In which I try to get official commentary about the heritage of this recipe, but fail.
Happy Thanksgiving! On this very busy morning, I thought it might be nice to put something warm in your belly to prep you for the upcoming feast. Besides, on the days you don’t have to go to work, when you are going to be in the kitchen anyway, how hard is it really to whip up a coffeecake while you sip your coffee? We turn our heat down at night, so it’s really nice to have the oven on and hot coffee while the house is waking up. I have no idea what makes this coffeecake Syrian as opposed to any other nationality. I keep meaning to ask my colleague, but never have the recipe with me at work. I expect it’s got something to do with the cinnamon. Or perhaps is just called Syrian because someone thought it sounded fancy. I love this coffeecake. It’s cinnamony and nutty with a sort of firm crust underneath the cake. The pecans add such a beautiful crunch to it. It’s simple and basic, but completely wonderful.
I wish I had some sort of great story that went along with this cake. I think I just made it on an ordinary day when I had time. It did make that day a little more special.
Syrian Coffee Cake
Blend 2 cups of brown sugar, 2 cups of flour, and 1/2 cup or margarine together until it resembles coarse crumbs.
Put half of the crumbs into a 9″ square pan.
Stir 1 egg, 1 tsp nutmeg, 1 cup sour cream and 1 tsp baking soda into the remaining crumbs and pour into pan. Sprinkle on 1/2 cup of nuts. Bake at 350 for 35-40 minutes.
Nicholas requested an Apple Pecan pie for his birthday. At first it was a pumpkin, apple, pecan pie, or pumpkin pecan. I started suspecting him of just throwing things out there to see what he could get away with asking. Finally he settled on Apple Pecan. He had also requested chicken pot pie as an entree. That kid loves pie so much we call him 3.14. (not really).
He also loves his birthday. He starts getting excited about a month before. He counts down and after we get through Caroline’s birthday, he is nearly intolerable until his is over. I use the opportunity to relay his birth story to him. The day before I start out with “x number of years ago, I woke up at 6 AM and was sure that I was having a baby that day. I knew it could be a while so I went into work about 45 minutes away from home.” Around 10 AM, I tell him that my friends at work convinced me to go to the hospital. Throughout the day I update him on what was happening. I tell him about making dinner (black bean and corn pasta salad) and going to watch the Elvis impersonator up the street. I tell him how we went and hung out with some of our friends, during all of which I was contracting. I tell him how at around 10 PM we finally got to the hospital and then relay all of the events up to the emergency C-section the next morning (so much for my knowing that he was going to be born the morning before) and my first impressions of him. He loves the story almost as much as he loves pie.To make this pie I used a pie crust leftover from when I made Shrimp and Olive Pie. The recipe said the No-Fail Pie crust was good in the fridge for up to 2 weeks, so planning ahead (or laziness in not making another pie during that time period) meant I had pie crust ready to go. The apples on the trees were ripe, so that was taken care of. I assembled the pie without any problems. It’s easy. However, I did have a bit of a problem when it came to baking the pie. The recipe says to bake until a knife inserted into the center of the pie comes out clean. That never happened.
I had just enough time to bake the pie for the recommended amount of time before our friends came over and we went to an escape room. But the pie was still unset in the middle. I turned the oven off and figured that the heat may continue to cook the pie without burning it and that perhaps when we got home, it would be done. I tested it when we got home, but the knife didn’t come out clean. I restarted the oven, put foil around the crust so it wouldn’t burn, and baked it longer. The middle of the pie looked set, but the knife still had stuff on it when I stuck it into the pie.
I didn’t have time or ingredients to make another pie and I didn’t want to ruin Nick’s birthday, so I evaluated the entire situation and came to the conclusion that the pie was actually done, the eggs were cooked, it was fine. The knife was never going to come out clean, despite the pie being done. The crust was darker than I would’ve liked, the edges were more caramelized than I would’ve liked, but whipped cream hides a multitude of sins. This pie was incredible. It had all of the richness of pecan pie with a slightly oozy texture. The tartness of the apples cut through it just enough. The leftovers would have easily been gobbled up, but Nicholas wanted to share a slice with his dad. I don’t exactly understand how the mix-up happened, but his dad ended up with close to half a pie which he declared to be fantastic.
This recipe is one to hang onto.