Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Gooey Cinnamon Cake

Recently I have spent dozens of hours reading a number of different Paris food blogs in preparation for our trip to Paris at the end of May.  Most of the blogs are dedicated to the Parisian restaurant scene, but David Lebovitz's blog is dedicated to dessert and Paris.  All of the blogs get me all worked up like a little kid on Christmas Eve or like Alex after eating dessert too late at night (i.e. bouncing around and unable to sleep).  We currently have reservations at a few restaurants and I'm pondering my options for our remaining meals.  I'm having trouble narrowing it down because I want to eat everywhere, but I'm going to have to make some tough decisions soon.  I can't wait.  But enough about that - back to David Lebovitz.  I stumbled across his Gooey Cinnamon Cake recipe a few months back but the number of steps/layers that it involved was sufficient deterrent to keep me away.  But I kept coming back to it.  I'm not sure what it was about this cake recipe that kept bringing me back for another look but after my 10th visit I decided that I had had enough.  And that is the story behind this cake.  It's not much of a story, but this cake was inspired by our upcoming trip to Paris (in a rather backwards and roundabout way).

I'm not sure what I expected the cake to taste like, but it strongly reminded me of coffee cake.  And I'm not a huge fan of coffee cake, but I found this cake to be strangely delicious.  Other bloggers have said that these cake squares reminded them of snickerdoodles, which makese sense given the prevalence of the cinnamon.  I expected the upper layer to be a little more buttery and gooey-er than it actually was, but that didn't bother me.  And it did become gooey-er after a day or two.  All in all I considered it to be a very pleasant cake.  It tasted (and looked) homemade and just struck me as a very simple dessert (notwithstanding how long it took me to put it together).  I could see making it if I ever had people over for brunch.  It didn't blow me away and I wouldn't make it the centerpiece of a dinner party, but I think brunch would be the perfect opportunity to make it again.  Then again, I might prefer a french toast bread pudding, which would be equally brunchy and potentially more scrumptious...

Recipe after the jump!

Gooey Cinnamon Cake
Adapted from David Lebovitz

For Cookie Base
1 1/2 cups (190g) flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons (115g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup (150g) sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature
1/4 cup (60ml) whole milk
For Soft Gooey Layer
1/4 cup Steen's cane syrup (or golden syrup)
1/4 cup whole milk
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
12 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 large egg, at room temperature
1 1/4 (155g) cups flour
For Cinnamon Topping
2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

Line a 9- by 13-inch cake pan with foil, leaving an overhang on all four sides. (I overturn the pan, shape the foil over the bottom, remove it, then flip the pan over and ease the foil into the pan.) Spray the foil in the pan with nonstick spray or brush with melted butter.

Preheat the oven to 350ºF (180ºC).

Whisk together the 1 1/2 cups (190g) flour, baking powder, and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a small bowl. Beat the 8 tablespoons (115g) of butter and the 3/4 cup (150g) of sugar in the bowl of stand mixer with the paddle attachment, or by hand, until light and fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes.

Add the egg and the milk and mix in, stopping the mixer to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Stir in the dry ingredients, until fully incorporated. Put the mixture in the cake pan in dollops (it’s too thick to spread if you add it all in the same place), and spread it into an even layer with an offset spatula.  (You don’t need to clean the bowl; you can reuse it for the next step.)
In a small bowl, whisk together the corn syrup or golden syrup with the milk or cream, and vanilla.

Beat the 12 tablespoons (170g) of butter with the 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (225g) of sugar, and salt until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg, scraping down the sides of the bowl.

Add one-third of the 1 1/4 cup (155g) flour, then half of the milk/corn syrup mixture. Add another one-third of the flour, then the rest of the milk/corn syrup mixture. Then stir in the remaining flour. Dollop the batter over the unbaked cookie layer and spread evenly.

Mix together the 2 tablespoons of sugar and cinnamon, then sprinkle it evenly over the cake.

Bake the cake for 25 minutes, or until the cake feels slightly damp, but gently set in the center. Remove from oven and let cool on a wire rack. When cool, lift out the cake using the overhang of the foil, and cut the cake into 1-inch (3cm) squares.

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