Coffee cake is the food of slow, reassuring deliberateness—the food of waiting rooms and break rooms, picnics and funerals, holiday brunches and Sunday mornings. You can’t rush when you eat a piece of coffee cake. I think there’s an actual law somewhere that says you have to consume it slowly, sitting down, preferably with a mug and the newspaper in front of you. If there’s anything so precisely comforting as coffee cake, I don’t know it.
It’s just as comforting to make, hands in the bowl scrunching brown-sugary rubble for the cake’s top, smoothing layer upon layer of thick batter into the pan, the whole house smelling the way realtors urge you to make your house smell when you’re trying to sell it.