I wonder if this is how holdays get started. Some random person comes up with an object to celebrate and tells two friends, then they tell two friends, and so on, like some Faberge Organic Shampoo commercial. Or, in Thrasso's case, this coffee cake business might be a Canadian thing, though I tend to think of them as eating daintier cakes with the tea they drink after stirring a bit of milk into their china cups with their 1981 Royal Wedding commemerative spoons. No angry comments from my Canadian readership, please. I know all of you have one of those spoons. All 33,098,932 of you.
Since my Canadian ami's birthday falls exactly one month after the "offical" Coffee Cake Day (perhaps that is why he wants a full month of celebration?), I have baked a coffee cake.
Since there are literally thousands of coffee cake recipes out there of varying types, I feel I can only assign the one a number. It's too early in its developmental stage to be given anything but. As you can see in the photo, the crumb is good, but it is not swirly enough. Mine is too subtle, and coffee cake should not, in my opinion, be too subtle. I think I'll make it a bit more crumbly next time. Please humor me. No recipe. It's not worth repeating. Yet.
Now, a little back story on the coffee cake, so one might better understand its need for a holiday. Or not.
Coffee cake can be traced back to the 17th Century in Europe, since that is when coffee was introduced there. In fact, it was made fashionable in Paris at Le Procope, a favorite haunt of my family when in town, for reasons I am certain you will understand. Sadly, we do not get a family discount, those bastards. And I do not believe they serve coffee cake, either.
Coffee cake can be traced to Northern Europe where, as foodtimeline.org (I love this website) writes:
Coffee cake (aslo sometimes known as Kuchen or Gugelhopf) was not invented. It evolved...from ancient honey cakes to simple French galettes to medieval fruitcakes to sweet yeast rolls to Danish, cakes made with coffee to mass-produced pre-packaged treats.
Food historians generally agree the concept of coffee cake [eating sweet cakes with coffee] most likely originated in Northern/Central Europe sometime in the 17th century. Why this place and time? These countries were already known for their traditional for sweet yeast breads. When coffee was introduced to Europe (see notes below) these cakes were a natural accompaniment. German, Dutch, and Scandinavian immigrants brought their coffee cake recipes with them to America.
The first coffee cake-type foods were more like bread than cake. They were simple concoctions of yeast, flour, eggs, sugar, nuts, dried fruit and sweet spices. Over time, coffee cake recipes changed. Sugared fruit, cheese, yogurt and other creamy fillings are often used in today's American coffee cake recipes.
"Much of the American appetite for sweet rolls and cakes comes from these specific Germans as well as from the Holland settlements that had so much influence on early New York, New Jersey, and Delaware. All of those colonial cooks made fruity, buttery breakfast or coffee cakes from recipes that vary only slightly from methods used in the twentieth century. They also share some of the responsibility for the national zest for doughnuts..."
---American Food: The Gastronomic Story, Evan Jones, 2nd edition [Vintage Books:New York] 1981 (p. 91)
"...Scandinavians were perhaps more responsible than anyone else for making Ameirca as coffee-break-conscious as it is, and for perfecting the kind of food that goes well with coffee. German women had already brough the Kaffeeklatcsh to their frontier communities, but it was in the kitchens where there was always a pot brewing on the back of the stove that Scandinavian hospitality and coffee became synonymous...The term coffee klatch became part of the language, and its original meaning--a moment that combined gossip with coffee drinking--was changed to define the American version of England's tea, a midmorning or midafternoon gathering at which to imbibe and ingest....Like the cooks from Central Europe, most Scandinavian cooks have prided themselves on simple forms of pastry making that include so called coffee breads, coffee cakes, coffee rings, sweet rolls, and buns..."
---ibid (p. 163)
Try making your own sometime. They are fairly simple to make and, like I said, literally thousands of recipes of varying degrees of palatability. Go on. Do it. And please join me at next year's Coffee Cake Film Festival which I will be hosting as soon as I can find enough films in which this underappreciated cake is featured.