Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Toffee bundt cake with a sweet surprise inside...

I asked Jeff this weekend when the last time was that we made a cake for the weekly Wednesday Treat Day. One nice thing about the blog is we can go back to see just how long ago that was! I searched and found the last one was that spectacular Crunchy Milk Chocolate–Peanut Butter Layer Cake back in November.

I'm not sure that this dark golden Brickle Bundt Cake is in the same league as that massive chocolate cake, but it is certainly just as tempting!

Inside this dense cake are two distinct layers of caramel-esque toffee bits mixed with a bit of sugar, crunchy toasted walnuts and our favorite Vietnamese cinnamon (I can't tell you how much I love having Penzey's not more than 5 miles away from our house again!).

Now, don't read into dense as being heavy and dry - with a full cup of sour cream, this cake is very moist and quite tender. One technique that I found interesting in this recipe was drizzling a few tablespoons of melted butter on top of the assembled batter, before placing the pan in the oven to bake. I turned the oven light on halfway through and found myself distracted from cleaning up for a few minutes as I watched that butter slowly bubble down into the rising batter.

Do you ever say a little prayer when you un-mold a cake like this? Thankfully, the cake easily released from my bundt pan - but I was a little worried that the toffee bits would bleed through and end up making the cake stick. I love using those baking sprays that have flour in them (I prefer Pam with Flour or Baker's Joy) and have never had a cake stick yet! For a little teaser of what's to come inside the cake, a light confectioners' sugar glaze is drizzled over the top to give some sticking power for a sprinkling of those sweet crunchy toffee bits.

Since I knew we would do our part in the "quality control" department, I figured we should off-set our treat tonight and make sure dinner would be pretty healthy. This Couscous Salad with Roasted Vegetables and Chickpeas dish was just the ticket to fill up our bellies!

You know how much of a fan we are of roasted cauliflower and I bet you already know that we both were tapping our fingers waiting for this to finish so we could dig in. Adding some sweetness to the crisp cauliflower is the addition of chunky sliced carrots this time. The duo is slicked up with a drizzle of olive oil and seasoned simply with smoky cumin, salt and fresh ground black pepper. Because of the volume of vegetables, you will want to spread this mixture over two baking pans to ensure the vegetables have enough room to spread out and evenly cook. While they roast away, quick-cooking whole wheat couscous is cooked in vegetable broth (again, the original recipe called for water, but this is a great opportunity to introduce more flavor!) for just 5 minutes and then set aside to cool. Adding moisture and a bright tangy flavor, a dressing to coat the salad is whisked together from fresh lemon juice, lemon zest and just a touch of oil.

The nutty couscous is tossed together with the tender (but not mushy) roasted veggies, some chickpeas for protein, a few thinly sliced scallions for a mellow onion-y flavor and is then drenched with the tart dressing. Since I already had a bunch of fresh spinach leftover from that quinoa bake last night, we served the hearty mixture over a few of the tender leaves - but try some arugula if you would like a contrasting peppery bite.


  1. This looks like a delicious cake! I also love adding sour cream to my cakes to keep it moist and tasty. :)

  2. What a nice treat they'll get tomorrow. I'm kind of jalous. This would be perfect with my morning cup of Java.

  3. What a wonderful cake! I know what you mean about unmolding cakes...I sort of hold my breath when I do it. Specially when I can't use parchment to help. Great blog! Thanks for sharing.

  4. Wow, does that cake look wonderful. My husband would love it, if I left out the nuts. Do the toffee bits on the inside melt, or do they stay crunchy?

    I love your Bundt pan. I have a weakness for baking pans (desserts, too)! :o)

  5. Joe the Cake looks so pretty!
    And the quinoa salad sounds delicious! One more for me to try, yay!! I love quinoa too!!

  6. Ooops, I meant the couscous!!! At first I thought it was quinoa and then realized it was couscous!! (sorry!!) - but hey, it might have been good with quinoa instead of couscous too!

  7. Lori - Yes, sour cream does wonders for cakes!

    Helene - Wish I could send you a slice!

    Katie - I know, parchment is a great tool to use when you have a flat bottom pan!

    Tracy - both! Some melt, while some retain a firm texture.

    Ana - hee hee, no problem! It would probably be good with quinoa too!

  8. Joe: I found you on Egullet and have been reading this blog ever since. You really are a talented cook. I would like to see you get a book contract. Your cooking and writing style reminds me of Betty Rosbottom who was also in the Midwest.

  9. tfsgw - Thank you for the wonderful compliment!