French Coffee Cake

st therese childWhen I was a little girl, I was much more interested in reading, writing, and all things religious than I was in housekeeping or the culinary arts. However much my mother tried to impart to me the benefits of proper measuring and vacuuming-after- dusting, her efforts for the most part did little to arouse my interest or curiosity. But this in no way dampened her enthusiasm to engage me in the arcane sciences of domesticity.

One such attempt became recorded on the back of a recipe. I was eight years old and Mother was making a French Coffee Cake. I sat perched upon the kitchen counter top amid the cooking paraphernalia and ingredients – measuring spoons and cups, mixing bowls and mixer, baking dish and spatula, flour, oleo, sugar, eggs, vanilla, cinnamon, brown sugar and more.

Mother passed me the red handled nut chopper laden with walnuts, told me to “Chop,” and patiently began her explanation of “leveling,” “creaming,” “combining,” and “mixing.” I finished my chore in quick fashion, and with the most exciting part of my participation completed, idly began to finger the blue-lined tablet sheet on which the coffee cake recipe was written. Mother turned on the mixer, explaining a bit about the different speeds, and with its pleasant whir a hum of ideas filled my head.

stthereseOn that particular day, I was full of thoughts about Saint Therese of Lisieux, the Little Flower. Sister Mary Euphemia called her “Theresa” and had spoken about her so beautifully I felt like I knew her intimately. Most of all, I liked Sister’s stories about Saint Therese and the roses. Sister had said that Saint Therese would send roses to people who asked for her intercession to let them know she had heard their prayer. I wondered if Saint Therese would send a rose to me, what kind of a rose it would be, and what prayer I should pray to receive a rose from her bouquet.

Mother’s explanations blended with the mixer’s whir and folded into my mental meanderings and, somewhere between the lesson on preheating the oven and sliding the baking dish into its warmed interior (“Always with pot holders, mind you.”), I began to write a poem to the Little Flower on the back of the coffee cake recipe I now had resting in my hand.

Some years ago, Mother found this browned and tattered recipe in her yellow and red Betty Furness Westinghouse Cookbook. Positioned on fading blue lines and written in large block letters with a slightly left-handed back slant, some of the verses of my poem can still be read. I keep it in one of my prayer journals now, a quiet reminder of the faith of a child who still believes that roses will come.

Shower Me with Roses
Saint Theresa shower me with roses,
Shower me with roses of grace,
So that my soul might shine like white lace.

Saint Theresa shower me with roses,
Shower me with roses each day,
So that with God I may stay.

Saint Theresa shower me with roses,
Shower me with roses I pray, 
So that I keep God’s laws as I play.

Saint Theresa shower me with roses,
Shower me with roses until I die,
So that my soul to God might fly.

French Coffee Cake

Batter:

Step One:
In a mixing bowl, cream together the following ingredients:
½ Cup of Margarine
1 Cup Sugar
3 Eggs Beaten
1 Tsp of Vanilla

Step Two:
In a mixing bowl, combine the following ingredients:
2 Cups of Pre-sifted Flour
1 Tsp. Baking Powder
1 Tsp. Baking Soda
½ Tsp. Salt
8 oz. Sour Cream
Add this mixture to the creamed ingredients and mix on medium speed or “mix setting.”

Filling and Topping:

Mix the following ingredients:
2 Tbs. Softened Butter
¾ Cup Brown Sugar
1 Cup Chopped Walnuts
3 Tbs. Flour

Pour ½ of the Batter into a 2 ½ Quart lightly greased baking dish.

Spoon ½ of the Filling and Topping mixture onto the Batter, distributing evenly with a spatula.  Sprinkle ½ Tsp of cinnamon (or to taste) on top of filling.Then pour the remaining Batter into the baking dish. Spoon the remaining filling and topping mix on the top of the Batter.  Sprinkle ½ Tsp of cinnamon (or to taste) on top of topping. Bake French Coffee Cake at 350 º for 35-45 minutes testing with a toothpick.

Below are pictures from The Magnificat Day which took place this past weekend in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.  It was a beautiful day in which we celebrated the graces of the “Year of Faith” with great speakers, holy mass, music and prayer.  One of the highlights of the day was the opportunity to venerate the relics of St. Therese of Lisieux and her parents, Blessed Louis and Zelie Martin.  What a tremendous blessing!

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