Saturday, December 11, 2010

Cranberry-Maple Pecan Breakfast Cake

I had high hopes for this breakfast cake. With tart cranberries, sweet maple syrup, and lots of pecans, I imagined this was going to be a keeper. This is from the new book Flour by Joanne Chang, the pastry chef and owner of the two Flour Bakery and Cafes in Boston, and I received a copy to review. This was one of those books that had me turning pages and walking toward the kitchen at the same time. It's full of irresistible looking treats and informative tips in each recipe. Chang's background includes an education in applied mathematics and economics, but her love of pastries inspired an eventual career change. She worked in other restaurant kitchens, including a stint in New York with Francois Payard, and then opened her own bakery in Boston. Her philosophy is one of "simple things are best" because even complex pastries start with the basics. Hence, the name Flour for her bakery. Those simple things throughout the book range from breakfast treats to cookies, cakes, pies, and tarts, and then there are other sweets and breads. I have a feeling I'll be mentioning this book frequently around here. I've already baked two items from it, and both were very well-received.

For this breakfast cake or pound cake or whatever you'd like to call it, maple pecans were made by warming pure maple syrup and toasted and chopped pecans in a saucepan. The goal was to stir the mixture and allow the pecans to absorb the syrup. Then, the pecans were cooled while the batter was mixed. Flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and butter were mixed, and the instructions include the amount of time for mixing with a stand mixer and a hand-held mixer depending on what equipment you are using. I like a thorough recipe like that. Then, in a small bowl, buttermilk, eggs, vanilla, and more maple syrup were whisked together before being added to the flour mixture. The liquid ingredients were added in two parts, and again mixing times were given. Last, fresh cranberries and the maple pecans were folded into the batter, and the batter was scraped into a parchment-lined loaf pan. It baked for just over an hour and filled the house with maple goodness all the while. Once it cooled, the cake was removed from the pan and topped with a thick maple syrup and confectioners' sugar glaze.

In the notes for this recipe, Chang writes that "the cake tastes remarkably like pancakes," and it really does. The maple flavor permeates the cake, and the pecans and cranberries accompany it well. I was so thrilled with the cake when I first tasted it, I declared it Christmas breakfast-worthy. And, if you have any left for the day after Christmas, it just gets better.



24 comments:

  1. Oh, it definitely looks good! I love the frosting just draping over the edge...very decadent- perfect for any holiday morning :D

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  2. I have been looking for make ahead dishes for the holidays and this is a winner Lisa.

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  3. This is such a beautiful breakfast cake. Love the frosting. So festive.

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  4. Note to Self: Add "Flour" to my Christmas wish list. (i promised to stay away from buying new books and cookbooks until after christmas. the agony!!!!)

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  5. Lisa, this looks delicious and "good on ya" to Chang for glazing a breakfast cake! This has completely opened up my mind as far as breakfast cakes go. I never ice or glaze, but since coffee cake almost always has a glaze, why not? Thanks! :)

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  6. A splendid cake! So seasonal, festive and delicious looking.

    Cheers,

    Rosa

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  7. What a gorgeous breakfast treat! The very last picture is my favourite.

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  8. The cake looks and sounds gorgeous. I just got this book as well and can't wait to start baking from it. I've got my eye on her cream filled doughnut recipe!

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  9. Awesome and beautiful looking cake!

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  10. It looks like a snow-capped mountain!

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  11. What a festive & grand looking cake!! waw!

    Now, I would like to savour a big piece, Thank you!

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  12. A breakfast loaf that tastes like pancakes, eh? that sounds like a holiday miracle if ever I've heard of one! Especially as it involves cranberries. So delicious.

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  13. This cake looks so gorgeous and delicious. I just may bookmark this and save it for a special occasion over the holiday season. Wonderful job.

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  14. tastes like pancakes? i'm sold. it definitely looks to have a poundcake-esque quality to it, and i like that very much.

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  15. Now this looks like a breakfast treat that's right up my alley of yummy things to consume. Did you say it tastes like pancakes...., yep.., you did. Awesome :)

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  16. This cake looks very festive and perfect for the holidays!

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  17. Oh my does this cake look divine!! Perfect for Christmas morning:)

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  18. What a wonderful cake. Sure would like a piece right now with my up of coffee!

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  19. Oh Lisa, this looks amazing and the maple syrup frosting looks so good!

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  20. This cake looks incredible with cranberries and pecans and the glaze looks so good! Yum!

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  21. I love the idea of soaking the pecans in the maple syrup - this book sounds like one I am going to have to add to my "wish" list!!!

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  22. Looks just delicious, I just saw an article with Change in F+W and as a result wanted to check out her book, now you have me hurrying to the bookstore. Looks just amazing

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  23. The frosting looks amazing! The white on the top and the speckled red makes it so right for the season. I baked ourselves a quick fruit loaf last weekend.

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  24. This certainly is a beautiful cake. I like how you described the maple soaked pecans. This would be a wonderful cake to wake up to Christmas morning.

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