Cooks&Books&Recipes Featured Cook Donna:
After paging through the cookbook several times, I decided to make a cinnamon cake called “butter+cinnamon+sugar=cake.” (Did I mention that even the recipe names are quirky?)
The photos in the book showed a cake with a perfectly flat top. With that as my goal, I cut back just a little on the baking powder. Since I live at high altitude, that’s a typical adaptation, so I hoped for the best. My cake turned out to be less dense and less flat than the one in the photos in the book, and it seemed to be a little taller as well–probably due to the altitude issue. But it was a fine cake anyway.
The interesting bit of instruction was to sprinkle the cinnamon-sugar mixture on the cake in two doses–once after five minutes of cooling and a second time after 30 minutes. The idea is that the warm cake would absorb some of the cinnamon sugar and that the surface of the cake would darken. Unfortunately, I didn’t get quite that effect. I think the five-minute cooling was too long. (Did I mention that things cool off faster at high altitude?) Next time I might sprinkle that cinnamon-sugar mixture sooner–maybe right out of the oven–to get the melting effect. Even so, I wasn’t at all disappointed with the cake as it was. The cinnamon flavor was just right, the cake was buttery as promised, and although the cake wasn’t as dense as the author might have intended, the texture was very nice.
Featured Recipe From: Baking Style: Art, Craft, Recipes
Yield: 16 Servings
For the Cinnamon Butter Batter
- 2 3/4 cups unsifted bleached all-purpose flour
- 1 3/4 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 pound (16 tablespoons or 2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
- 1 cup plus 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 3 large eggs
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons half-and-half
For the Cinnamon-Sugar Topping
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar blended with 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Film the inside of a 9 by 9 by 2-inch pan with nonstick flour-and-oil spray.
- For the batter, sift the flour, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon onto a sheet of waxed paper.
- Cream the butter in the large bowl of a freestanding electric mixer on moderate speed for 3 minutes. Add the sugar in 2 additions, beating for 2 minutes after each portion is added. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, mixing only until incorporated. Blend in the vanilla extract. On low speed, alternately add the sifted mixture in 3 additions with the half-and-half in 2 additions, beginning and ending with the sifted mixture. Scrape down the sides of the mixing bowl with a rubber spatula to keep the batter even-textured. Beat the batter on moderately high speed for 30 seconds. The batter will be very creamy and moderately dense.
- Spoon and scrape the batter into the prepared baking pan. Smooth the top with a rubber spatula.
- Bake the cake in the preheated oven for 40 to 45 minutes, or until risen, set, and a wooden pick withdraws clean when inserted 1 to 2 inches from the center. Cool the cake in the pan on a cooling rack for 5 minutes. Sprinkle half of the cinnamon-sugar topping evenly over the surface of the cake. The first sprinkling will cause the surface to darken as it absorbs the mixture because the cake is emitting warmth. Let the cake rest for 30 minutes, then sprinkle the remaining cinnamon-sugar topping on the surface of the cake. The dual sprinklings at different cake temperatures will result in an interesting definition of taste and color. Serve the cake cut into squares or fingers directly from the pan. Lift out the pieces of cake, using a small offset metal spatula. Store in an airtight cake keeper.
Over-beating the mixture when the eggs are added may destabilize the cake as it bakes (risking an uneven rise), so be sure to beat the mixture just to incorporate each egg
The fine, close-textured (some would call it compact) crumb of the cake is ultra-buttery and creamy
© 2011 Lisa Yockelson
Reprinted with permission from Baking Style: Art, Craft, Recipes (John Wiley & Sons, Inc.)