So far in my life I’ve hosted family for Thanksgiving exactly three times. While this definitely does not make me any kind of Thanksgiving-hosting pro, I have managed to pick up a few helpful tips in my limited experience. First, arm yourself with a cache of activities for kids to keep them out of your hair while you cook, second, buy more wine than you think you could ever possibly need because you’ll need it, and, finally, always feed overnight guests breakfast the morning of the feast.
On Thanksgiving morning everyone, including me, always says they are saving their stomachs for the big meal. However, unless you are planning to eat at 10am, that is pretty much impossible to do. My solution is to set out a simple breakfast buffet. A warm coffee cake, platter of crispy bacon, melon wedges, and plenty of hot coffee are just the things to stave off hunger until mid-afternoon without ruining the meal.
This Orange Cinnamon Coffee Cake is a recent favorite in our house and is what I plan to serve at our morning buffet this year. It is full of the rich fall flavors of cinnamon and bright orange and is topped with a chunky cinnamon-brown sugar streusel. Bake it in a pretty dish and serve it in small slices since a little goes a long way. With this simple yet elegant cake for guests to munch on you will be free to go about your own business preparing the turkey. Should anyone wander into the kitchen looking to snack on your perfectly fluffed potatoes, or sneak a warm roll, you have every right to slap their hand and steer them back to the coffee cake. Then tell them to eat up. It might be a while before dinner is ready.
Orange Cinnamon Coffee Cake
3/4 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cups granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Zest of 1 large orange
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2/3 cup sour cream
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour a 9-inch round baking dish (or a baking dish ofequal proportions) and set aside.
2. In a mixer cream the butter and sugar for the cake until light and fluffy. About 4 minutes. Then, add in the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Next, add the vanilla extract and orange zest and mix well. Finally, beat in the sour cream until smooth.
3. Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon and slowly mix it into the batter on low speed until just incorporated and the batter is smooth.
4. Pour the batter into the baking dish and spread it evenly. Then, make the streusel.
5. To make the streusel, mix together the sugars and cinnamon in a small bowl. Then stir in the melted butter and flour. Drop the streusel in large chunks on top of the cake.
6. Bake the cake for about 40 to 45 minutes, or until it is lightly browned and pulling away from the sides and a cake tester comes out clean. Allow to cool. Serve!
Kelsey Banfield is the author of the popular family cooking blog The Naptime Chef. Her first cookbook, The Naptime Chef: Fitting Great Food into Family Life, was published in spring 2012 by Running Press.