we survived christmas!! not everything got done that i wanted done (but that involved tearing down a wall) but the dining room was set up nicely, there was way too much food for everyone (turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, shredded sweet potatoes with garlic and fresh sage, chestnuts braised in port, red peppers stuffed with fennel, and green beans), even if it was all a little overdone because someone didn't tell me three o'clock that our guests had confirmed that they would arrive at four (i had asked them to arrive at three for dinner at four), and then they didn't arrive till gone four-thirty anyway...
no matter! tg loved the gloves i knit him, baby siena's mum loved the hat and mittens i knit for her, everyone was suitably impressed by the shelves, and more importantly, our guests did all the dishes! and we have enough leftovers i won't have to cook for days.
and speaking of leftovers, i almost forgot the best part: when we were little, we used to always have a sara lee frozen pecan coffee cake on christmas morning. after going without for decades, a bought one maybe five years ago, and... it was foul. it tasted like aluminum with a sprinkling of vanillin and msg. so after failing to google anything that looked right to me, i freestyled a recipe and was extremely pleasantly surprised with the results - not least because i have had no success with yeast-raised things in years, not counting the nyt no-knead bread. so i was thrilled that it rose at all, more thrilled with how puffy and light and moist it was, and also thrilled with the taste (the proof of the pudding being in the eating).
so here is my recipe:
christmas morning pecan coffee cake
1/2 cup warm water
3/4 tsp white sugar
1/4 oz yeast (one package)
2 1/4 cups flour
1/4 cup white sugar
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup butter, melted
2 tbs soft butter
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
1 cup pecan halves
2 tbs flour
milk for brushing
2 tbs soft butter
1/2 cup icing sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
2 TBS milk
dissolve sugar in warm water in a bowl. sprinkle yeast over and allow to sponge (about 10 minutes).
combine flour and sugar in a large bowl. make a well in the centre. pour in yeast mixture.
beat egg together with milk and pour it into the flour as well. stir together, add melted butter, and stir until well combined. cover with greased waxed paper (or a butter wrapper) and set in a warm place to double in bulk (about two hours).
meanwhile, make topping by creaming together the butter and sugar. put 3/4 cup of pecans (save the rest for decoration) in a food processor with the flour and pulse until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs, then add to the bowl with the sugar and butter and mix together.
punch down the dough, dump out on a floured board, and knead for five minutes, until dough feels silky. add more flour if necessary, but it should be quite soft.
roll out into a circle about 1/4 inch thick and 16 or so inches in diameter. make 12 cuts from the outside edge about 1/2 of the way to the middle.
lift the dough gently into a greased and floured pie plate or quiche dish. sprinkle topping in the middle. take one of the twelve strips of dough, twist it once, fold it in towards the centre of the plate, and sprinkle with topping. repeat with remaining strips so they all overlap towards the centre. sprinkle with remaining topping and pecan halves. set in a warm place to rise until double (another two hours).
brush with milk and bake for 35 minutes at 350 F.
make frosting by creaming together the butter and sugar; stir in vanilla and milk. drizzle over coffee cake and serve hot or cold.