake

Serves 10 to 12

1/2 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup butter, room temperature
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 cup sour cream
2 teaspoons vanilla

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Butter and flour a bundt or tube pan and set aside. Make the filling by combining the brown sugar, cinnamon, and walnuts in a bowl and set aside. In a bowl, whisk the flour, salt, and baking powder and set aside.

Using a wooden spoon, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time, and then add the sour cream and vanilla and beat for about one minute. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add the flour mixture and stir until just incorporated. (The batter can of course be made with the help of an electric mixer, but then what purpose would the wooden spoon serve?)

Spoon half of the batter into the prepared pan. Using the back of a spoon, draw a slight indentation in the batter all the way around the pan and spoon on the filling, being as careful as possible to keep the filling centered in the middle of the batter. You won’t succeed in this, but do your best.

Spoon remaining batter over the top. Bake for about one hour. Remove the cake from oven and let cool in the pan for 15 minutes, and then invert onto a cooling rack. Can be made a day ahead if kept well-wrapped once cooled.

Serve with a cup of good coffee or a glass of cold milk.

Thanks, Mum, and happy day!

* * *

I hope you enjoyed this encore Weekend Meditation, originally posted in May 2010.