Spiced Crumble Cake with Chocolate Frosting

12:37 am

Well, it’s the time you’ve all been waiting for – the first actual baking post! (Please, contain your excitement)

This past weekend was our annual girls weekend at my house so I wanted to bake a treat for that festivity.  Last year, I made a very time-consuming Peppermint Meringue Cake with Chocolate Buttercream that was well-received (though it’s richness meant some was leftover for the following week…what torture that was to finish, I tell ya) but I knew I wouldn’t have the same time to dedicate this year.  I also hoped to avoid spending too much on additional ingredients as I anticipated other costs for the weekend.

I settled on the two-whisk Spiced Crumble Cake with Chocolate Frosting from Bon Appetit Desserts.  The cookbook rates their recipes on a 1-4 whisk rating system to indicate the level of difficulty, but don’t let that intimidate you…many of the more difficult-rated recipes seem to require more time and patience that anything else (though I may be changing my tune once I get there).

This cake was straightforward and didn’t take too long to put together…one of my sisters arrived earlier than the rest on Friday and I was even able to make this while maintaining a conversation (no standing ovation, please).  It was fun to bake with her there and she helped sample the batter to make sure it was “okay to bake.”

 

Speaking of fixes, my aunt taught me a handy little trick when I was attempting to instead of succeeding at spreading the slightly thick frosting on the cake.  She got a glass of hot water, dipped a spoon in it, had me shake it off and use it to spread the frosting – what a miracle!  This could probably be used with any metal spreading device (knives or spatulas), but I liked the ridged look the spoon gave it.

I hope, someday, to be able to frost a cake so it looks as smooth and glassy as an ice-slick in winter (though minus the frozen-in dirt), but it’s those peaks and valleys of frosting that just scream “homemade” in a way that a plain of frosting can’t.

Friday night, however, my aunt brought a cheesecake that was the highlight of the evening (and her first ever, no less!).  It was so delicious – especially with her homegrown raspberries – that we didn’t even have room to taste the crumble cake as a group that first night.  That’s why, when my sister and I were the last women standing – well, half sitting/half laying down really – at 5:30am on what was now Saturday morning, we determined that it would be in everybody’s best interest if we tested the end product for safety as well.

Queue photo shoot.

The cake-tasting was a much better idea than our next scheme to attend a 6am yoga class…thankfully, the earliest weekend class started at 7am which was enough to move it beyond the realm of possibility…after all, our sugar rush was only going to last so long.  It’s also worth noting that the wine accompanied – rather than preceded – the cake eating (it was, after all, past 5 o’clock…isn’t that how it goes?).

The cake had mixed reviews when everybody had a chance to try it which tells me it’s not a universal go-to, but worth it for the right crowd/situation.  It definitely had a coffee cake aspect to it rather than a lighter, wetter cake.  As my mother put it, the denseness would make it a better fit for an early afternoon treat with coffee or tea rather than an after-dinner dessert.  The pecans in the crumble are powerful enough to turn away those who aren’t nuts fans but others wondered what it’d taste like with a more powerful pecan flavor – perhaps if they were toasted.

I only ended up using about half of the frosting – always a win if you ask me – so you could get away with making about half the amount specified…though if you did that, where would you get a quick chocolate fix from right before bed?

There’s something about the way the three flavors (the cake, the crumble and frosting) melded that was subtler than I anticipated.  There wasn’t an overwhelming sweetness – especially with the lesser volume of frosting – though the frosting brings out the sweetness in the cake so it’s no completely absent.  Sometimes it’s nice to have something that doesn’t taste quite as sinful as it probably is.  I’d like to try it sometime with twice as much crumble content as called for to see how that balance would end out.  I’d also like to take the cloves or allspice out of the mix for a batch (I haven’t decided which yet…let me know if you do).

This, my friends, is one of my major baking dilemmas.  When good ol’ Father Time grants me the chance to bake, do I go for a recent recipe with experimentation and alteration in mind or do I take the opportunity for an all-together uncharted territory sort of adventure?  Both are equally enticing.  Sigh…such dilemmas.

As I had hoped, I was able to pick-up only a few extra ingredients as I had much in-stock already.  I always try to buy the highest quality products for at least some of my ingredients – especially dairy products – so this made the overall total a bit higher.

additional costs:

  • pecans – $4.25
  • organic valley butter – $6.19
  • 1/2 gal organic valley milk – $3.79
  • (2) 4 oz bars semisweet chocolate – $5.90
  • 1 8oz pkg cream cheese – $2.99

total additional cost: $23.12

So here, as originally found in Bon Appetit Desserts, is the recipe.  Please let me know if you made it (with or without any modifications) and how it went for you!

Printable Recipe

Spiced Crumble Cake with Chocolate Frosting
courtesy of Bon Appetit

yield: Serves 8

Ingredients
Crumble
• 1 cup pecans (about 4 ounces)
• 1/3 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
• 2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) chilled unsalted butter, diced
• 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder

Cake
• 2 1/3 cups unbleached all purpose flour
• 1 tablespoon cornstarch
• 1 teaspoon baking soda
• 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
• 3/4 teaspoon salt
• 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
• 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
• 3/4 cup sour cream
• 1/4 cup whole milk
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

• 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
• 1 cup sugar
• 3/4 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
• 5 large eggs

Frosting
• 6 ounces semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
• 1 8-ounce package cream cheese, room temperature
• 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
• 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
• 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

Preparation
Crumble:
Blend all ingredients in processor until nuts are finely chopped.
Cake:
Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter and flour 13 x 9 x 2-inch baking pan. Whisk first 7 ingredients in medium bowl to blend. Whisk sour cream, milk and vanilla in small bowl to blend.
Using electric mixer, beat butter in large bowl until fluffy. Gradually beat in both sugars. Beat in 3 eggs, 1 at a time. Beat in 1/2 cup dry ingredients. Beat in 2 eggs, 1 at a time. Beat in remaining dry ingredients in 3 additions alternately with sour cream mixture in 2 additions.
Spread 3 cups batter in prepared pan. Sprinkle with crumble; press lightly into batter. Spread remaining batter over crumble to cover. Bake cake until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 35 minutes. Cool cake in pan on rack.
Frosting:
Melt chocolate in top of double boiler over simmering water, stirring until just melted and smooth. Cool to room temperature. Using electric mixer, beat cream cheese, butter and vanilla in large bowl to blend. Beat in powdered sugar in 3 additions, then cooled chocolate and cocoa.
Spread top of cake with frosting.
Do Ahead:
Can be made 1 day ahead. Chill until frosting is set; cover and keep chilled. Let stand 1 hour at room temperature before serving.

 

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