I am so excited to be starting a monthly blog series all about food! If you don’t already know, my husband and I met in culinary school and our relationship grew from working together in the kitchen. I operated a bakery, and he cooked at and managed a brewpub and bbq restaurant which shared the same kitchen as the bakery. Even when we weren’t working, we still loved cooking meals together on our days off, and some of my favorite early memories of us revolve around being in the kitchen together.
Even though neither of us work in the food industry any more, we still use a lot of those skills today. While our meals may not be as fancy as they used to be (#parentlife), Miguel gets creative cooking up healthy versions of our favorite foods, while I try to maintain that balance by baking yummies.
I polled Instagram and Facebook on what should be the first recipe of this series, and was surprised that the yummy vs. healthy race was so tight. So I decided to start with my roots, and share with you guys one of my favorite recipes from the bakery! Enjoy!
Cinnamon Pecan Coffee Cake
For the Cake:
For the Filling:
To start, preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and spray a 8×11 pan (or 9×9) with nonstick spray. In a mixing bowl, beat together the softened butter and sugar until light and fluffy. This generally takes me about 10 minutes because I want it super fluffy. The longer you beat the butter and sugar, the lighter and fluffier the cake will be. While the butter and sugar are incorporating, mix the flour and baking powder in a small bowl. Also, now is a good time to mix the brown sugar, flour, and cinnamon for the filling in a separate bowl.
After the butter and sugar are nice and fluffy, add the eggs one at a time, making sure the egg is fully incorporated before adding the next. Add in the vanilla.
Add in ⅓ of the flour mixture, mixing on low speed until just barely incorporated. Add in ½ of the milk, again until just incorporated. Alternate adding ⅓ of the flour mixture with ½ of the milk until everything is just incorporated. Baking tip: When mixing anything that contains flour, the more you mix it, the more developed the gluten strands become. Well-defined gluten strands give a lot of structure to the finished product. With cake, typically, a soft crumb is desired, so you don’t want those gluten strands to develop very much. This is why we mix the batter just until things are incorporated and try not to over mix.
Now that the batter is ready, we can start layering the batter and filling. Add half of the batter to the bottom of the pan, and spread to create an even layer. Sprinkle half of the cinnamon-brown sugar mixture and half of the pecans over the batter. Drizzle with half of the melted butter. Spread the remaining batter over the filling, and top with the remaining cinnamon-brown sugar mixture, pecans, and butter.
Bake in a 350 degree oven for 40-50 minutes, or until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean. When testing a cake’s doneness, a little bit of moist crumb on the knife is a good thing. If the knife comes out completely clean, it could mean the cake is over-baked. Also, bake times could vary if you used a different sized pan, so I would determine the cake’s doneness by checking it every 5-10 minutes after it’s been baking for 30 minutes.
I love serving this right out of the oven, but if you have leftovers, just pop them in the microwave for 15-20 seconds for a little taste of heaven. You can also freeze leftovers by cutting the cake into the desired portions and wrapping each piece thoroughly with plastic wrap before freezing. I actually kind of prefer doing this because the freezing and thawing process adds a little more density and moisture to the cake.
Side note: You don’t have to use pecans if you don’t want to. You can substitute raisins, another nut, or just leave it out entirely.
If you try this recipe, I’d love to hear some feedback on how it turned out!