Cinnamon Cake

Breakfast cakes, also known as coffee cakes, are often rather dull, dry cousins to the much lighter dessert cakes, that usually come with a thick layer of whipped icing on top, and sandwiched between the layers, too. Oh sure, there’s the standby streusel, a yellowy, often dense cake, with swirls of cinnamon and bits of nuts embedded throughout. Then there are the various cake-like breads, baked in brick-shaped loaves, which can be made with all sorts of fruits – pear and apple in the cooler months; blueberries, strawberries, and apricots when it’s warmer – but these, too, I think, are not as interesting or as tasty as they could be. Don’t even get me started on banana bread.

I guess that I just can’t get over the absolute perfection of the Cinnamon Cake, a fluffy breakfast cake that defies gravity, lifting itself, almost cloudlike, off of the plate and into my mouth, bite after delicious bite.

Mom and I found this recipe in Gourmet magazine in 1976 – and while the jury is still out on who made it first — we’ve both been happily making it ever since.

I’ve never had anything else like it, and nothing comes close to matching its cinnamony goodness, in the morning, or any other time at all. I’m in love with this cake. It ranks #2 on my top five most favorite cakes of all-time (the chocolate cake with white icing that my mom makes for my birthday is #1, in case you were wondering; I’ll share the rest with you as the blog continues).

Oh, and please notice the strawberry — not a scoop of ice cream — on the side of this cake.

Cinnamon Cake

1 cup (two sticks) butter, softened
1 ¼ cups sugar
½ teaspoon cinnamon
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 ½ cups flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 ¼ cups whole milk
⅓ cup sugar
½ teaspoon cinnamon

1. In a bowl, cream butter, sugar and cinnamon until the mixture is very light. Then, add the eggs and beat until combined.

2. In another bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt.

3. Add the flour mixture to the butter-egg mixture, 1/2 cup at a time, alternately with the milk, and combine batter just until it is smooth.

4. Pour batter into a buttered an floured 9-inch square cake pan, 2-inches deep (Tip: be sure to use a 9-inch pan, and not an 8-inch pan, which is the more common square cake pan size; otherwise you’ll have cake batter spilling all over your oven). Spread evenly with a spatula, and bake in the center of the oven for 45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

5. Sprinkle the still-warm cake with 1/3 cup sugar combined with 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, and serve.