My mother was a great cook who taught me a lot about cooking and entertaining. One of the best pieces of advice she gave me is one I take to heart: do as much work as possible ahead of time. This is especially good advice when having overnight guests.
I love having friends and family come for a visit. It's a chance to catch up, renew friendships, strengthen family ties and, for those that have never been to our city, show them around. I find it easy to prep food ahead of time for the evening meal, but breakfast is another story.
Mornings are always hectic at our house. Depending on the day, my husband and I might have to go to work and our son might have school. Most guests don't mind a bowl of cereal, toast or fruit. I like to have something special at least one day so this is when I pull out a recipe my mother gave me for Overnight Coffee Cake.
The best part of this recipe, other than the taste, is the cake is assembled ahead of time and refrigerated overnight. This makes preparing breakfast less stressful the next day. Unlike egg dishes and casseroles that need to be served hot and may not reheat well, I don't have to worry about the temperature of the cake. It can be served hot, warm or at room temperature, depending on when our guests wake up.
When I make this cake, I measure all the ingredients before I do anything else. In culinary practice, this is known as mise en place -- everything is measured and ready to be used. While the butter is softening, I prepare the topping ingredients. Once the topping is made, I'm ready to make the cake.
Since the ingredients have already been measured, it only takes a few minutes to mix up the cake. After I put the cake batter in the pan, I use an offset spatula to smooth the top. An offset spatula has a bend in the blade which makes it ideal for smoothing cake batter or icing. I sprinkle the topping evenly over the cake, cover the pan with foil and put the cake in the refrigerator.
The next morning, I put the cake in a preheated oven for 30 to 40 minutes. I have bacon or fruit salad available if our guests want something with the cake. Most of the time, though, they eat the cake by itself. My nephew, Andy, was visiting and liked the cake so much, he wanted to make sure I gave his mother the recipe before they went home. Don't be surprised if your guests request a copy of the recipe too!