Henry David Thoreau once wrote of the great Outer Beach on Cape Cod, "A man may stand there and put all America behind him." It only takes a glance at this peculiar formation of coastline, once called the right arm of Massachusetts, to understand why this statement is true.
Getting away from it all is the main reason why the Cape Cod population doubles every summer. And this, in part, is why just returned from our own Cape Cod vacation.
There's something wonderful about renting an old beach house, sitting on the porch, sipping a cup of tea or coffee, staring at the ocean and watching the world go by. Of course, it's so much better when you have good company and a piece of freshly baked coffee cake to snack on.
Just when you think you've seen it all, you turn down a side street and find a new beach, a new nature preserve, a new restaurant, an old bookstore or ice cream parlor... or a gorgeous place to take a stroll. Watch the bathers sun along the stunning coast or wander off into the woods...whatever you do - take time to breathe in the fresh ocean air.
Then, when your adventures are through, come back to your beach house and have another piece of homemade coffee cake.
This is, indeed, a wonderful place to leave the world behind you.
"In summer, the song sings itself." ~ William Carlos Williams
Homemade Coffee Cake (from Ina Garten, Barefoot Contessa)
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter at room temperature
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
3 extra-large eggs at room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups sour cream
2 1/2 cups cake flour (not self-rising)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
3 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour a 10-inch tube pan.
Cream the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment for 4 to 5 minutes, until light. Add the eggs 1 at a time, then add the vanilla and sour cream. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. With the mixer on low, add the flour mixture to the batter until just combined. Finish stirring with a spatula to be sure the batter is completely mixed.
For the streusel, place the brown sugar, flour, cinnamon, salt, and butter in a bowl and pinch together with your fingers until it forms a crumble.
Spoon half the batter into the pan and spread it out with a knife. Sprinkle with 3/4 cup streusel. Spoon the rest of the batter in the pan, spread it out, and scatter the remaining streusel on top. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean.
Let cool on a wire rack for at least 30 minutes. Carefully transfer the cake, streusel side up, onto a serving plate. Whisk the confectioners' sugar and maple syrup together, adding a few drops of water if necessary, to make the glaze runny. Drizzle as much as you like over the cake with a fork or spoon.