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Coffeecake, such as this Cherry Almond variety, is a warm, comforting dish and good to the last crumb.

Crowd-pleasing staple

At this time of year, a coffeecake is warm and inviting, cinnamon-y and rich with butter and sour cream, dotted with fruit and nuts, or plain and simply delicious.

Coffeecakes are, for the most part, easy to prepare.

A few things to think about: More newspapers and books are giving weights for baking, which is much more accurate. I held off because I know most readers don’t have scales, so careful measuring is important.

Flour should be first stirred in the bag or canister and then spooned into a dry-measure cup and leveled off (never packed in). Brown sugar is always packed and leveled. Semisoft ingredients like yogurt or sour cream are measured in dry-measure cups as well, not graduated glass measures. Those are for liquids.

Eggs are always large. Butter is unsalted, unless indicated otherwise, and I simply love the new half sticks from Land O’Lakes, but don’t get confused. They’re not 8 tablespoons ( 1/2 cup); they are 4 tablespoons or 1/4 cup.

Coffeecakes freeze well, so you can bake them ahead of time. They’ll thaw overnight. Or get up a little earlier in the morning to start baking. It’s guaranteed everyone will wake up in a good mood.

After-the-Opera Coffeecake

1 cup self-rising flour

1/2 cup granulated sugar

3-ounce package cream cheese, softened

5 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened, divided

1/4 cup milk

1 teaspoon lemon zest

1 large egg, at room temperature

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

5 ounces (scant 1/2 cup) seedless raspberry jam or spread, melted

1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1/4 cup chopped pecans, toasted

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour an 8-inch-round cake pan.

In large bowl, put flour, granulated sugar, cream cheese, 4 tablespoons of the butter, milk, lemon zest, egg and extract. Beat with electric mixer at low speed until moistened.

Raise mixer speed to medium and beat 2 more minutes. Spread in prepared pan.

Spoon raspberry jam by teaspoons over batter. With table knife, swirl jam into batter to marbleize.

Bake 25 to 35 minutes, until cake is browned, puffed and springy to the touch. Cool on wire rack until only slightly warm.

Meanwhile, for drizzle, in small bowl, mix remaining 1 tablespoon butter, confectioners’ sugar and lemon juice until smooth. Drizzle over lukewarm cake. Sprinkle with pecans and serve.

Makes 8 to 10 servings.

Cherry Almond Coffeecake

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon fine table salt

8 tablespoons ( 1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened

1 cup granulated sugar

2 large eggs, at room temperature

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon almond extract

1 cup sour cream

1 cup (half a can) cherry-pie filling

1/2 cup sliced natural almonds (with the skins)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter 9-inch Springform pan.

In medium bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

In large bowl of electric mixer, at medium speed, beat butter. Add sugar about 1/4 cup at a time, beating until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating after each. Beat in extracts. Scrape bowl.

At low speed, add flour mixture, about 1/2 cup at a time, alternating with sour cream, about 1/3 cup at a time, mixing only until batter is smooth.

Spoon half the batter into prepared pan. Add half the cherry-pie filling and swirl it once through batter with rubber spatula. Spoon remaining batter evenly over top, then remaining pie filling, but don’t swirl it. Sprinkle with almonds; press lightly into surface.

Bake until cake is brown on top, shrinks from sides and toothpick comes out clean, 50 to 55 minutes. Cool about 30 minutes in pan on wire rack. Loosen and remove pan sides and serve warm.

Makes 12 servings.

Cinnamon Walnut Coffeecake

This super-moist, delicious coffeecake comes from Deborah Mintcheff, a food editor and life coach in New York City. Follow the directions carefully and don’t do what I did, which was to mix the chocolate chips into the topping. They go in the middle, where they melt better. The really great thing about this cake is that you make it in minutes in the food processor. And you probably have most of the stuff on hand.

For the topping:

1/2 cup chopped walnuts

1/2 cup granulated sugar

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

For the cake:

8 tablespoons ( 1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened somewhat

1 cup granulated sugar

1 cup sour cream

2 large eggs

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon fine table salt

1/2 cup mini chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour an 8- or 9-inch Springform pan; line pan with parchment-paper round.

For topping: Mix walnuts, sugar and cinnamon in small bowl.

For cake: In food processor, put butter and sugar; pulse until well-mixed and fluffy. Scrape sides and bottom. Add sour cream, eggs and vanilla; process until well-blended. Scrape work bowl once more.

In small bowl, whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add to processor and pulse just until mixed well.

Scrape about 1 1/2 cups batter into prepared pan; spread roughly. Sprinkle 1/2 cup topping evenly over batter. Sprinkle with chocolate chips. Dollop remaining batter over topping and gently spread with narrow metal spatula. Sprinkle with remaining topping.

Bake cake until browned and it starts to shrink from sides, 40 to 50 minutes. Cool on wire rack. Loosen and remove sides of pan. Serve.

Makes 8 or more servings.

– Adapted from “The Complete Southern Cookbook: More than 800 of the Most Delicious, Down-Home Recipes,” by Tammy Algood (Running Press, 2010) – Adapted from “Breakfast with Friends: Seasonal Menus to Celebrate the Mornings,” by Elizabeth Alston (McGraw Hill, 1989) – Deborah Mintcheff

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