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Coffee Cake! and my hate of baking…

I am not an accomplished baker. While I have gotten pretty good a bread and your basic cookies and brownies that is about the extent of my baking. I think its the "science" aspect of it that turns me off. I am more of a wing it cook and having to weigh out the flour, sugar etc just doesn't float my boat.

But my son was recently exposed to the starbucks coffee cake (thanks hon) and he talks about nothing else. At close to $4 a pop it's not something I care to indulge him.

So I set out to make Martha Stewarts version.

Man does my whole house smell good! But ugh what a pain in the ass! My son loved it and I know he will want it next weekend too.

Will this baking thing ever become enjoyable??

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  1. Hey, it's fun when the results are delicious and so appreciated. That looks like a great recipe, but with lots of steps, which may have been the thing you didn't like.

    1 Reply
    1. re: roxlet

      Agree.. I love baking and find it very relaxing, but different strokes for different folks. An easier recipe (with less steps) might be more fun for everyone.
      And what one person finds and enjoyable, relaxing activity, another person can find mind-numbingly tedious (I feel that way about gardening.. my mother could do nothing else and be happy).

    2. Personally, I love to bake.
      But you see that it is time consuming and still don't want to pay someone else to do it.

      I'd bake a few at a time and freeze them if I were you.
      Or teach him to bake.

      9 Replies
      1. re: magiesmom

        Yep - I enjoy baking but only when I have time. Depending on the age of your son (I'm thinking he's old enough if he's going to Starbucks) get him in the kitchen. He'll appreciate it even more if he's helping.

        1. re: JerryMe

          Oh trust me he's a great cook! He's been in kitchen with me since he was knee high to a grasshopper, LOL.

          Unfortunately he has my baking gene. He is just as impatient as I am when he comes to weighing, measuring etc.

          1. re: foodieX2

            Well, he can has four choices: make it himself, buy it, do without or find a partner who likes to bake. ;)

            1. re: foodieX2

              You've mentioned weighing as well as measuring. Perhaps it would be easier if you just measure -- use recipes that call for cups/teaspoons/tablespoons.

              I learned to bake first, then cook, and so am always wanting exact measurements for maindish recipes -- I just don't "get" the handful of this pinch of that method so many seem to prefer for making meals.

              If you're from USA, you could look for Krusteaz box-mix Crumb Cake and try it. It's quite sweet and like your recipe smells wonderful while baking. There's no shame in using a quality mix when the from-scratch alternative isn't fun for you.

              1. re: MidwesternerTT

                what's funny is I was going to suggest going by weight, as I find it infinitely easier and less time consuming than making sure I have a scoop leveled off. I just dump and tare my scale...

                1. re: Emme

                  weight is much easier and also more accurate.

                  1. re: magiesmom

                    I've been baking at home for more than 40 years, never using a scale. For me, measuring cups/spoons are very easy to use and accurate enough to get great results.

                    1. re: MidwesternerTT

                      yup, different people have different preferences.

                      I changed mine after about 35 years of baking; was very skeptical but now love my scale.

          2. I was a baker first, and a cook later, so sort of the opposite of you. So, I actually like baking and find it infinitely easier than cooking. BUT, one thing I've found is the super exact measurements aren't always needed for baking, as long as it's close. Now, for stuff like bread you need to be exact, but for most cookies, muffins, and things like coffee cake... "roughly close" usually works just fine for me. Maybe that will help, knowing that being super duper exact is not always necessary.

            Also, just like with cooking, having your mise en place ready to go helps with baking... measure it all out and set it out, so all you have to do is dump it in in the correct order... think of it as no different as chopping up onions and garlic for your base... you're just measuring flour and sugar instead (plus I think that takes less time than chopping!).

            4 Replies
            1. re: juliejulez

              Actually, you don't have to be that exact for bread! Once you have a basic idea of what the dough should feel like, you can pretty much wing it. Not like cakes, for sure!

              1. re: roxlet

                I feel like bread is less exacting than cake. I rarely measure for bread. With cake I do.

                1. re: roxlet

                  +1... Muffins, quick bread, coffee cake are all just variations on a theme. Bread too. Another category of things you can wing are fruit crisps.

                  1. re: roxlet

                    I think that is why I enjoy bread making. To me it more like cooking in that it is not nearly as exacting as many other things. I make a ton of bread but do admit to making many of the doughs in my bread machine and then finishing them off outside of the machine. I have become known for my foccacia, sourdough, pumpernickel and cinnamon rolls. However I don't think I would have ever tried my hand at bread making without this book. It took the mystery out

                    Rustic European Breads from Your Bread Machine

                2. If he's old enough to be drinking coffee, I think he's old enough to bake the cake if he loves it that much. This is a pretty easy recipe for him to make. Off the subject,that seems a lot of flour for the topping,did it turn out OK?

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Mother of four

                    He wasn't drinking coffee, my husband was. He was just along for the ride and he splurged and bought our son the coffee cake.

                    It came out wonderful and he loved it as I noted earlier.

                  2. Why not? Just find the simpliest, recipe possible and embrace it!

                    1. There are easier recipes - I think the Joy of Cooking has a sour cream coffeecake recipe that is super, super easy. Mix and bake. Perhaps you could even forego a fancy crumb topping for a tasty cake (or show your son an easy recipe that has no fancy topping but smells and tastes fantastic). I like to bake but have zero tolerance for crumb and streusel toppings or anything that strikes me as "extra work."

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: HillsofBeverly

                        The JOC is usually my go to cook booking for baking but I guess I let my fingers to the walking and found Martha's online. The one in Joy does seem a little easier but I think it is the streusel center and topping is what he loves.

                        In fact, I can down this AM and had made himself and omelet and polished off the rest of the coffee cake. His reason for the omelet? "I knew you were going to tell me I needed protein too Mom". LOL He's 11.

                        1. re: foodieX2

                          You're in luck! I think 11 is about a perfect age for a kid to get interested in cooking. I have an 11 year old who enjoys food and experiementing with different tastes. He made shrimp in a garlic cheese sauce over the weekend, as well as pasta to serve it with. Maybe you can strike a deal with your son - you make the coffee cake if he does the topping.

                          I love to cook but don't much enjoy baking so think I understand your situation.

                          1. re: tcamp

                            He does love to cook and is getting better and better each day. He used to be all about the nachos, burritos, pasta bakes, and desserts. Now he is branching out much more.

                            I hope his future partner appreciates it! <grin>

                      2. Well, as has been evidenced on Food Network's show "Chopped", not all cooks can bake and not all bakers can cook. I have always been a cook (since childhood) but it has only been in the last 5 years that I have really began to explore baking. I enjoy baking but I know that there are aspects that I will NEVER master (I will never be a great cake decorator for example, I'll be happy if I could just become a decent one!).
                        Whether or not baking will ever become enjoyable for you is strictly for you to decide.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: PotatoHouse

                          My question was strictly rhetorical, LOL. I don't really expect strangers on the internet to make me enjoy something. It was more of a vent but I also hoping for tips/tricks from people like me-cooks who don't love baking.

                        2. next time, double the streusel topping and filling, then half for the time after that.

                          1. There is a brand of coffee cake mix, Krusteaz, that comes with a bag of cinnamon crumb stuff. It's surprisingly good. I have added fresh blueberries to it with good results. And the whole thing is neither scientific nor a PIA. If Son is > 6 years old he can make it himself.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: Querencia

                              I might consider that in the future but I rarely buy boxed mixes of anything- they are expensive and I am too cheap! Plus I find that many pre-packed/processed mixes have ingredients my son can't have and I avoid. Honestly he shouldn't have had the one from starbucks either which is I why I made the sarcastic "thanks hon" in the OP. grrrr!

                              In any event this was one of those spur of the moment things anyway not something I was willing to run to store and buy things to make it

                            2. Maybe you can Sandra lee it. Soak bundt cake in coffee and fill the center with caramel, whipped topping, and pecans. Slather with canned vanilla frosting with espresso stirred in.

                              Kidding that's gross. But a shortcut method may work better for you. Cake doctor?

                              4 Replies
                                  1. re: melpy

                                    Key words: Sandra Lee

                                    Just for fun google Kwanzaa cake

                                1. Can I ask what you didn't like about making it? It feels fairly standard to me which includes the cake, center swirl, and top crumble. If it's the measuring, there's no real way around that. But you can do a few things to streamline - skip the swirl step and just add more cinnamon to the cake batter.

                                  1. I would look for a recipe that you can bake in a 9x13 pan and doesn't have a swirl. (You can take most bundt recipes and bake them in a 9x13 instead - just watch the time.)

                                    Also, I find the crumb topping to be a WHOLE lot easier to make if you do one with melted butter rather than having to cut in the cold butter. Still works out nice and crumbly, but a much easier process.

                                    And...just put him in charge. When I was in high school, I regularly made a sour cream coffee cake with chocolate chips and a crumb topping.

                                    1. i will say my crumb cake topping is less of a pain than the "combine til crumbly" method... i mix sugars (brown and white) with cinnamon, then pour in melted (browned) butter and mix. then stir in flour til it's all clumpy. set aside while i make the batter (in my mixer -- just easier to pour in stuff). then crumble topping over batter. i like a high crumb to cake ratio ( a la starbucks...)

                                      will you ever love baking? who knows! i know there are some things i love making, and others less so... even if i love the results. however, i can suggest for now, to learn to make things that you really love. or things you would love to know how to make. perhaps excitement and eagerness can fuel a new passion...

                                      6 Replies
                                      1. re: Emme

                                        thanks for the tips! I appreciate it. I think thats what he loves the most too, the crumbly topping.

                                        1. re: foodieX2

                                          happy to post my topping recipe if you like.

                                            1. re: foodieX2

                                              69 g Dark Brown Sugar
                                              69 g Granulated Sugar
                                              1 tsp. Cinnamon
                                              ⅛ tsp. Salt
                                              225 g Unsalted Butter, Browned
                                              210 g Flour

                                              Sshhh I brown my butter on medium heat in the microwave, just watching and stirring...

                                              Combine sugars, cinnamon, salt and browned butter til well combined. Then stir in flour until it basically forms a dough. Stick in the fridge while you make the cake base. Crumble it over your batter into whatever size pieces you want.
                                              Note: You have to combine everything first and the flour last. Otherwise, you won't be able to get all the flour mixed in.

                                              ...Sorry it's all by weight...

                                        2. re: Emme

                                          I always melt the butter for any streusal or crumb toppings or even apple crisp topping with oatmeal. That way you definitely get even distribution of butter. Also, I freeze any excess and it keeps fine. So you could make topping in bulk to even further reduce the work involved. Make coffee cake muffins and you have single servings that bake quickly too :)

                                        3. Tell your son that you're too busy but as soon as he's big enough (assuming he's not grown), you'll teach him how to make it.

                                          How good is it to do something for him on command when you hate it?

                                          6 Replies
                                          1. re: rccola

                                            Gosh have I made my son out to be some kind of monster? yikes.

                                            It was not on demand. It was a mother doing something for the son she loves. He loved the coffee cake, I am too cheap to indulge him plus he really isn't supposed to eat it because of the additives so I chose to do something I don't enjoy because I love him.

                                            Part of being a family, a friend, a partner, a parent, etc is occasionally having to do something you don't enjoy. Have you never watched a movie that wasn't your cup of tea, made a dish that isn't your favorite or go on an outing just because it made someone you love happy?

                                            This was supposed to be a lighthearted vent about the fact that I love to cook and don't enjoy baking, not that I hate it.

                                            1. re: foodieX2

                                              I think it was the "ugh...pain in the ass" followed by the "he'll want it next weekend, too."

                                              Of course I've done things for my family I didn't particularly enjoy but I never felt driven to post about it. Didn't come across as lighthearted. Maybe "pain in the ass" followed by "but the look on his face made it all worthwhile?"

                                            2. re: rccola

                                              <Tell your son that you're too busy>

                                              Oh my gosh. I cannot imagine saying that to a lovely little child when it comes to making something for them to eat.
                                              I got from the OP's post that she finds baking the cake a 'pain in the ass' because she's never baked and it was a little complicated. Nothing in her post reflects anything remotely close to not wanting to bake for her son.

                                              It's a great gift to bake and cook for our children. Don't we do it with pleasure, with joy, because we are madly in love with them?

                                              1. re: latindancer

                                                I'm 30 years old, and while I'm completely capable of making my own cookies, cakes, pretty much anything, I still love it when my mom bakes and/or cooks for me. Even a simple peanut butter and jelly sandwich tastes better when she makes it. When my brother (who is 32) and I come home to visit, she is always sure to make our favorites... oatmeal chocolate chip cookies (which I could make in my sleep with no recipe) for me, and persimmon cookies for my brother. If it's around our birthdays? I get chocolate cupcakes with funfetti frosting, and my brother gets grandma's spice cake. And she LOVES to do it.

                                                So just sayin', the kids do appreciate it, even when they're grown and gone :)

                                                1. re: juliejulez

                                                  Thank you LD and Julie! I guess it hard to "read tone" in postings but you guys nailed it. The baking part was PIA not the act of doing it for my son.

                                                  I truly believe he will learn more by watching me trying it out and muddling thru even if I do grumble, lol!

                                                  I do usually wonder if the folks who say to tell your kids you are too busy, to tell them to do it themselves, etc either don't have kids or have kids that are grown and forgotten what's it like. My sister is like that. Her kids are all grown and I laugh at some of things she says. She does now too as she recently became a grandma. There is a simple joy in making something or doing something special that makes your kid or partner happy. And it those moments that I hold close to my heart.

                                                  I think there are times and places for teaching your kids how to do things. He can do the laundry, sew a button, vaccum. He make himself meals and can make us all dinner. He loves working with me in the kitchen. Like me he can bake a brownie, make basic cookies and the like but doesn't enjoy it the way he does making pizza etc. I am sure if he was motivated he would happily make himself a coffeecake but I chose to do it for him, even if my mind I was going "swirl what??" Flour AND butter the pan???

                                                2. re: latindancer

                                                  Oh my gosh--some children are lovely and some are spoiled. I got from the above and "will this baking thing ever become enjoyable" that she might not want to bake for her son.

                                                  I appreciate you wanting to support her but it was a simple matter of interpretation of words. And sometimes being madly in love with our children means telling them that we are human with likes and dislikes and work and please make it easy for us--so bake with them so they can learn to bake for us!

                                                  And yes, I'm a very good cook and cook and bake from my family and friends. But it's NOT a "pain in the ass " to me--if it were, I'd have them all share the work!

                                                  Dismount high horse, please.

                                              2. You may never love baking, but as a parent, you do things for your family!

                                                One tip- measure out the dry ingredients and keep them in containers labeled "coffee cake" and "topping."
                                                When you (or son) wants to bake a cake, all you need is eggs, butter, a spoon and a bowl.

                                                2 Replies
                                                1. re: cheesecake17


                                                  Thanks for not making feel crazy that I am happy to do things for family even if it is not my favorite thing. And it pays me back in spades when my son watches a sappy movie with me or agrees to go see the latest disney creation even when he clearly prefers action movies or when he happily accompanies me on my long walks with the dogs when he could be playing video games instead.

                                                  1. re: foodieX2

                                                    Not crazy at all! Hope you enjoy your baking :)

                                                    Oh, and if you want to make the cake portable, coffee cake works well as "muffins"

                                                2. I adore baking whereas I'm still slowly trying out this cooking thing! Maybe cause I like following instructions, I love how baking will give you the desired end result if you use the correct amount of things while cooking is more of a taste as you go routine which I don't feel comfortable doing.

                                                  It helps if you have a major sweet tooth like I do because it makes the end result of baking all the more wonderful and the hard part is not trying to eat everything in one sitting when its warm and fresh out of the oven!

                                                  1. I love baking - I baked before I cooked - but it can be time consuming - as that recipe looks!

                                                    I have a killer recipe from Penzey's that does have topping but is MUCH simpler. You make the topping, put it aside, make the batter, and then mix in by hand half the topping. Put it in the pan and then sprinkle on the rest.

                                                    So you get a "swirl" and a crunchy topping, but with much less work, two parts versus four.

                                                    Does that sound doable?

                                                    1. The more you bake the better you get at it so it becomes less of a chore. Not that it's ever a chore for me as I love baking and I love coffee cakes and have a whole slew of recipes I easily churn out.even to the point when I can start winging it as I know from experience what the chemistry ratios need to be and how to work around them.

                                                      I second another poster's recommendation. Tell your son if he loves the coffee cake, learn how to make one. I was baking as early as 9 and was already making simple cakes by the time I was 11. Start him off with a simple one-batter cake with a crumb top. Once he has a few under his belt then he can start on the swirling techniques.

                                                      1. If you have an old Betty Crocker cookbook look for that coffee cake recipe. Dead bang easy and quick. I like the idea that others have mentioned of portioning out the flour, etc. so it comes together even more quickly. You can keep the crumb topping in your freezer forever. You still get to bake up the love, but you'll do it faster!