cinnamon roll cake with crunchy almond topping

cinnamon roll cake with a crunchy almond topping

breakfast breads are some of my favorite things.  sweet, tender, yeasty, full of cinnamon and when warm from the oven, nearly impossible to resist.  swirled breads and rolls always catch my attention and if i am making a batch at home, you can be sure it will be some sort of cinnamon swirled, yeast raised bread.  lately, i have seen any number of monster sized rolls baked in a cake pan and decided to take that route.

a standard sized recipe that would normally make about a dozen rolls was rolled out into a thin rectangle that measured 24″x 10″.   to make the filling, i broke out my secret recipe which is the topping for another of my favorite breakfast breads, a concha.  if you are unfamiliar with conchas, visit a hispanic bakery; they are large, fluffy sweet rolls with a crunchy cinnamon topping that has a shell pattern to it.  a buttery cinnamon mixture is spread on the dough and then the dough is cut into 2″x 24″ strips.  the strips are continuously wound around each other to make a giant spiral of dough and filling.  it is placed in a 10″ cake pan and allowed to rise so that it fills the pan.

but as always, i didn’t stop there.  to top off the cake, i cooked up a batch of my favorite almond topping.  there is a traditional german cake called a bienenstich, bee sting in english, which is made of layers of cake with custard filling and a crunchy almond topping.

the topping is made with butter, almonds, cream, flour, honey and brown sugar  and it is cooked until it boils.  the hot topping is spread over the completely risen cake just before baking and then the cake goes into the oven so the magic can happen.  after about an hour, the cake is ready; cool it in the pan for at least 10 minutes then carefully remove it.  one note, i never use springform pans.  the thin gauge metal allows the outside of the cake to burn before the inside is cooked and they always leak!  just use a regular 10″ cake pan and when it is cool enough to handle, place a plate on the top and invert the cake.  pull off the cake pan, place another plate on the bottom of the cake and invert it again.  then prepare the drizzle and drizzle away!  this cake is best served while still warm from the oven but it reheats nicely.

makes 1 (10″) cake serving at least 12

dough recipe
1 1/4 cup milk
1 package yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons)
6 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 egg, at room temperature
about 4 cups all purpose flour,
cinnamon filling, recipe follows
crunchy almond topping, recipe follows

gently heat the milk to about 100 degrees F.  add the yeast and stir it to combine.  allow the mixture to sit until the yeast starts to get foamy.  add the sugar, salt, butter, egg and about 3 cups of the flour and mix to make a soft dough.  using the dough hook with the machine on medium low, continue to add enough flour that comes together and forms a smooth that cleans the sides of the bowl.  continue to knead the dough for about 5 minutes then place it in an oil bowl to rise until doubled, about 1 1/2 hours.

while the dough rises, make the cinnamon filling and set it aside at room temperature until needed.  when the dough is ready, remove it from the bowl and place it on a large flat surface.  using a rolling pin and a small amount of flour, roll the dough out to a long rectangle measuring 10″ x 24″.  spread the filling evenly over the surface.  using a pizza wheel/pastry wheel, cut the dough into long strips measuring 2″ x 24″ each.  starting with one strip, roll the dough up into a spiral and place it in the center of a 10″ heavy gauge aluminum cake pan (not a spring form pan) that has been greased and lined with parchment paper -grease the paper too.  take the remaining strips of dough and continue to wind them around the spiral to make a giant cinnamon roll.  cover the cake with plastic and allow it to rise until it fills the pan, 1-2 hours or place it in the fridge overnight, take it out and allow it to sit at room temperature for about an hour before baking.  while the cake rises, make the almond topping recipe.  just before baking, spread the topping evenly over the cake almost to the edges.  preheat the oven to 350 and bake until a pick inserted comes out clean and the internal temperature in the center is 195 degrees F.

allow the cake to cool on a rack for 10-20 minutes.  place a plate over the cake, invert it, remove the paper and cover the bottom of the cake with another plate and invert it again.  drizzle a little white glaze over the cake if desired (1 cup powdered sugar mixed with a tablespoon or two of milk to form a glaze with the consistency of honey).

cinnamon filling recipe
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 egg
1/2 cup all purpose flour
in a small mixing bowl, cream the butter with the brown sugar, salt and cinnamon until fluffy.  add the egg and mix well.  sift the flour over the mixture and combine to form a smooth, spreadable batter.  keep at room temperature until needed.

crunchy almond topping
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons light brown sugar
2 tablespoons wildflower honey, or other light honey
1 tablespoon half and half
3/4 cups sliced almonds
place the butter, brown sugar, honey and half and half into a saute pan.  heat over low heat until the butter melts.  turn the heat up to medium and bring to a gentle boil.  allow the mixture to boil for about 2 minutes, stir in the almonds and remove from the heat.  spread the topping over the cake so that it covers the top but leave a half inch border around the edge to prevent it from running down the sides of the cake and causes sticking.

strawberry savarin; a tuesdays with dorie rewind

a while back, the tuesdays with dorie bakers made the savarin recipe.  first we mixed up a batch of baba au rum dough.  it was ridiculously easy to do-a simple yeasted cake batter was placed in a pan and allowed to rise for a brief period.

look at how light and fluffy it is, and it rose so quickly too!  it baked up fast as well.

we made a simple syrup to soak the cake with.  apparently, that is the key to an authentic savarin, lots of syrup soaked up by the cake.

by spooning small amounts over the cake, it all gets absorbed.

to decorate it, lots of whipped cream and fresh berries.  a classic, a true classic.  i brought it to a potluck dinner, i blinked, i missed it.  all i got was the dirty plate.  good thing they are easy to make, if i want to try this one myself, i will have to make it again.  and when i do, i’m not sharing…to see what the other bakers came up with, check out the tuesdays with dorie page.

currant-rosemary bread

the rosemary put on quite a show in the herb garden.  not only was it about 4 feet tall, it was covered in blooms.  the honeybees were working those flowers like crazy too.  not one person walked through without noticing the shrub, yes shrub-it is that big now.  hard to believe that just two years ago, it was in a tiny little plastic pot from the nursery.  we only placed it in the bed to fill a hole.  if only i had this much luck with everything i plant!
with the bumper crop of rosemary, i decided to make a yeast bread rather than a cake to take to the garden.  then, while skimming through some of my cookbooks, i found an interesting recipe in a book that has been living on my shelf but has seen very little use.  i cannot remember when i bought this copy of beth hensperger’s “bread for all seasons” but the recipe for rosemary raisin bread was the perfect compromise; a yeast raised coffee cake that is both bread and cake.  brilliant, just brilliant i say!  best part, very little kneading!!!  best part, the bread toasts nicely so don’t worry about it getting stale, just slice it and toast it.
since i prefer currants, i used them in place of the raisins and i gave them a good soak first.  it is important that you plump up the currants in some hot water or they will dry out the bread.  first, measure the currants while they are small and dry.  place them in a pan and cover them with water.  bring the water to a boil over medium heat.  immediately turn off the heat, remove the pan from the burner and allow the currants to sit in the water until they cool.  drain off any excess liquid before using the currants.  while the recipe calls for 1-2 teaspoons of dried rosemary, i used fresh leaves from the garden.  since the flavor of dried herbs are usually a little stronger, i would generally say to use half but for this recipe, i think using more of the fresh is a good thing.  the fact that it is softer than dry rosemary is also a plus since there aren’t any twig like pieces to pick out.  
currant rosemary bread
1 large bundt or tube cake serving 16
2 cups currants
1 tablespoon active dry yeast
pinch of sugar
1 cup warm water, 105-115 degrees
5 1/4 to 5 3/4 cup unbleached all purpose flour
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped a bit
2/3 cup nonfat dry milk powder
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon salt
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
4 eggs

plump the currants by covering them with water in a sauce pan and bringing them to a boil.  immediately turn off the heat and set the pan aside to cool, 20 minutes or so.  strain them well before using.  in a small bowl, combine the yeast with the pinch of sugar and the warm water.  stir to dissolve and then let it sit until foamy, about 10 minutes.  spray a large bundt or tube pan with grease, or brush it with some oil, set it aside.

in a large bowl, or the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, combine 1 cup of the flour, dry milk, sugar, rosemary, salt, olive oil and the eggs.  beat this mixture until smooth.  add the yeast mixture and 1 1/2 cups more of the flour.  beat for 1 minute and then let it sit for 20-30 minutes.  add the currants, and the remaining flour 1/2 cup at a time until a soft dough forms that clears the sides of the bowl.  if necessary, mix by had at this point.  the dough is capable of absorbing a lot of flour so add it cautiously-it should not stick to the bowl much and will no longer have a “wet” appearance.

turn out the dough onto a floured work surface and knead until smooth and springy, about 3 minutes.  if needed, add additional flour 1 tablespoon at a time to prevent sticking.  form the dough into a cylinder that will fill the tube pan evenly.  you can place it in the pan and squeeze it and shape it to fit the pan evenly.  brush it with a little oil, cover with plastic and allow it to rise at room temp until double, about 2 hours.  about 20 minutes ahead of baking, preheat the oven to 350.

bake the cake until it has filled the pan, is evenly browned and firm to the touch.  this will take about 45 minutes to an hour, a cake tester can be used to check the interior.  when done, turn it out of the pan onto a rack to cool completely.  serve with softened butter and jam if you like.  the leftovers make amazing toast too so none should go to waste!