I’ve shared with you the journey I’ve taken as we give my daughter Emily’s condo kitchen a mini makeover featuring a fabulous new faucet from Delta Faucet. First we chose the one best suited for her taste and then last month we shared a Pinterest board with some of our design ideas. This month it’s all about the reveal; the evidence of before, during and after; the most exciting part!
That made me think about how I have a tendency to do before and after efforts with old blog posts too. I’ll revisit something I’ve made in the past and while I still love the recipe, some of those older efforts at photography just do not cut it so I make sure to take a new set of photos for the blog. In some cases, like today, I’ll share the entire post knowing that something I posted a couple of years ago was pretty much invisible to the public at large and deserved to be shared. Today my companion food for the kitchen reveal is this fabulous coffee cake. What about it makes it so fabulous? Everything!!
For our kitchen project, we started with a basic galley kitchen with counters on both sides of the space. I had hoped our efforts would gain Emily some organization and some additional storage space and thus open up her counters more for workspace. I do believe we’ve done just that; I can’t deny I love it too. I’m currently doing most of the cooking for my blog in Emily’s kitchen (fingers crossed I will be in my own new home in November!) so I can attest to how much nicer this is; just a couple of open areas for work have made a huge difference.
What did we do?
Here are the ‘Before’ photos we took of the space. I asked Emily to just have it be cleaned up but normal and you can see that normal leaves little counter top space for doing any work. Lack of cabinet space saw her putting lots on the counter and in some cases storing seldom used items on the top of her counters which was, well…counter productive! An overly large dish drainer (I do love one too but her’s was verging on Amazon woman proportions) took up more space that I thought could be made more user friendly with some changes.
Her sink was actually in good enough shape but the hard water in her condo left it always marred with hard water spots. Our plan was to replace the sink with a composite material to hide the spots better (and give her a better layout; none of her big pans fit in those half sink sections), devise a method for spice storage that we could put on the wall above the sink making them more convenient and as a huge bonus opened up a lot of cabinet space for storage.
We did hire someone to install the new sink and faucet. I’m handy but I have an aversion to scooting under the sink; call it a bit of claustrophobia…plus we figured someone knowledgeable could do this in two hours and it would probably take Emily and I two days! The Cassidy with Touch20 technology does have a bit more to consider for installation but it’s pretty straightforward and we were both excited when it was done and it worked! Touch it. Water goes on. Touch it again, Water goes off. And so on; always turning on to the water temperature setting you have the handle position set for. I kiddingly call it the ‘chicken cutting faucet’ because you never again have to touch something with hands that HAVE to be washed before you touch anything with them. Nice, huh?
We bought a Sandstone sink and Emily LOVES it…that larger section on the left is so much handier for anyone with large cookie sheets or pans. The faucet? When was the last time you played with a faucet anyhow? They only thing I had to get used to was it turning on when I would be wiping the surface around the base…they say touch and they aren’t kidding!
It is remarkable how one thing can spur on a mini design effort that had maximum impact. After moving her ‘gour-met’ wall hanging higher on the wall, we installed two gray metal sheets from IKEA that are attached to the walls with mollies. Some back covers of Cooks Illustrated and both magnets and magnetic jars for spices from The Container Store finished off Em’s new spice rack. She put a clear label on each jar and wrote the name of the spice with indelible maker on the side; most are evident of what they are but if ever not sure, she has a reference.
New storage containers for flour and sugars are now nestled with her KitchenAid mixer and Cuisinart food processor in an area to the left of the sink now labeled as her ‘Baking Station.’ On the right of the sink, the huge dish rack is gone, replaced with one both smaller and more attractive yet still functional, opening room for a small lamp that not only serves to illuminate the space but with a low wattage bulb works as a nice night light.
On the other side of the room, more storage has meant less need to use counter space for food storage of items like vinegars and oils and Emily now has room for a cutting board on one side of the stove for prep work and room on the other side that allowed us to keep her toaster oven out and some condiments and utensils. Our final project that we’ll do in the next couple of months? Em wants a piece of wood painted with chalk paint like this to be framed and put on the door to her laundry room; it will be a great use of space for notes, shopping list, menus and more.
Saved the BEST for Last!
Without a doubt this area is the star of the show. I love it. Emily loves it. She has a new sink, new AMAZING faucet, new spice storage, new flour and sugar canisters and a new dish drainer. But even better? She has more storage in her cabinets and more work space on her counters; you simply can not put a price tag on that!!
What’s With This Best Coffee Cake Business Then?
This was the first thing I baked in the ‘new’ kitchen; the difference in work space was wonderful and the cake once again lived up to expectations. I was first introduced to it years ago when I was I was having coffee and thinking about what to make for a neighbor with a new baby when I saw a tweet from The Pioneer Woman (aka Ree Drummond) that said, and I quote, “The Best Coffee Cake Ever. I say that with confidence, boldness, and crumbs all over my chin” – so of course I was intrigued…I mean everyone thinks they make the BEST ever…I typically think of my dishes as more like the Best Ever at This Moment!
I headed over to check out the post and could see why this could be the best ever. I mean…like a bit of dough with your topping? Who hasn’t wished the piece of coffee cake they’re eating had just a bit more of that wonderful stuff crumbled on top; that magical mix of butter, brown sugar and nuts (OK, maybe a little bit of flour; but who gives flour much credit anyhow?)
I also couldn’t help but notice that egg yolks were omitted and only beaten egg whites were used…so this seemed unique enough to not compete with my Bon Appetit, church cookbook, Junior League and Nordtrom’s collection to in fact be different…but better? We’ll see. Ree might be THE Pioneer Woman but I’m from Missouri…so Show Me!
I did a couple of things differently but nothing that would dramatically change the end result. I decided to beat the egg whites first and just transfer them to another bowl so that I could use just one mixing bowl. Now that’s how I roll…but then I also don’t have the fancy schmancy KitchenAid electric whisk Ree used for hers. Other than that, well, every time I’ve made it I’ve had to use a variety of nuts; this past week it was equal amounts of pecans, walnuts and almonds and I think I liked that combination better than any others I’ve tried.
Was it the BEST? Not to offend my Grandma Bathe or Stacy Hatch and her blueberry coffee cake I love, but this was hard to beat. Seriously. But how could it not be? You know that topping you always wished you had more of? Well, this topping actually sinks under the dough lightened by egg whites and becomes the middle and then it sort of caramelizes on the bottom and you can see by the picture it is clearly a third (or more!) of this cake! The dough is light and airy and the top gets sort of crusty and well, it was sorta perfect…great job Ree; we absolutely agree!
I planned to give this to a neighbor so was left with a conundrum of what to do. I wanted one perfect slice for a photo but let’s be honest…I mean how could I judge without having a piece for myself and experience that nirvana of crumbs all over MY chin? So, my neighbor was delivered 3/4 of a coffee cake (this makes a HUGE coffee cake) nestled oh so decoratively in a pretty kitchen cloth as if my making it look beautifully presented REQUIRED it be set free from the pan! So glad I saved some for me and Em…we needed to celebrate a bit after this effort!
- ¾ butter, softened
- 2 cups sugar
- 3 cups flour, sifted
- 4 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1-¼ cup milk
- 3 whole egg whites, beaten til stiff
- ¾ butter, softened
- ¾ cups flour
- 1-½ cup brown sugar
- 2 Tablespoons cinnamon
- 1-½ cup chopped nuts (I used a half cup each of pecan, walnuts and almonds)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees
- Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt
- Beat egg whites and set aside
- In same mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar
- Add flour mixture and milk alternately until combined; don’t overbeat
- Fold in beaten egg whites with a rubber spatula until just incorporated
- Spread in a well-greased 9 x 13 (larger would be fine but I don’t recommend you go with anything smaller) baking pan
- In a separate bowl, combine topping ingredients with a pastry cutter until crumbly. Sprinkle all over the top
- Bake for 40 to 45 minutes til a toothpick inserted comes out clean and nicely brown on top. Mine seemed done but not brown, so I turned on convection heat for a few minutes
- Best if served warm; so for that middle of the night snack…your microwave will be your best friend!
Disclosure: Compensation was provided by Delta via Glam Media. The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of Delta.