Thursday, March 13, 2008
Celtic Oatmeal-Coconut Crunch Tea Cake
I thought I was going to skip baking tonight -- just didn't feel like messing with anything. But then I found myself paging through a couple of books and eying a couple of recipes. After considering and dismissing several recipes I really thought I was going to give myself a night off when I flipped to this recipe in my Passion for Baking book.
Like the Vintage Caramel Cake, this recipe looks different from most other cake recipes out there. It's a one-layer, 9-inch round cake topped with a broiled oatmeal & coconut frosting. I've certainly never seen or tasted anything like it, but it sounded like something I wanted to try. As an added bonus, the author (Marcy Goldman) says it's a typical Irish cake, and with St. Patrick's Day right around the corner that makes it perfect. Of course, I'm not quite sure that coconut is a traditional Irish ingredient, but whatever.
The bottom line is that this cake is good -- very good. Granted, the topping is incredibly sweet and rich, but it contrasts so nicely with the cinnamon-oatmeal flavor of the cake. Actually, that's kind of what the whole thing reminds me of... a super sweet and rich bowl of cinnamon & brown sugar oatmeal -- which actually isn't all that surprising if you take a look at the list of ingredients. (on second thought... it's also really similar to a pecan pie filling too -- just in cake form) Chris and I had our piece while it was still warm from the oven and it was difficult for me to hand the plate over to Chris. I really wanted more, but I also like my current pant size so tough choices have to be made.
I was a bit worried when I pulled the finished cake out of the oven because you bake the cake until it's done, then spread the topping on and broil for a few minutes to make the topping melt and bubble -- but what about getting the cake out of the pan? I was actually going off for a bit about why the cake wasn't baked in a springform pan which would have made perfect sense -- although thinking it through a little more carefully, I have a hunch the cake batter was too runny for a springform. In the end, it didn't matter. The cake popped right out of the pan with no problems. We pulled the invert on one plate, then invert right-side-up on another plate routine, and it worked perfectly.
But this incident actually goes back to one of my quibbles with this book -- certain things just aren't very clear and that can get annoying. She doesn't really tell you how long to mix things, she uses the wrong words for techniques (i.e. fold the flour in with the mixer -- folding flour is fine, but you sure don't use a mixer to do it), and in this case, it would have been helpful if she had addressed the issue of the pan. Most times I might not notice, and as a fairly experienced baker I can sort through 90% of these issues with no problems, but despite all the good recipes in this book, I couldn't recommend it to a beginner baker because of all these sorts of issues.
1/4 cup boiling water
1 cup very hot milk
1 cup quick cooking oats
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 1/4 cups firmly packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups flour
1 tsps baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
pinch ground nutmet
1/8 tsp salt
Oatmeal-Crisp Broiled Topping
4 tbsps unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/4 cup half-n-half or whipping cream
1/2 cup sweetened shredded coconut
1/4 cup quick cooking oats
1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
Preheat oven to 350. Generously spray a 9-inch round cakepan with nonstick cooking spray. Place on baking sheet.
In a medium bowl, stir boiling water, hot milk, and oats together and let stand 20 minutes.
In a mixer bowl, cream butter with brown sugar until smooth. Mix in eggs and vanilla and blend well. Fold in oat mixture and then flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Blend to make a smooth batter, making sure no butter/sugar bits stick to the bottom of the mixing bowl. Spoon batter into prepared pan.
Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until cake springs back when gently pressed with fingertips. Remove cake from oven.
Meanwhile, while cake bakes, in a medium bowl blend together all topping ingredients.
Set the oven on broil. Spread topping on cake and place cake under broiler on second shelf for 3 to 5 minutes until topping begins to bubble, watching carefully so it does no burn. Cool well.