Wednesday, June 3, 2009

{TWD} Cinnamon Cappucino Loaf Cake, two ways

Being a member of Tuesdays With Dorie - baking and posting a dessert recipe every single week - isn’t all fun and games. Nope, somebody has to eat the sweets! It’s a tough task, but luckily I have help; my husband Jim is my most appreciative and enthusiastic partner-in-carbs, except for chocolate which he cannot eat. Very often my baked goods are shared with our twice-monthly book group - four couples who originally came together through a church Bible study and now meet to discuss books that are spiritual in nature. (Currently we are working our way through Dante’s Divine Comedy; we’ve finished Inferno and Purgatorio and we’ll start Paradisio in the Fall)


In a situation that's closer the the biblical story of Mary and Martha than I care to admit, I often find myself on book group Thursday hastily baking the dessert, transporting it still warm, arriving at the meeting late, and, ahem, not finishing the actual reading assignment. Not only am I unprepared for the substance of the discussions, the dessert isn't even quite right because I finished it at the last minute. This week I turned over a new leaf.


This week's TWD selection was Cinnamon Squares, chosen by my blogging and Twittering friend, Tracey of Tracey's Culinary Adventures. You can find the recipe on her post. This is a straightforward, uncomplicated recipe; perfect, I thought, for book group day. I would bake it early then have the rest of the day to do my reading, undistracted by kitchen tasks. My crowning achievement would be to arrive on time, with perfect dessert in hand, and fully prepared to discuss the assigned chapters. My virtue would shine like a veritable beacon...

n.o.e.'s notes:
- Although the recipe is called Cinnamon "Squares", the astute among you will realize that I've called mine a "Loaf Cake" because I didn't bake it in a square pan, nor did I cut it in squares to serve it. I'm just a rebel that way, I guess. I baked a full recipe, but split it into two different-sized pans, mostly to avoid my 8 x 8 pan, which is Pyrex. I was determined to use a metal pan, and didn't really care about the shape. After a ridiculous amount of time with the calculator, I chose a 2 lb loaf pan along with a mini loaf pan so I could make a non-chocolate version for my husband.

- As a side note, I began compiling a chart of my pan sizes and capacities so that in the future I can change pans without having math class each time.

- I'm generally not a fan of cinnamon + chocolate, and if it were just for me, I might have done something crazy like adjust the recipe. But since I was serving 8 people, I decided to stick closely to original recipe and get feedback from my tasters, who are excellent about giving it to me straight.

- In a baking-day consult with the week's book group hostess, H.Y. (she has three school-aged children and is the one most likely to inherit the leftovers), we agreed that the cappucino variation in the "Playing Around" sidebar sounded delicious. Coffee + chocolate is always a winning combination for me, and for H.Y., too! The variation involved adding a good shot of extra espresso powder to the cake batter to go with the espresso in the cinnamon-sugar filling

- I made just one change in the recipe, to improve the health quotient just a bit. Rather than using the full 10 T of butter, I subbed 3 T nonfat yogurt, and used 7 T butter. I kept true to the recipe in all other respects (although I was tempted to throw in some white whole wheat flour). Next time, I think I'd go half butter and half yogurt.

- For my mini loaf I used about 1/4 of the dough. I sprinkled chopped toasted pecans in the center rather than the chocolate chips. Before baking, I crumbled streusel (equal parts of sugar, butter, nuts, whole wheat flour) over the top.

- I baked the cake just after breakfast and set it in the dining room to cool. I was so ahead of the game! In the late afternoon I began my reading, paying close attention and checking all of the footnotes and endnotes. Oh, was I ever being the good little Mary (having been the good Martha in the morning!) It was getting close to meeting time when I suddenly realized that I'd forgotten all about THE FROSTING!

- This was the quickest melting-chocolate-making-frosting I've ever done. In the craziness, I ended up with chocolate glaze and not thick fluffy chocolate frosting. I didn't have time to cool it or thicken it, so I poured it on and took a hasty picture. It was too bad not to have the lovely swirls of frosting like the cake in the book, but I didn't mourn it for long because, yes, I was late yet another week. And I hadn't finished the reading. And I was carrying a just-finished dessert that was not quite right. Again. Sigh.

- In all the excitement I totally forgot to take any pictures of the mini cake - There was one little end piece left after the meeting. I snapped a shot before it became J.D.E.'s breakfast the next morning.

- If you click over to Kayte's post. you can see a picture of my cake at H.Y.'s house - doesn't H.Y. have a pretty plate? Anyway, Kayte had just a single picture of her cake, and it was lonely so I sent a picture of mine over to keep it company.

the verdict:

I was very surprised at how much I liked this cake. It was lovely and moist (the yogurt and the non-Pyrex pan helped, I think). The cinnamon and coffee flavors of the cake were nice together and the chocolate frosting added the finishing deliciousness. All of the book group testers, and H.Y.'s children too, really liked it.

My daughter, J.D.E. had a slice of the leftover frosted cake, and hers was the lone dissenting voice. She thought that the cake was too intense, with too many disparate flavors competing. She loved the streusel version, though, as did everyone who tasted it. It was a lot more like a coffee cake. Well, with that espresso flavoring, it was more like a coffee-coffee cake.

Book group meets again this week, and I'm going to see what I can do about increasing the Mary and decreasing the Martha (but still arriving with delicious food in hand!)

I apologize for posting this on Wednesday, not Tuesday. I lost my internet connection for 18 hours on Tuesday and it was impossible for me to post! This is the first Tuesday that I've missed since joining TWD nearly a year ago. Amazingly, I found that even though I did not post by the deadline, the world still turned.

26 comments:

Leslie said...

this page really helps me a lot when i have to change pan sizes

http://www.joyofbaking.com/PanSizes.html

hopefully it will help you!

jillbert said...

I thought something was wrong with my Google Reader because your blog didn't pop up with a new post! :)

I had to skip this week again, but I may have to try the cappuccino version someday.

Kayte said...

And don't think we did not appreciate the contribution of your photo to keep my lonely little ONE company and to show people what it really should look like...LOL. I personally prefer the Cinnamon Rectangle as they look easier to eat and they are a pretty shape. Everyone was having fun with your photo on my site btw...LOL. It all looks great, was fun to read about the whole process, including book group. And, last of all: is that conversion chart going to be for sale on Ebay anytime soon because I could certainly use a copy of that! Name your price.

Cathy said...

Fun post! I skipped the ganache altogether on purpose (as I am a firmly entrenched chocolate/cinnamon hater by now and wanted to minimize the chocolate) yet still felt rushed somehow. Your book group is lucky to have you showing up with these goodies every week! Thank you for both the loaf pan idea and the streusel idea. I'm with JDE on this one - loved the streusel version but not the chocolate version. Your espresso version sounds really wonderful, and I will definitely try swapping yogurt for some of the butter next time around.

Tracey said...

Thanks for baking with me this week Nancy! I love your idea to top the squares with streusel instead of frosting!! I have to try that. Glad you were pleasantly surprised by this one :)

Pamela said...

Now that I've read a couple of posts where people have put streusel on their cakes, I am so in the mood to make this again. I have to stop myself though, because it would be just to dang dangerous. Looks wonderful both ways to me. :o)

mike said...

I was getting concerned.... Is Nancy ill? Did she break her hands? Does she not like cinnamon? Looks fab - as usual, I agree, my frosting kept melting everytime I would swirl it... but the combo was great. Love that you did the espresso route - I'm definitely going to try that next time. You can finish the book this weekend! :)

Natashya said...

As your friend, I will gladly eat any of the sweets that you bake and your man can't eat.
It's the least I could do. :)
Looks great!

pinkstripes said...

Yes, the world still turned, but we all wondered where your post was! :P

The struesel version sounds delicious. I'll have to try it.

Katrina said...

Glad you finally posted. I tried looking at yours after I saw your photo on Kayte's blog and was bummed to see you hadn't posted. I strongly dislike computer issues!

Your cake looks and sounds yummy. Looks like your chocolate did set for the top picture and it looks great. I was surprised that I liked the cinnamon/chocolate combo as much as I did as well.

Madam Chow said...

You are brilliant. I rarely think of subbing yogurt for butter until after the fact. I'm going to keep that in mind for coffecake like desserts!

Jules Someone said...

I really want to try a non chocolate version of this cake. I did mine in a Pryrex and it turned out ok.

Megan said...

I saw your streusal version on Cathy's site - it looks and sounds like a great idea.

And you rebel, making a loaf cake instead of a square!

TeaLady said...

Nancy - you are too much. I have started making most of the TWD as 1/4 or 1/2 recipe. And the pan is important.

Since I am not working now, I don't have anyone much to give the goodies away to. **Sigh**

Great looking cake.

Karen said...

You have to be glad you can contribute your goodies to the book club, even though you might not always be able to contribute to the discussion. I'll bet no one is complaining!

lasinthekitchen said...

Your Cinnamon Loaf Cakes look fabulous! It's good to know that the two versions are both delicious. And it's also really good to know that you can sub yogurt for butter. I have to try that next time because my cake came out a bit on the dryer side.

Di said...

Thanks for the yogurt idea--I did it, too, and it worked great. Next I want to try the streusel. I loved the flavor of the cake, but didn't really care for the chocolate with it. Like you, I think I'm just not a fan of chocolate with cinnamon.

natalia said...

Ciao Nancy ! I was worried about you ! I thought the freezer had gotten you !!!Great cakes ! I forgot the butter all together and the results were not bad according to the nurses who even asked for the recipe !!!

dharmagirl said...

the streusel variation sounds tasty!

how are you liking Dante? I taught *Inferno* last summer and found it riveting--and the students loved it!

bakingwiththeboys said...

I would never have guessed to be a last minute baker/(non)reader. You always seem so ahead of the game! I loved the cappuccino version but I bet streusel is great too.

Joanne said...

The reason why I don't bake more often is because I have no one to eat the goods with me (or well a few people, but not enough...) so I understand rushing to bake for a crowd. Both of these look great, I am a coffee addict so cappuccino flavored things are right up my alley!

Steph said...

This cake was my breakfast too! Your bookclub members are so lucky. Sometimes all I want to do is bake, but eating everything can be tough!

vibi said...

I'm glad you ended up making them, when I didn't see them on Tuesday I thought you didn't. It would have been a shame... for they were sooo great.

I do like the shape you decided to give them, I like everything that cuts into thin slices... like those long rectagular french tarts.

Very nicely done, Nancy.

Leslie said...

The world still turned, but sun flares, political instability and natural disasters were right around the corner. Fortunately you're back, and with the insights that I appreciate so much from you. I made the cappuccino and we thought it was amazing.

The Food Librarian said...

You must have been the star of the book group this week! Looks great!

finsmom said...

Heavenly! I want some right now!