Tuesday, October 20, 2009

TCS: Cinnamon Pecan Coffee Cake

For my first cake with "The Cake Slice" bloggers we made Cinnamon Pecan Coffee Cake from "Southern Cakes" by Nancy McDermott.

Yummy from the looks of the recipe. Not so much while making it although I need to make it clear that was my fault. I decided to halve the recipe at the last minute so there might have been some ingredients that I was off on. Plus on the spur of the moment I decided to improvise despite the fact that I know from experience that I really should try the recipe as it was called to be baked before I tweak too much so I can get a good feel for what I"m making. But that said, hopefully ignorance is indeed bliss as I realized while mixing that I was out of milk so i substituted whipping cream and then I was too lazy to reach for the regular sugar and brown sugar was handier so I used that.

So after mixing the cake batter up, I had my first misgivings as the batter was very thick. After deciding that maybe that's how it was supposed to be, I dumped half of it in the pan and spread it around. No problems, I am a baker, I can do this. Then reality kicked in as I discovered:

Problem #1: I had melted the butter in advance so it had congealed when I was ready to pour the butter over the streusel.
Problem #2: Trying to spread a thick batter over a cinnamon streusel topping is really a pain to do right.
Problem #3: I'm pretty sure I used the entire amount of butter called for the original recipe and not the halved version so there's going to be a  LOT of butter poured over the batter.

I took a quick peek at the cake about 10-15 minutes in (again, I know, not good but I was a little worried) and discovered that there was still layer of melted butter that had yet to soak in. Not a good sign.

When I pulled it out of the ovens, the edges were burned. And although the cake was firm in some spots, in others it was it was soft and buttery and goey.

It is definitely not the prettiest cake. But it is still hands down pretty yummy. I'd make it again for sure...just the right way that time.

 Cinnamon Pecan Coffee Cake
(Recipe from Southern Cakes by Nancie McDermott)
Makes a 13 x 9 inch sheet cake

For the Cake
3 cups all purpose flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup milk
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 eggs

For the Cinnamon Raisin Filling
1½ cups light brown sugar
3 tbsp all purpose flour
3 tbsp cinnamon
1½ cups raisins
1½ cups coarsely chopped pecans
¾ cup (1½ sticks) butter, melted   

Heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour a 13 by 9 inch pan.

To make the filling, combine the light brown sugar, flour and cinnamon in a bowl and stir with a fork to mix everything well. Combine the raisins and pecans in another bowl and toss to mix them. Place the cinnamon mixture, nut mixture and melted butter by the baking pan to use later.

To make the cake batter, combine the flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl. Stir the vanilla into the milk. In a large bowl combine the butter and sugar and beat with a mixer on high speed until pale yellow and evenly mixed, about 2 minutes. Scrape down the bowl to ensure a good mix. Add the eggs and beat for another 2 minutes, scraping down the bowl now and then, until the mixture is smooth and light.

Use a large spoon or spatula to add about a third of the flour mixture to the butter mixture and stir only until the flour disappears. Add a third of the milk and mix in. Repeat twice more until all the flour and milk mixtures have been incorporated. Stir just enough to keep the batter smooth.

Spread half the batter evenly into the prepared pan. Sprinkle half the cinnamon mixture over the batter followed by half the melted butter. Scatter half the raisins and nuts over the top. Spread the remaining batter carefully over the filling, using a spatula to smooth the batter all the way to the edges of the pan. Top with the leftover cinnamon, butter and nut mixture, covering the cake evenly.

Bake for 45 to 50 minutes, until the cake is golden brown, fragrant and beginning to pull away from the edges of the pan. Place the pan on a wire rack and allow to cool in the pan for 5 to 10 minutes before serving in squares right from the pan. The cake is delicious hot, warm or at room temperature.


  1. They look nice in the picture. There's nothing wrong with improvising, and you should definitely do it! Making mistakes is how you learn. I've made plenty of mistakes, and each time I learn how to make things better for the next time.

  2. I improvise a lot and use recipes as loose guidelines, these leads to a lot of adventures :) Not all of them are perfect but like Palidor said, that's how you learn.
    And as long as it tasted good, I say it was a success :)

  3. Palidor & Patricia...you're right. Sometimes I forgot there's lessons to be learned from our baking mistakes.

    It was very good for a mistake too.

    Patricia...thanks for visiting my site!

  4. Oh my that is some gooey butter cake but I bet is was delicious and moist. I have to admit, I added a little more butter than cakked for too :-)

  5. Welcome to the group! That must have been one gooey, buttery cake! Glad you like it. Maybe the double cream made your batter a bit thicker?

  6. Mine was crumbly too..but I agree it was one good cake :)

  7. Hi Dawn!

    I just wanted to stop by and introduce myself- My name is Joy and I’m one of the newbie Cake Slice bakers. I’m really looking forward to meeting other members, and I hope to have the chance to get to know you better as we bake our way through Southern Cakes :)

    Your cinnamon-pecan coffee cake looks absolutely delicious, and I never would've guessed you had such a crazy time with it. Way to go on your improvising skills- I probably would have panicked part way through, so I admire your bravery and baking perseverance. And in the end it tasted yummy, which is all that really matters, right?

    If you have a chance, I’d love for you to stop by my blog, “Hot Oven, Warm Heart,” and say hello- it’d be wonderful to hear from you!

    Have a great rest of your week and a relaxing weekend!