I’ve actually been cooking quite a bit lately, and even better, I’ve remembered to take pictures!
This past weekend I decided to skip my class on Friday and head into Grand Rapids. I needed to pick some stuff up from a friend who is in her third year of pharmacy school here at Ferris. She offered me this huge box of old notes and exams and books, and how could I say no? It was like winning the lottery! Then I had lunch with my best friend Beth and her girlfriend Angela, which was a lot of fun. I don’t get to see those two nearly enough anymore, and I got my Qdoba fix for a while, as well!
After lunch, I went in to Allendale to visit the place on campus at Grand Valley where I used to work. My entire four years at GVSU I worked as a student assistant at the SMART Center (Science & Math Advising, Resource and Transition Center), and it was by and far the best job I’ve ever had. The work was easy and enjoyable, I got to meet, work with, and make friends with a bunch of other students, and the advisors I worked for were awesome. The best part of the job was that once they found out how much I liked to cook, they let me designate one day a week as “baking day” where I would bring in food to share! So not only did I get to try baking something new every week, I didn’t have to eat it all, either! This coffee cake was by and far the office favorite (out of everything I made for four years!), so it was only fitting that I bring some with me when I came to visit. And, true to form, I was greeted with “Hey, it’s Katie! AND SHE BROUGHT CAKE!”
This coffee cake is probably one of my top favorite foods of all time. It was one that my grandma would make every once in a while when I was little, and one that I rediscovered again during high school. She passed away two years ago, so it’s something that I make every once in a while as a way to remember her.
It is very similar in it’s make-up to the crumb cake that I posted previously, but about 100 times better tasting, and much more moist. The difference in taste comes from the graham cracker crumbs that are used in the streusel layer, which give it a sweet, nutty flavor that just can’t be obtained using flour alone. The original recipe didn’t call for a glaze, but I’ve tried it both ways, and the coffee cake with the glaze is definitely much better, and tends to make the cake a little bit more moist. But really, when is glaze ever a bad thing?
I managed to convince some of the people at work to pose with the coffee cake. Joanie is on the left — she was pretty much the office mom, and makes the best banana bread I’ve ever had, which will definitely be making an appearance on here at some point. Brianna is in the middle, and Rachel, my protege (and favorite coworker!) is on the right. I trained Rachel when she was just a wee freshman, and we always had WAY too much fun working together.
Nana Dee’s Coffee Cake
2 c. graham cracker crumbs
1 c. butter, melted
2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 c. brown sugar
1 box french vanilla cake mix (if you can’t find french vanilla, you can use yellow or white cake mix)
Oil, water, and eggs as called for on the cake mix box
1 1/2 c. powdered sugar
2-3 tbsp. milk
1 tsp. vanilla
1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease a 13×9 inch pan.
2) Mix together the graham cracker crumbs, brown sugar and cinnamon. Add melted butter and mix to combine (the mixture should be relatively wet — about the consistency of wet sand)
3) Prepare cake mix as instructed on the box.
4) Pour half of the cake batter into the prepared pan.
5) Sprinkle half of the graham cracker crumb mixture evenly over the cake batter.
6) Pour the remaining cake batter into the pan, and sprinkle with remaining graham cracker crumb mixture.
7) Bake for 30-40 minutes, or until the top of the cake is browned and a knife inserted in the middle comes out clean.
8) During the last few minutes of baking time, combine the powdered sugar, vanilla, and enough milk to make a thin glaze (it may take more or less milk than called for in the recipe). Drizzle glaze over the cake while it is still hot, right after it comes out of the oven.