Today’s post is a bit different. Today in Hispanic San Francisco, many people are preparing to celebrate. No, not the Giants’ baseball victory last night. Instead, they are remembering their loved ones who have died. Today, November 2, is El Dia de los Muertos (The Day of the Dead) or All Souls´ Day. Tonight there will be marigolds and sugar skeletons, processions and candles. People will celebrate and remember.
To remember those who have died…not something done collectively or even individually much in fast-paced Western culture. But as I interview women these days, I think of my own string of past women who have died…two grandmothers and a handful of great-aunts. I hear fascinating stories of lives from around the world. Today, I pause for a minute to share a visual from my story, a golden brown bundt cake filled with hot apricot.
My Grandmother Tenjack was a wonder in the kitchen. She taught herself to cook and did it quite well. From a strange hodge-podge of newspaper clippings, a kindly Jewish woman she cleaned house for, and years of working away at it, Grandmother’s kitchen produced such wonders as tomato braised spareribs, raisin studded bran muffins, hamburger onion pie, melt-in-your-mouth kolackies and her family-famous apricot coffee cake. The kitchen itself was built and decorated exactly how she wanted it. Yellow flowered wallpaper, translucent organza curtains to match, pink stove and refrigerator (she loved yellow and pink). Sunlight streamed in over steaming cups of coffee and a powder dusted cake.
Her sweet dough recipe began in a more elaborate and complicated way and then evolved into a variation on a theme from Betty Crocker. It has been practiced and enjoyed by her children and grandchildren many times since then. I hope you enjoy!
Apricot Coffee Cake
(dough taken from Betty Crocker’s “Traditional Sweet Dough Recipe”)
2 packages active dry yeast
½ cup warm water (105 – 115° F)
½ cup lukewarm milk (scalded, then cooled)
½ cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
½ cup soft butter
4 ½ – 5 cups flour
1 can Solo apricot pie filling (can also use a jar of Simply Fruit apricot spread)
Dissolve yeast in warm water. Stir in milk, sugar, salt, eggs, butter and 2 ½ cups of the flour. Beat until smooth. Mix in enough remaining flour to make dough easy to handle.
Turn dough on lightly floured board. Knead until smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes. Place in greased bowl; turn greased side up. (At this point, dough can be refrigerated 3-4 days.) Cover. Let rise in warm place until double, about 1 ½ hours. Dough is ready if impression remains when touched.
Punch down dough.
And now, for Grandmother Martha’s directions for apricot coffee cake…
Roll dough into rectangle, about 9” by 12” . Spread with apricot spread. Roll up along longer side, jelly-roll fashion. Position roll, seamed side down, in greased bundt pan. Punch ends together. Cover. Let rise until double, about 30 minutes.
Heat oven to 375° and bake until golden brown, about 30 minutes.