Sunday, December 22, 2013

Cake Slice Bakers - December 2013: Strusel Squares

I can’t believe it’s been almost a month since my last post. My life has just been so hectic with school and life and just everything that I haven’t baked anything new! I just keep baking these brownies over and over again because it’s quick, easy, and absolutely delicious. Oh and you can never go wrong with chocolate.

However I’m glad to come back with a Cake Slice post! I had to miss November’s cake (the first cake of our new book, Great Cakes by Carole Walter) due to, you guessed it: school. I was determined to make December’s cake though (even though it is a tad late)!

I’m not a big fan of coffee cake, so when this cake won I wasn’t too thrilled. This cake was a nice surprise though! I usually find coffee cakes to be so dry and flavorless, but this one had a nice crumb and good flavor.

One of the ladies suggested using half the amount of vanilla extract along with some almond extract. I must say that this was a very good idea. I think I may have added a tad too much almond because I can definitely taste the almond extract. It’s not a bad taste, but it gives off a very sweet flavor.

I know I must seem crazy when I say this but I don’t like crumb toppings. Wait, what? How can I not like crumble topping? It is pure sugar and perfectly acceptable to eat it for breakfast if it’s laid out over cake and muffins so what’s not to like? Well, truth be told, I just don’t like eating pure sugar! The crumb topping on this cake actually wasn’t too sweet and I actually enjoyed it. I think it has to do with the great amount of flour in the mixture.

I’m please to say that I have had at least one success out of this wonderful looking book and I can’t wait to bake more from it! Now if only I could get some extra baking done before school starts to take over my life again.

Strusel Squares
Makes one 8x8 inch pan
Slightly adapted from Great Cakes by Carole Walter

Crumb Topping
2 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
½ cup + 2 tbsp. unbleached all-purpose flour
5 tbsp. + 1 tsp. dark brown sugar
½ tsp. cinnamon

1 cup + 2 tbsp. unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. salt
6 tbsp. unsalted butter, softened
½ cup sugar
1 egg + 1 egg yolk
¼ tsp. pure vanilla extract
½ tsp. pure almond extract
½ cup milk
1 egg white

Place rack on lower third of oven. Preheat oven to 350 F. Line an 8x8 inch square baking pan with foil and grease with cooking spray.

In a small bowl, whisk together the melted butter, flour, brown sugar, and cinnamon. Mix until the topping looks like coarse sand.

In a medium bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment beat the butter on medium speed until smooth. Pour in the sugar in and beat until the mixture is light and fluffy. Beat the egg and egg yolk in. The mixture will look curdled, but that’s ok. Once the eggs are fully incorporated stir in the vanilla and almond extracts. Fold in a third of the flour mixture followed by half of the milk. Repeat with the next third of flour and the rest of the milk. Fold in the remaining flour.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Whisk the egg white to break it up. Brush a little bit of the egg white on top of the batter (this will help the crumb stick to the cake). Sprinkle the pieces of crumb topping over the batter. Gently pat the topping to secure it into the batter. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the cake. Cool the cake in the pan for 5 minutes before removing to a cooling rack to cool completely. Cut the cake into squares and serve with hot coffee, tea, or a big heaping spoonful of vanilla ice cream if you want it for dessert.
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