The Cake Slice: Cinnamon Pecan Coffee Cake

Cinnamon Pecan Coffee Cake 1

When I began working on “Hot Oven, Warm Heart” a few months back, I was absolutely blown away by the warm welcome and positive feedback I received from the baking and blogging community. As I embarked upon this new endeavor, I was hoping to pursue my passion, expand my skills, and chronicle my culinary adventures, but more importantly, I wanted to form meaningful connections with other people along the way. After joining the Sweet Melissa Sundays group, and getting to know many of the amazing members- all talented bakers with shining spirits, open minds, and kind hearts, I realized I had stumbled upon a rare opportunity to become a part of something truly special. United through a shared experience, the many miles that separate us seem to fade away as we all sit down at one huge virtual kitchen table to enjoy the same slice of freshly baked cake, bite of warm, gooey cookie, or forkful of rich, crusty pie. With each supportive comment, piece of advice, or word of encouragement, new friendships are fostered and the close-knit online family that has formed grows stronger. I am no longer alone when tackling my latest recipe- rather, I have a team of lovely ladies, scattered all over the world, who are always cheering me on, whisking, beating, stirring, kneading, and mixing right alongside.

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I am delighted that today marks the start to a new chapter in my blogging career, as one of the most recent additions to another fabulous online baking group called The Cake Slice Bakers. For the last year, they baked their way through arguably the most innovative book on the market featuring layer cakes, Sky High: Irresistible Triple Layer Cakes by Alisa Huntsman. It was through reading many of their posts that I was persuaded to purchase a copy of my own, and I have since utilized it time and again with phenomenal results for all my celebration cake baking needs. When I read that the group would be moving on to a second cookbook, and temporarily accepting more members, I jumped at the chance to join, eager to take the next step on this inspiring journey, and meet a whole new batch of baking bloggers. Each month we will be trying a different recipe from Southern Cakes: Sweet and Irresistible Recipes for Everyday Celebrations by Nancie McDermott, featuring 65 charming, down-home, sinfully delicious recipes that reflect a region steeped in rich culinary tradition. As a Boston girl born-and-raised, I’m anxious to discover some exceptionally unique cakes that reflect this Southern heritage, and have been passed down from generation to generation. The recipes cover a wide range of cake styles, everything from Bourbon Pound Cake, Lady Baltimore Cake, Lemon-Filled Coconut Cake, and Tomato Soup Cake to Charleston Huguenot Torte, Red Velvet Cake, Blackberry Jam Cake with Caramel Glaze, Chocolate Mayonnaise Cake with Divinity Icing, and Mississippi Mud Cake. We’re kicking things off with a winner, an out-of-this-world Cinnamon Pecan Coffee Cake, and if this choice is any indication, The Cake Slice Bakers have succeeded yet again in their book selection, unearthing an impressive literary gem that just might have found a permanent home on my cookbook shelves.

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Coffee cakes first appeared on the table in seventeenth century Europe, where the earliest versions consumed alongside a cup of coffee were more akin to the sweet yeast breads popular at that time. Recipes for the tasty pastry came to America along with German, Scandinavian, and Dutch immigrants, and during colonial times, the German and Holland communities in New York, Delaware, and New Jersey were famed for their delicious variations. By the late 1800’s, coffee cake recipes evolved, and those being published in cookbooks for everyday American homemakers more closely resembled the cake-like sort we’re used to today. Coffee cakes are instantly recognizable and distinguished by the inclusion of streusel, (a German word meaning “something scattered or sprinkled”). This classic filling and/or topping is a deliciously simple mixture of sugar, flour, butter, spices, and oftentimes nuts, that is usually layered between a sour-cream cake batter and baked into a superb treat- the perfect accompaniment to a cup o’ joe.

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The Cinnamon Pecan Coffee Cake from Southern Cakes is a fabulous representation of the old-timey dessert. Supremely moist with a delicate, tender crumb, it is bursting with flavor and contrasting textures thanks to the crunchy nuts and juicy raisins in the generous streusel. While assembling the cake, I was worried that the proportion of batter to cinnamon sugar mixture was off, fearing filling domination. I was pleasantly surprised to be proven wrong, and found the finished product was well balanced, even with a substantial center swirl, and plenty of sweet crusty topping. Exceeding my expectations, it’s a real crowd-pleaser that would be appropriate not only to serve as a casual complement to morning coffee, but also as an impressive and elegant dessert for a more formal occasion.

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Although I’m confident I will be baking it again in the future, my only grievance with this yummy cake is due to the extensive preparation. I dirtied many a bowl while assembling the different elements, and temporarily turned my kitchen counter into a (well-organized) mess. With a few other coffee cakes under my belt, I felt that this one was a bit fussy by comparison, especially when it came to distributing the rather thick batter on top of the filling. It was not feasible to simply spoon on a mound of batter and spread it evenly with a spatula without pulling up the carefully scattered mixture, and eliminating the possibility of maintaining defined layers. To circumvent this issue, I used a teaspoon to place small dollops of batter close together all over the filling, and then carefully smoothed them out with the back of my spoon, taking care to bring batter all the way to the edge of the pan. It took some extra time and patience, but in the end it paid off, and I was quite pleased with the finished cake’s visual appeal. I also utilized two of my favorite tricks when prepping ingredients- plumping the raisins in boiling water (with a touch of vanilla for flavor) so that they would remain moist during baking, and toasting the pecans. Even if it’s not indicated in the recipe I always toast my nuts, which does wonders to bring out their intense, robust flavor. Of course, these are small touches, but sometimes it’s the little things that elevate a baked good from ordinary to extraordinary, and allow it to realize its full potential.

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If you’d like to give this memorable coffee cake a try, here’s a link to a printable recipe. I can’t wait to experiment with more of the delectable delicacies found in Southern Cakes, and I’m so happy to be exploring this book with The Cake Slice Bakers. A big thank you goes out to the other members who permitted my admission into the group- I’m really looking forward to getting to know all of you! Isn’t it wonderful that cake has the power to bring people together?

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Joy Heart 2

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36 responses

  1. Thanks for the email and stopping in at my blog! OMG! You have some yummy goodies on your site! Your cake slice post makes me want a piece of coffee cake and a glass of milk!! I will defintely be back for recipes!!!

    Happy Baking!
    Jen

  2. your cake looks soo great. I love it. I really liked this cake too but I don’t like chocolate too much so this was right up my alley. I’m really excited about this book too.

  3. Your photos made me want to lick the screen, the cake looks so tasty! This was my first cake with the CSBers as well, and I’m looking forward to baking with you in the months to come! And PS – can you explain how to get the CSB badge on the side like you have? I have a wordpress blog, and can’t for the life of me figure it out.

    Happy baking!

  4. Your cake turned out beautifully, even with those raisins. : ) I’m not a fan and left them out of my cake. I wrote about all the dirty dishes too. It is definitely more work than your average coffee cake, but it was a huge hit with my family, so I’ll likely bake it again.
    Thanks for the kind comment on my blog. I’m off to browse through yours now.
    ~ Michelle

  5. Hi Joy!
    I’m glad you posted on my site, as I have perused yours before and have enjoyed the pictures, recipes and insight….
    Cake Slice is going to be so much fun, I love having an excuse to bake new things, and especially to share the experience and get to know new people….
    This cake smelled so good, initially I was nervous with all that cinnamon…but it worked didn’t it? My 16 year old son practically ate the whole cake himself and wants more!
    BTW…I love the quality of your photos…great job!
    Sandi

  6. Hi Joy! Thanks for visiting my site. It’s so great to bake with others and learn from them too. I’m thrilled to have joined Cake Slice Bakers because it gives me a chance to bake more. I love your photography. I’m still learning with my camera. I tend to have problems with lighting in the house. I’m happy to hear you are taking a Michael’s course. I learned a lot and had a great instructor. I took all 4 courses and it was worth it. I hope you get a lot out of it and just have fun :o)

  7. That cake looks wonderful!

    I just joined your Operation Baking Gals team on the East coast. I’m excited to bake up some treats for those who serve our country. 🙂

  8. Hi Joy! I’m so glad to make new friends! I’m so happy to hear you have started Wilton classes. I finished my classes about a year ago. If cake decorating is what you want to learn then you took the right step. There is still alot I would like to learn but that will come with more practice. I can’t wait to see your class projects, I hope you share with us! By the way, I noticed you live in Boston. I never realized how pretty it is their. My daughter is away on a National FFA Convention in Indiana. Boston and New York were part of the trip. Her teacher has updated us with photos back home. I hope to visit one day. I look forward to baking together. I hope my next cake turns out better. Thank you for stopping by to say hello.

    Anabel

  9. Thanks so much for commenting on my blog. I really didn’t think anybody ever read it- I just do it as an outlet for my adventures in baking. It’s a pleasure looking at your photos- I’m not good at that at all. Hopefully I will someday be able to get more than a simple point and shoot camera and improve my skills. Looking forward to reading more of your posts. Happy baking!

  10. Thanks so much for commenting on my blog. I really didn’t think anybody ever read it.
    It a pleasure looking at your photos.I’m not good at that at all. Hopefully someday I will be able to get more than a simple point and shoot camera and improve my skills.
    Looking forward to reading more of your posts.
    Happy baking!

  11. Hi Joy! Thanks for the warm welcome and visit to my blog! What a great post! I’ve been with TWD for about 7 months and it’s amazing how familiar you become with other bakers all over the world. It’s a really great support/supportive group and I’m sure The Cake Slice will be as well.
    Holy cow, your cake turned out really nice! Your photos look fantastic too! See you next month! =)

  12. The coffee cake is so much prettier with the raisins and your pictures are great! Loved the tip about plumping the raisins in water and a bit of vanilla. I will use that idea next time.

  13. Welcome to the group Joy! Thank you so much for stopping by my little blog. I agree with you about the support and friendship bloggers share. It is such a remarkable community! Your cake and photos look wonderful and I look forward to our future projects “together”.

  14. Hello,

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    petitchef.com

  15. Your cake looks absolutely fabulous…I agree with you about the batter being thick. I had a bit of a pain getting it to spread so I’m glad you shared your story so I can learn from your experience too.

    Looking forward to baking with you again over at the Cake Slice. Thanks for cheering me on with my post!

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