Blueberry buttermilk breakfast cake.

Blueberry buttermilk breakfast cakeThis cake has a story.

I believe I first spotted this glorious blueberry buttermilk breakfast cake on Pinterest (sigh, where else?) in 2011, which lead me this fantastic recipe posted on Alexandra’s Kitchen. The heady rush of anticipation I felt when pondering zesty lemon and gorgeously plump blueberries pretty much forced me to rush to the store to get ingredients. Plus, it was a breakfast cake. Ergo, healthy. (Am I right? Please tell me I’m not alone in this rationalization.)

Anyhow, I had to have it. Couldn’t wait!

So when I took the cake out of the oven, I was beyond excited. I was animated. I was ecstatic. Indeed, I was even dreaming of the day I’d open my own bakery and people would line up for the blueberry cake and I’d have to fend off hoards of fans – including Daniel Craig and Clive Owen, dressed in impeccable Tom Ford suits – because they were so devoted to the glory of this cake. The sugary crust looked divine. The heavenly combination of lemon zest and blueberry smelled like summer in cake form. Best of all, it was made from scratch and it was a work of art and I did it all on my own and it was going to be the best thing EVER. And then I took a bite.

I gagged. And just like that, my hopes shriveled like a pathetic, forgotten week-old balloon. All I could taste was salt…so much that it actually stung my tongue. It was absolutely revolting. Not even the underlying hint of lemon and the unbelievable moist texture could save it. It went directly in the bin. (Not even the hubby could stomach it, which is really saying something, considering he will eat all the expired contents of our fridge without flinching.)

Turns out, when this novice baker was reading the recipe, she saw teaspoon…and then proceeded to add a tablespoon of salt. Seriously. I rocked it like amateur hour.

This incident scarred me so deeply that I avoided this recipe for almost two years, even though I kept it in my recipe binder and it taunted me on a near-daily basis, serving as a handy reminder of my colossal failure. Damn thing made me laugh bitterly every time I flipped past it.

And here we are, January 2013. Last night, I was putting away my printout for crockpot bolognese sauce (via Skinnytaste – it’s AH-MAZING!) and the cake recipe caught my eye…and something clicked. I happened to have some buttermilk. I also had some lemons. Et voila, I just bought two pints of blueberries on sale during lunch.

It was meant to be.

I assembled the cake as if it were the most natural thing the world, which I’ve noticed happens now that I cook almost every day. I’m no longer stressed. I put my faith in my growing skill (and that of a good recipe) and just have fun. The more time I spend in the kitchen, the more comfortable I am – it’s so obvious that it’s almost not worth saying. But it’s true. It’s even become my zen downtime, like a meditation of sorts. I start chopping, measuring, sautéing, stirring, whatever…and I just enjoy the task. I don’t think about work. I don’t give a second thought to any other stressor in my life. I simply focus on creating something tasty.

I would be lying if I told you I didn’t pay extra attention to the salt, however. While I may be turning into buddha on a mountaintop, I’m certainly not stupid. Nor could I bear making the same mistake twice.

The cake really is extraordinary. The recipe is indeed a keeper; I’m glad I held on to it these past few years. I had to bake it a good 10-15 minutes longer than instructed, but other than that – perfection. And the buttermilk (I used a lowfat one from Trader Joe’s) really makes a difference. You can always make your own buttermilk, if needed, using lemon juice or vinegar.

Blueberry buttermilk breakfast cake.

So I guess this story is less about a cake than it is about me and how I’ve grown as a home cook. I am fascinated by how we keep learning, growing, adapting – regardless of how old we are. It’s one of those things that I remind myself on those days when I feel a little down. Look how far I’ve come. Look how much I’ve learned. And not just about cooking. Buddha on a mountaintop indeed!

Advertisements

Cinnamon swirl bundt coffee cake.

coffeecakeforkI like the smell of cinnamon rolls more than I like the taste. I think it’s something to do with the sickly-sweet frosting, which I’ve never really liked. Sure, I like sugar, but I like to taste more than that, if you know what I mean.

This weekend I really wanted something cinnamon-y for breakfast, but immediately ruled out cinnamon rolls because of the whole yeast thing. Didn’t have it on hand, plus I’m totally lazy (that has not changed during my hiatus from blog-land). I scoured the interwebs for a cinnamon breakfast recipe…and finally, I found one. And with a few tweaks, it turned out lovely.

Without further ado, I present to you a super-easy, super-delicious recipe for a cinnamon swirl bundt coffee cake that will make your house smell of two of the world’s most wonderful foods – cinnamon and yellow cake. And it pairs beautifully with a french press coffee, which is all we drink in my house.

What’s not to like? The cake tastes like cake – not like sugar – and it has a nice cinnamon zing, a moist texture and a perfect crumb.

Image

The best part? Every single ingredient is probably already in your pantry and fridge. Now that makes this lazy girl happy! I threw this together in my Kitchen-Aid mixer at 9 p.m. on Saturday, glazed it once it cooled…and headed off to bed, the house smelling like a piece of cinnamon cake heaven.

The original recipe is on Allrecipes, which is one of my favorite sites because I can take a quick look through reviews and see what other people changed or found challenging about the recipe. The trick, as is with most recipe sites, is not to read too many reviews, because that’s overload and lends itself to some major confusion. And I don’t need a dozen back-seat bakers in my mind, thanks.

The changes I made were small but important – first, I doubled the contents for the cinnamon swirl. I’m not so sure I would’ve loved this cake had I not done that. I can’t imagine that the cinnamon flavor would’ve been as prominent otherwise. I was worried that 2 tablespoons of cinnamon would be overpowering, but it was spot-on. I used brown sugar instead of white for the swirl mixture, too.

I also ignored the recipe’s instruction to mix the sugar and eggs together first. I went with the tried-and-true method of creaming the butter and sugar together first, instead. I also didn’t bake at 400 for 8 minutes before switching to 350, as original recipe says; I just did 350 for the entire duration. Otherwise, the outside of the cake might’ve been overdone, I think. And I took the recipe for the glaze from the comments. I thought the end result was nice, but I’m not a big powdered sugar glaze person; I would love your thoughts for a better topping/glaze. Please let me know in the comments section below!

Also, I should note that this cake batter is thick, so don’t feel like you’ve done something wrong if it doesn’t pour easily from the bowl into the pan. You may need to help it along.

INGREDIENTS

FOR CAKE BATTER

  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 3/4 cup butter
  • 1 1/2 cups white sugar
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 eggs

FOR CINNAMON SWIRL

  • 2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans

FOR GLAZE

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease and flour one 10 inch bundt pan.
  2. Cream 1 1/2 cups white sugar with butter. Add eggs, one at a time, until incorporated. Stir in vanilla. In a separate bowl, mix together flour, baking soda, and baking powder. Alternating between flour mixture and sour cream (starting with and ending with flour), add to batter mixture in small amounts until fully incorporated. (I switched back and forth about three times.)
  3. Mix brown sugar, nuts and cinnamon in separate bowl.
  4. Pour half of the batter into the prepared pan. Sprinkle generously with the cinnamon sugar mixture. Cover with remaining cake batter. (I did two cinnamon swirls because I thought it would look better; so I poured in a third of batter, covered with half of my swirl mixture. Then poured another third, then covered with remaining swirl mixture. And poured final third on top.)
  5. Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 40-45 minutes or until done.
  6. Once cool, mix glaze ingredients (powered sugar, vanilla and milk) and pour over cake. (I just mixed everything together in a liquid measuring cup and poured very slowly, but I think it would have looked nicer if I had tried using the Ziploc-method; pouring the glaze into a Ziploc, then cutting off the tip and drizzling with the improvised piping bag. It certainly would’ve given me more control.)

So there you have it. Here’s the final product, before I sliced into it. I love that you can see the cinnamon swirl – and some of the nuts – from the outside.

Tell me….

What kind of glaze would work better? I’m not so sure I’m a fan of this powdered sugar recipe. Do you know of a winner that would be perfect for this cake? What about streusel? I like the idea, but not sure if my heart can handle more butter than what’s already in the cake.