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...
- 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.
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.