Just call me Nancy Drew.

For the past few days, the wastebasket in our bathroom has had a few inches of water in it. The first time I noticed it, I wrote it off to catching a little water from the sink. So, I poured it out. And it came back. The ceiling wasn’t leaking, so I moved the basket farther from the sink. More water.

So, being a beacon of logic, I ask Jeff, “Are you pouring water into the trashcan?”

He walks into the bathroom, looks around and points out that I’ve moved the basket squarely under the toilet handle. Which is leaking.

It’s the holiday season, and my brain is turning into figgy pudding.

What do you do to hang on to the scraps of your sanity during The MOST WonDERful Time of the Year?

While I’m waiting for your answer, I’ll be curled into the fetal position, like Sybil, and having some Christmas Crumb Cake. It’s the perfect holiday meltdown food – crunchy from the pecans, sweet from the brown sugar and coconut, a little tangy from the dried cranberries and buttery from the … butter. The original recipe calls for a cup of walnuts, but add a cup of any mix-ins that soothe your soul.

P.S. Bourbon is not a mix-in.

Christmas Crumb Cake

Adapted from Marcy Goldman’s “A Passion for Baking”

Makes 10 to 12 servings

  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup pecans
  • 1/4 cup shredded sweetened coconut
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Generously spray a 9- or 10-inch springform pan or 13- x 9-inch pan with nonstick cooking spray. Place pan on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet.
  2. In a mixer bowl, blend butter, flour, both sugars, salt, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, and nutmeg.
  3. For Topping: Remove 3/4 cup of mixture from the mixing bowl, and add chopped nuts, coconut, cherries and remaining 1 teaspoon cinnamon. Set aside.
  4. To remaining batter, add baking powder, baking soda, egg, vanilla and buttermilk. Using a hand whisk, blend well.
  5. Spoon batter into prepared pan. Sprinkle on reserved crumb topping. Bake until cake tests done and springs back when gently pressed with fingertips, about 45 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature. Dust with confectioners’ sugar.