Coffee Cake of Christmas Past
by Amanda Usen
Here is a recipe for Moravian Sugar Cake, adapted from Richard Sax’s CLASSIC HOME DESSERTS, one of my favorite cookbooks. For those of you wondering what the heck “Moravian” is: it’s Protestant religion, my father’s religion, in fact. There are pockets of Moravians left in various spots around the country such as Winston Salem, NC, and Hope, IN, my father’s birthplace.
Makes two 8-inch coffee cakes
Bake at 375 for 25-30 minutes
The mashed potatoes are purported to keep this cake moist until the next day. However, I’ve been eating the thing my whole life, and I think it’s best in the first few hours out of the oven. It’s darn addictive and rarely last until the next day in my house. I find myself taking one more little nibble, then another…and another. If yours lasts until the next day, I recommend toasting it, and then putting EVEN MORE butter on it! It has a rather coarse crumb, but the irresistible combination of brown sugar, cinnamon, and massive amounts of butter make it so, so fine.
2 packages yeast (½ ounce)
¼ cup plus 1 Tablespoon sugar
½ cup lukewarm milk, divided
3 cups all-purpose flour
½ cup cooked leftover mashed potatoes
6 Tablespoons (¾ stick) melted butter, slightly cooled
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 Tablespoon cinnamon
½ cup (one stick) butter, melted
1. Stir together the yeast, ¼ cup of the lukewarm milk, and the 1 Tablespoon sugar. Set aside for 10 minutes, until your yeast becomes bubbly. (If it doesn’t bubble, your yeast is dead. Buy new yeast!)
2. Combine yeast mixture, remaining ¼ cup sugar, remaining ¼ cup milk, half of the flour (1 ½ cups), mashed potatoes, melted butter, eggs, vanilla, and salt. Beat by hand or with an electric mixer and a dough hook until dough comes together. It will be VERY loose. Mix 2 minutes longer on medium-low speed. Add remaining 1 ½ cups flour. Mix 5 more minutes on medium-low speed. The dough will become smooth, but will be quite sticky.
3. Place the dough in a buttered bowl, turn to coat with butter, and cover. Let rise until doubled, about 1 hour.
4. Butter your baking pans. Divide the dough into two pieces. Lay it in the pans and encourage it to cover the bottoms. Cover and let rise for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, combine the brown sugar and cinnamon for the topping.
5. Melt the butter for the topping. Then dimple the dough with your fingers to create deep pockets. Spread the brown sugar and cinnamon topping over the top of each cake, then drizzle the melted butter over the topping. As it bakes, the butter and sugar will sink into the pockets, creating deliciousness!
6. Bake at 375 for 25-30 minutes, until it begins to get brown around any tiny edge that might not be covered by the topping. I tend to overbake them, and then complain about it, so watch them carefully. If your pans are shallow, place something beneath them to catch the drips. These cakes love to rise, and the topping might need somewhere to go.
7. Cool briefly and serve warm. Mmmm…Christmas!
It’s always a delight to visit Ex Libris, so thanks so much for having me! I hope ALL of your holidays were lovely and that your New Year is filled with joy!
Book #1 in the Hot Nights series
Jackson Calabrese has a lot of nerve. He beat Lila Grant in the Culinary Academy competition using her recipes. Now, he’s opening a restaurant and wants her help? Fine, she'll fix his menu, but it's going to cost him.
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