Monday, May 24, 2010

Cake of the Week: Oatmeal Cake with Coconut Pecan Broiled Icing

I eat oatmeal a lot. Really - like yogurt, apples, and popcorn, it's one of those foods I don't often go a day without. It's my lunch of choice: I start a mug of oatmeal around 1pm, and after a very scientific process of microwaving and cooling and microwaving and cooling, I usually finish said oatmeal around 2:30.But I've never blogged about it before. Because though delicious and satisfying, it's not that photogenic...and just not that exciting (but my apple butter-cranberry combo, or my pumpkin-raisin deliciousness may beg to differ).

But oatmeal cake? Well well well, hello Eat Run Read. I saw this recipe on Willow Bird Baking (one of my new faves - she was the genesis of the Cookie Dough Fudge Coffee Cheesecake shebang) and just had to try it. Not only is it absurdly quick and easy, but it's absolutely delicious. The topping has coconut and pecans, i.e. yum x 2! I mean really. Pecans, oh pecans! I'm pretty sure they were put on this earth because someone somewhere loves me...

This cake is great for breakfast with a cup of strong black coffee (hey, it's oatmeal, am I right?!), and great for dessert with strawberries and ice cream. I may or may not have consumed the better part of this cake in one weekend on my own...I actually added mini chocolate chips, but (gasp!) they weren't really necessary. This cake would probably be good with cranberries, or maybe raisins. Basically anything that goes well with oatmeal and spices.

And as usual, be careful with the broiler. As you can see, my cake got a wee bit overdone...but you're talking to the girl who purposefully burns her popcorn here, so clearly I didn't mind! (And really, it wasn't as burned as it looked...I promise.)

Oatmeal Cake with Broiled Icing (from Willow Bird Baking, from America's Test Kitchen)

Yields: one 8-inch square cake (about 9 pieces)

Cake Ingredients:
1 cup (3 ounces) quick-cooking oats (see note)
3/4 cup water , room temperature
3/4 cup (3 3/4 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup (3 1/2 ounces) granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed (3 1/2 ounces) light brown sugar
1 large egg, room temperature
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Broiled Icing Ingredients:
1/4 cup packed (1 3/4 ounces) light brown sugar
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
3 tablespoons milk
3/4 cup sweetened shredded coconut
1/2 cup (2 1/2 ounces) pecans, chopped

1. FOR THE CAKE: Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Cut two 16-inch lengths aluminum foil and fold both lengthwise to 5-inch widths. Spray 8- by 8-inch metal baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. Create a foil sling for the pan: cut two 16-inch lengths of foil and fold them to widths of 5 inches each. Fit foil pieces into baking dish, one overlapping the other, pushing them into corners and up sides of pan; allow excess to overhang pan edges. This creates a sling that will help you remove the cake after baking and cooling. Spray foil lightly with nonstick cooking spray.

2. Combine oats and water in medium bowl and let sit until water is absorbed, about 5 minutes. In another medium bowl, whisk flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg together.

3. In bowl of standing mixer, beat butter and sugars on medium speed until combined and mixture has consistency of damp sand, 2 to 4 minutes, scraping down bowl with rubber spatula halfway through mixing. Add egg and vanilla; beat until combined, about 30 seconds. Add flour mixture in 2 additions and mix until just incorporated, about 30 seconds. Add soaked oats and mix until combined, about 15 seconds.

4. Give batter final stir with rubber spatula to make sure thoroughly combined. Transfer batter to prepared pan and lightly tap against counter 3 or 4 times to dislodge any large air bubbles; smooth surface with spatula. Bake cake until toothpick inserted into center comes out with few crumbs attached, 30 to 35 minutes (careful: mine only took 28 minutes), rotating pan halfway through baking. Let cake cool slightly in pan, at least 10 minutes.

5. FOR THE BROILED ICING: While cake cools, adjust oven rack about 9 inches from broiler element and heat broiler. In medium bowl, whisk brown sugar, melted butter, and milk together; stir in coconut and pecans. Spread mixture evenly over warm cake. Broil until topping is bubbling and golden, 3 to 5 minutes.
6. Let cake cool in pan 1 hour. Following illustration 2, transfer cake to serving platter, then discard foil. Cut cake into squares and serve.

*ATK notes: Do not use old-fashioned or instant oats for this recipe. Be sure to use a metal baking dish; glass pans are not recommended when broiling. If you have a drawer-style broiler (underneath the oven), position the rack as far as possible from the broiler element and monitor the icing carefully as it cooks in step 5. A vertical sawing motion with a serrated knife works best for cutting through the crunchy icing and tender crumb.