It’s finally time to reveal our December cake…hooray! This is my second month in the Cake Slice Baking Club, a group of bakers who all bake the same cake each month as a way to learn from one another and share in eachother’s baking successes and flops. This month, we baked our second selection from Carole Walter’s Great Cakes cookbook, and it feels like I’ve been waiting an eternity to reveal this month’s selection to all of you.
In fact, as you may be able to tell from the pictures, I baked this cake a few weeks ago…before the snow flew here in Minnesota.
My window for outdoor, natural light photography has closed for the season, as our deck is now covered with a few inches of snow. Plus, it might really look odd for me to be trudging outside in my snowboots with a cake and camera trying to contort myself to get all the right snapshots from every conceivable angle without landing in the snow or succumbing to frostbite.
Anyway, I baked the cake early, because we were going to be on vacation for a week and a half, and I didn’t want to have to even think of rushing home from here…
…to bake a cake.
And, I definitely didn’t want to think about it while we were relaxing here…
Oh, the beauty of a sandy beach escape when it’s -15 degrees back at home!
Utter paradise….well, except for this guy, who stole my sandwich:
No lie…the BIGGEST SEAGULL EVER!!! More than twice the size of the rest of them…clearly the leader of the pack and more than a little bit frightening.
Oh right…the cake.
Each month, my fellow bakers and I vote on the following month’s cake, and the winning cake for December was Streusel Squares. This one was pretty straightforward to make: Step 1 – Bake in 9×13 pan; Step 2 – Cut in squares and serve.
I followed the directions exactly, except that I removed my cake from the oven at 35 minutes and it was done, although the top never really browned. Several of my fellow bakers made the same observations on the timing and lack of browning.
Nevertheless, this was a tasty cake. Light. Crumbly. Perfect with a cup of coffee. I’d say it’s more like a coffee cake. Cake for breakfast, anyone???
(from Great Cakes by Carole Walter)
1/3 cup (2/3 stick) unsalted butter
1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
¾ cup (1 ½ sticks) unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 large egg yolk
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup milk
1 large egg white
1. Position rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat to 350⁰F. Butter a 9 x 13 x 2” pan.
2. To make the streusel topping: melt the butter. Cool slightly. Add the flour, sugar and cinnamon all at once and stir with a fork until the mixture forms small crumbs. Take a handful of the crumbs and make a fist to press the mixture into a large clump. Then separate into smaller clusters, at least two or three times the size of the original crumbs. Repeat until all of the crumbs have been reshaped. Set aside.
3. To make the cake: Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
4. Cut the butter into 1-inch pieces and place in the large bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment to soften on low speed. Increase speed to medium-high and cream until smooth and light in color, about 1 ½ to 2 minutes.
5. Add the sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, taking about 6 to 8 minutes to blend it in well. Scrape the sides of the bowl as necessary.
6. Add the eggs and additional yolk, 1 at a time at 1-minute intervals, scraping the sides of the bowl as necessary. Blend in the vanilla.
7. Reduce mixer speed to low. Add the dry ingredients alternately with the milk, dividing the flour mixture into three parts and the milk into two parts, starting and ending with the flour. Mix just until incorporated after each addition. Scrape the sides of the bowl and mix for 10 seconds longer.
8. Spoon the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the surface with the back of a tablespoon. Beat the egg white lightly with a fork. Using a pastry brush, spread about half of the beaten egg white over the top of the cake batter. Discard the remainder. Sprinkle the entire surface of the batter generously with the streusel. Gently pat the crumbs into the batter with the palm of your hand; do not press hard.
9. Center the pan on the rack and bake in the preheated oven for 40 to 45 minutes, or until the cake is golden brown on top, begins to come away from the sides of the pan, and the streusel is crisp. A toothpick inserted into the center should come out dry.
10. Remove the cake from the oven and set on a cake rack to cool. When ready to serve, dust the top with confectioners’ sugar and cut into squares.
Wanna check out how my fellow Cake Slicer Bakers did on this recipe? Click on their links here: