If you love cinnamon buns, you're going to love this gorgeous coffee cake with an adult twist. So many times, delicious coffee cakes are baked in loaf pans, and they just don't have the same wow factor.
I found this recipe in a new book I purchased, "Baking for All Occasions" by Flo Braker, which I have been poring over for weeks now.
There are few photos in this 396-page book but it is full of tips about technique and variations on old classics. Already, dozens of ripped Post-it Notes are peeking through the pages.
This was the first recipe I tried from this book and it won't be the last. The wafting smell of cinnamon was enough to win me over from the beginning.
Below, you will find the recipe with some adaptations.
Yield: One 9-inch round cake, 14 to 16 servings.
2 1/2 to 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 1/4 tsp. (1 envelope) instant yeast
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground cardamom (If you don't have any, increase your nutmeg and cinnamon)
1/8 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/8 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/3 cup whole milk (1 per cent milk worked as well)
2 oz. (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
1/4 cup water
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
2 oz. (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
2 tbsp. dark corn syrup (light corn syrup worked too)
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
2 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
To Make the Dough: Mix 2 cups of the flour, the sugar, yeast, salt, cardamom, nutmeg, and cinnamon in the bowl of a stand mixer; set aside. In a small, heavy saucepan, combine the milk and butter and melt over low heat. Add the water and put the saucepan for about 1 minute.
Pour the milk mixture over the flour-yeast mixture and mix well with a rubber spatula until all of the dry ingredients are moistened. Attach the bowl to the mixer. You will be using the paddle attachment. With the mixer on low speed, add the eggs, on at a time, beat after each addition until incorporated. Add the vanilla in the final moments of mixing. Stop the mixer, add 1/2 cup more flour and resume mixing on low speed until smooth, 30-45 more seconds. Add 2 tablespoons additional flour and resume mixing on medium speed until the dough is smooth, still soft, and slightly sticky, about 45 seconds.
Sprinkle the work surface with 1 tablespoon of flour and centre the dough on the flour. Knead the dough gently until it is smooth and no longer sticky. It is likely that you will need to add an extra 1-2 tablespoons flour to prevent stickiness. Place the dough in a large bowl, cover the bowl securely with plastic wrap, and let the dough rise in a warm place until doubled in size, which should take about 45-60 minutes. The dough is ready when a finger gently pressed into it leaves an indentation. Meanwhile prepare the baking pan, the glaze and the filling.
To Make the Butterscotch Glaze: Lightly coat a 9 by 2-inch round cake pan with nonstick spray, or butter the pan. Combine the sugar, butter, and corn syrup in a small, heavy saucepan and set over low heat until the butter is completely melted. Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and tilt the pan to cover the bottom evenly, set aside. Don't worry if the glaze thickens slightly, it will liquefy again in the oven.
To Make the Cinnamon-Butter Filling: In a small bowl or cup, stir the cinnamon into the butter; set aside.
Before Baking: Centre a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
To Assemble the Coffee Cake: Gently deflate the dough. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out the dough into a 16 by 12-inch rectangle. Using a pastry brush, spread the butter-cinnamon mixture evenly over the dough. Cut the dough lengthwise into six 2-inch-wide strips. Try to keep the strips consistent in size otherwise the height of the cake will not be even. A pizza cutter works just great. Loosely (so the dough has some give as it expands in the oven) roll up 1 strip and place it, cut edge up, in the centre of the prepared pan on top of the glaze. One at a time, coil the remaining dough strips around the centre one, starting each strip at the end of the previous seam. The butter-cinnamon side of the dough strips should be facing inside. You will see the large spiral begin to form. (Don't worry if there is space left in the pan, it will fill up as the dough bakes.) Loosely cover the pan with plastic wrap and let the cake rise in a warm place until it is almost doubled in size, about 30 minutes.
Bake the coffee cake until the top is deep golden brown, about 35 minutes. Check after 20 minutes to make sure the cake is not browning too fast. While I kept a close eye on my oven and temperature, the cake did brown too fast. If it is, cover the top loosely with aluminum foil for the last 10-15 minutes of baking to prevent overbrowning. Remove foil if you used it, and let cool for 10 minutes.
Tilt the pan and tap the sides on a counter to release the cake sides, using a small rubber spatula if you need to loosen it some more, or a butter knife. Place a serving plate on top, leave the pan on the cake for 1 minute, so the glaze transfers to the cake, then gently lift off the pan. Using a rubber spatula, scrape out any butterscotch syrup remaining in the pan and spread it over the warm surface of the cake.
Serve the cake warm or at room temperature, cut into wedges gently with a serrated knife. It's best served the day it is made.
As you may have seen above, I used light corn syrup instead of dark; I skipped the cardamom because I forgot to buy it and increased the cinnamon and nutmeg. I worried it might overpower the dough, but that wasn't the case. I also used 1 per cent milk rather than whole - not that I recommend this, but it worked in a pinch.
Would I make this again?
I would, particularly because I will be more confident about the techniques in this recipe, such as letting the dough rise, and forming the cake. However, I found the glaze was simply not enough, and I might even double the recipe to give it more moisture when served. Otherwise, I found this cake to be a little dry. Braker suggests spreading a layer of apple butter over the cinnamon butter and then baking as directed. This might be another good solution.
Four stars out of five. The cake is stunning in presentation, light and tasty, but a little bit dry, it almost has the consistency of and Italian panettone or Eastern European Easter cake and more glaze would have improved this cake immeasurably.