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March 14, 2013 / theyellowbungalowla

sweet resolutions.

I’m the kind of person who gets really excited about writing New Year’s resolutions (yes, that is your cue to start teasing me).  To me, there’s nothing like starting fresh in January with a new outlook and a list of goals to strive for over the course of the new year.

In addition to the obligatory promises (“I promise to go to the gym more”), I incorporate a few resolutions that have more to do with fun than they do with self-improvement.  For instance, I love classical music.  More accurately, I love the idea of being in love with classical music: accomplished musicians playing intricate pieces that elicit great emotion…what’s not to like?  One challenge: I have no idea what I’m listening to, who wrote it, or why it’s important.  And while none of those things stand in the way of my enjoyment of a particular piece, I suspect that knowing some of that information may enhance my experience.  So a couple of years ago, my resolution was to focus on one composer, learning a little about them and their key pieces.  I have no idea why I chose Beethoven but I’m guessing that it was the first composer that came to mind.  So for that year (and then a couple more), Beethoven shared space between Kings of Leon and Taylor Swift and the other popular music playing during those years.  And now I can (proudly) identify a couple of pieces by Beethoven.  Resolution success…even though it took slightly longer than I anticipated.

After my success in the music arena, it seemed natural to extend my “fun resolutions” into a food category.  I love to eat, love to cook, and as you already know, love setting New Year’s resolutions.  Baking is an area of cooking that I’m not as well-versed in, so I decided to focus my efforts there, and after a quick mental scroll through my favorite sweet treats, I settled on coffee cake.  Yep, I love coffee cake.

I grew up eating a lot of coffee cake.  My family is Danish on both sides, and what you need to know about the Danes, besides the fact that they are tall and generally quite friendly, is that they love their pastry.  My family was no exception, and you could count on a coffee cake at just about any family gathering, whether it involved brunch or not.  I think most people think of coffee cake as a breakfast or brunch food, as the name suggests (it’s not “birthday” cake,” it’s called “coffee” cake).  Lucky for me, my family did not see coffee cake as solely a breakfast food.   We enjoy our coffee cake at almost any time of day: breakfast, mid-morning snack, afternoon snack, pre-bedtime snack.   It was accompanied by…you guessed it…a cup of coffee.  My grandparents on my father’s side, the Lauritzens, were quite dedicated to this routine and enjoyed a cup of coffee and a sweet treat each and every day.

The challenge is that there is not nearly enough coffee cake currently present in my life.  If you asked me right now where to get a good coffee cake, I would have no idea what to tell you.  If you asked me to bake you a great coffee cake, again, I’d come up short. Many factors have contributed to my current quandary, including my location.  I no longer live in the small town that I grew up in, also home to a tiny bakery that bakes fantastic coffee cake.  If I lived there, I would get in the car and drive for approximately 6 minutes and 30 seconds and would be mere moments from enjoying one of my favorite treats.

My deficient baking skills are another major barrier to coffee cake bliss. As you already know (based on my resolution), baking is not my forte, so I don’t even have a “go-to” coffee cake recipe that I can rely on, or dedicate an afternoon to experiment with.  In my recipe stacks, I found 8 coffee cake recipes that I’ve pulled from various articles: cherry-almond coffee cake, pecan coffee cake, cinnamon-sugar streusel coffee cake, and five others.  I have not yet tried any of them, but all of that is about to change.

They say, whoever “they” are, that when you share your resolutions and goals with those around you, you’re more likely to succeed.   So here I am sharing my commitment to coffee cake: to finding it, to baking it, and you can surely bet that I’m going to be eating more of it in 2013.  Stay tuned!

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