03 July, 2012

Fresh Cherry Sour Cream and Clara's Sour Cream Coffee Cakes | Good Housekeeping Cookbook (1963) and Cecily Brownstone

In 1958, Good Housekeeping Magazine published a recipe for "Clara's Sour Cream Coffee Cake." Due to popularity, "Clara's Special Coffeecake" was then published in the (out of print) 1963 edition of the Good Housekeeping Cookbook, which is in our cookbook collection (her recipe is at the bottom of this post and also provides useful freezing instructions).

Twenty-five years later, the syndicated food writer Cecily Brownstone adapted the recipe for fresh cherries which inspires this recipe (after thirty more years!). Clearly, the recipe has ongoing appeal. This Fresh Cherry Sour Cream Coffee Cake is rich, flavorful and moist.

Fresh Cherry Sour Cream Coffee Cake ingredients
Makes one (9-inch) tube cake, about 12 to 16 slices
1 Tbsp sugar
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon

2.5 cups unbleached flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 (1/4-lb) sticks butter (1 cup), soft or cut into 16 pats
1.25 cups + 2 Tbsp sugar (divided use)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp almond extract
1/2 tsp grated lemon rind
2 large eggs
8-oz (1 cup) sour cream

Cherry filling

1.5 cups pitted and halved fresh Rainier and Bing cherries
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp grated lemon rind

Change Cherry filling by reducing fresh cherries to 1 cup (scant 1/2-lb) and adding 1/2 cup chopped (medium-fine) pecans or walnuts.

Fresh Cherry Sour Cream Coffee Cake Directions
Get ready
Position a rack in the center of the oven. Preheat oven to 350ºF. 

Grease and flour 9-inch tube pan. 

Toss together Topping ingredients and set aside.

Prepare batter

On wax paper or in a bowl, sift together flour, baking powder and soda.

In the large bowl of an electric mixer at Medium speed, cream butter, 1.25 cups sugar, the vanilla and almond extracts, and lemon rind. Beat in eggs singly, until blended each time. 

Add sour cream and beat until blended. 

At Low speed, gradually beat in flour mixture until smooth.

Prepare filling and assemble layers

Stir together all of the Cherry filling ingredients.     Back to Top

Turn 1/3 (about 1.5 cups, generous) of the batter into the prepared tube pan. Sprinkle with 1/2 of the Cherry filling, avoiding contact with the pan to prevent the cherries and syrup from burning. Repeat layers in same manner. Spread with remaining batter and use spatula to smooth the top.

Sprinkle reserved Topping over the batter, again avoiding contact with the pan to prevent burning.

Bake, cool and serve or freeze

Bake on the center rack of preheated oven until a cake-tester inserted in the center comes out clean, about sixty (60) minutes.

Cool on a wire rack for five (5) minutes. Then, loosen edges and turn out on rack covered with a clean, dry towel to cushion the inverted cake while it cools completely topside down, which keeps the bottom (read melted Topping) from sticking to the rack.

Invert on a cake plate and serve topside up.     Back to Top

Fresh Cherry Sour Cream Coffee Cake Notes
  • Cooling as Ms. Brownstowne directed left an imprint of the cooling rack on top of the otherwise very pretty cake. That's why I suggest using a clean, dry towel to cushion the inverted cake while cooling. Also, next time, I think I'll try lightly misting a cooling rack with cooking spray and invert the coffee cake sooner, to avoid those imprints. 

Clara's Special Coffeecake ingredients
Makes one (9-inch) tube cake, about 12 to 16 slices
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1 Tbsp cocoa
1/2 cup chopped walnuts


3 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
3 tsp double-acting baking powder
1/2 cup butter or margarine
1 cup granulated sugar
3 eggs, unbeaten
1.25 cups commercial sour cream

Clara's Special Coffeecake Directions
Get ready
Preheat oven to 375ºF. Grease 9-inch tube pan.

In small bowl, combine all of the Filling ingredients and set aside.

Prepare batter

Sift flour with baking soda and baking powder.

In large bowl, with mixer at Medium speed, cream butter until light. Then, gradually add the 1 cup sugar, beating well.

Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each. 

Blend in flour mixture alternately with sour cream.

Assemble and bake coffee cake

Into prepared tube pan, pour half of the batter and top with the filling. Spread remaining batter evenly over filling.

Bake until done, about one (1) hour. Cool 10 minutes in pan; then turn out of pan, and finish cooling on wire rack.     Back to Top

Clara's Special Coffeecake Notes
  • To freeze, cool coffee cake and freeze-wrap in foil. To serve, thaw, wrapped, several hours at room temperature and then heat at 400ºF for 30 to 60 minutes, still wrapped.

  • Slightly adapts Clara's Special Coffeecake recipe in The Good Housekeeping Cookbook Edited by Dorothy B Marsh (San Diego: Harcourt, Brace & World, Inc., 1963), 485-486.

Page Last Modified 13 June 2016

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