Sunday, January 20, 2008

Recipe Review: Pecan Toffee Coffee Cake

One of my absolute favorite cookbooks is In the Sweet Kitchen by Regan Daley. (That's saying a lot if you've seen my collection, which is currently staging a coup on my dining room.) It was an IACP Cookbook of the year for good reason. The first half of the book is dedicated to a discussion of equipment and ingredients, including an extensive chart of substitutions. Many of my friends' and family's favorite baked goods are versions of those found in this book - including "apple lumpy" and caramel pecan shortbread sandwiches.

So, I woke up yesterday morning at 10 ( I had been feeling like I was teetering on the brink of an impending cold), and I wanted something in the line of sweet, carb-saturated decadence. I was debating upon crepes, lemony pancakes, belgian waffles, but the thought of standing for close to an hour on my hideously hard, frigid, tiled kitchen floor, incessantly ladling and flipping was not appealing to me. So I reached for Regan Daley and her Pecan Toffee Coffee Cake.

Since i cannot ever seem to either have all the ingredients listed in a recipe nor trust the recipe writer, I made some changes. I had to use yogurt in place of the sour cream, and I added some almond extract to the batter (almond extract and/or ameretto = sultry sexy food).

One of my biggest mistakes in substitution was trying to use a 9 inch square pyrex dish instead of a bundt pan. I realized after layering the batter and filling in the pan that if it rose I would have a molten smoking pecan toffee oven floor on my hands. In an attempt to save my breakfast I scooped some out into a shallow divided pyrex dish. Surprisingly, that portion turned out the best. In lieu of that observation, I recommend that you do use the suggested bundt pan in order to get the correct ratio of crispy edge to soft insides. I also recommend after layering you mix in the filling ever so gently. The pyrex coffee cake was much more dense because it took much longer to cook, which resulted in tough edges.

Nonetheless, the result was an almondy cake with a tender crumb and crispy edges. Doubtless I do need to follow directions, but I have to say it was still pretty delicious. The espresso/cocoa powder blend in her filling is a touch of pure genius.

Because I'm afraid this really would border on copyright infringement with my two tiny alterations, I'm not going to post this particular recipe. But I'd be glad to lend you the book or copy the recipe if you like.


This is what I will go to in the future on the (admittedly very few) occasions when I'm craving a good coffee cake. I would however, prefer to cook in in one of those "all edges" brownie pans and top with a nice streusel.

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