Tuesday, June 2, 2009

TWD: Cinnamon Squares


Tracey of Tracey's Culinary Adventures , my twitter buddy and baker extraordinaire, chose this week's TWD recipe, Cinnamon Squares. When I first saw that Tracey chose cinnamon squares, I was really excited, because I assumed it was a non-chocolate dessert that I could serve to my non-chocolate eating husband. I love it when my hubs loves the desserts that I make, and I've found that a critical first step to getting him to love my desserts is for him to actually eat them.

So when I read the recipe more closely and realized that the cinnamon squares did indeed contain chocolate, I was a little disappointed, because I just don't have the creativity needed to turn chocolate desserts into non-chocolate desserts. I'm not a baker so much as a recipe follower. To the extent anyone in my life has ever complimented my cooking or baking skills, I know that they really should be complimenting my reading skills, or possibly my recipe selection skills.

Fortunately, I don't need to be a creative baker, because I can just shamelessly mooch off the creativity of my baking friends. Nancy had made this cake several days earlier, and told us that she did half the cake with a streusel filling. Streusel - perfect! So obvious once Nancy mentioned it, but I never would have thought of it on my own. So I decided to split the cake into two 8.5" x 4.5" loaf pans rather than one 8" x 8" pan, and make one pan with chocolate, in strict accordance with the recipe, and the other pan using the streusel from the Blueberry Crumb Cake that TWD made a couple of months ago. I skipped the chocolate ganache topping on both versions.


The cake is really easy to make. I didn't even have to break out my beloved KitchenAid! And while I do love my KitchenAid, I love it even more when I can leave it in its home in a lower cabinet. I know that I'm supposed to bend at the knees, not at the back, blah blah blah, but I ALWAYS lift that sucker by bending at the back, and it's just a matter of time before I add "back strain" to my list of kitchen injuries. But it won't happen when making cinnamon squares, dammit, because all you need to mix up this baby is a whisk and rubber spatula!

David's uber-cool Aunt Missy was visiting us for the first time ever when I served this cake. We love Aunt Missy & Uncle Jack, and don't get to see them nearly often enough. At the end of their youngest child's wedding reception last summer, I told Uncle Jack that I wish they had more children to marry off, because David and I had more fun at their kids' weddings than we've had in like eight years. To which Uncle Jack replied: "you two really need to get out more." True dat.

So I really wanted Aunt Missy to like this. She took a cinnamon square at the table, but before biting in said "wait, have you gotten a picture of this yet?" See, I told you she was the coolest! This spared me from having to have that awkward "hey, um, just hold on for one second while I take that cinnamon square out into the shade and snap a few pictures" conversation (which just never gets easier for me, no matter how long I do this). Not only did she just instinctively GET that we food bloggers must do strange things before anyone can eat the food, but she really loved the cinnamon squares, as did David's parents, who are among my most loyal tasters, and who must be getting really tired of me pushing baked goods at them all the time.

I've got to say that I vastly preferred the streusel version to the chocolate version. I think this is just where differences in taste buds come into play. We've made several recipes with TWD that combine chocolate and spice flavors, and I always feel, as David's mother stated perfectly, that these two flavors just don't improve each other (see also chocolate gingerbread). This is strictly a matter of personal taste, as many people love this combination. But I loved the streusel version of this cake so much that I'd rank it among my top 10 TWD recipes ever. The cake was soft and just melted in your mouth, and the flavor was perfect. And the streusel itself was as great as I remembered it being in the blueberry crumb cake.

Thanks for this great pick, Tracey!

38 comments:

Lady Baker said...

Streusel!!! That's how I'll make it next. I feel the same way...I really liked it, but felt that I wanted to try it without chocolate to really get the cake taste through!

Phew Cath, you had me worried there not posting until the afternoon...I was going to send out a search party (or God forbid, actually go onto Twitter and seek you out!)

Great to have guests that 'get' the blogging picture-taking routine!

talk to you later pal!

Leslie said...

It surprised me that this one had chocolate, too, though chocolate is always welcome in our house. I never would have thought of streusel, but it does make perfect sense. I feel so awkward snapping photos of our food before we eat it that I haven't attempted to do this in front of anyone but M. He tolerates much stranger things from me. My friends would be all over me (and my blog!) in a nanosecond, and I'm frankly not sure I'm ready for that much feedback! Anyway, yours look wonderful, and I'm glad you had something to please all of your extended family!

myfamousrecipe said...

I loved this cake, too! You may have good reading and recipe-selecting skills, but you're a fantastic baker, too. Great idea to add the streusel topping from the blueberry crumb cake.

Jennifer said...

I'm very similar, a great recipe follower, not a creative baker at all. I even kinda cringe when people make comments about my being a good baker, as it's not so much that I'm good, as I do it a lot with more than my fair share of "Ooopps!"

I'm wondering how these would be with white chocolate? Or subbing in some of those cinnamon chips for the chocolate in the filling?

spike. said...

I like the streusel variation, glad it worked out for you. I like to pretend all of the TWD recipes work as breakfast foods and I think adding some steusel would help get me there on this one.

vibi said...

I want an aunt Missy of my own!!! LOL

I'm glad you were wise and changed the recipe for poor old hubby that never gets to eat your chocolate confection... sob.

Uber cool!

pinkstripes said...

I'm the cinnamon squares were a success! Uncle Jack and Aunt Missy sound like a hoot!

Clivia said...

Streusel - what a great variation. Glad you enjoyed!

lasinthekitchen said...

I love your Cinnamon Squares! I'm one of those that love the chocolate/cinnamon combo flavor but I also love anything with streusel! (I'd like to join your club because I'm also a recipe follower...)

Andrea said...

Cinnamon Streusel Squares sound wonderul! I think I would have much preferred that version. And I completely agree about the flavors not really improving each other. My kids were crazy about these with the chocolate though, and as long as they're happy I'm happy. My husband didn't even want to try this one, go figure.

Barbara said...

I know what you mean about pushing extra and leftover baked goods on friends. I have some who love it and some who look askance when they see me coming! By the way, anything streusel is fine with me.

Melissa said...

Great idea to do the streusel version, I'll bet that was delicious!! Looks fabulous!

Melissa said...

Great idea to do the streusel version, I'll bet that was delicious!! Looks fabulous!

SUGAR B said...

Hehe, I love your cake!

I was so happy that it was easy to make, too. I skipped the chocolate everything and used Kahlua and vanilla ice cream instead. :)

Tracey said...

Thanks for baking with me this week Cathy!! So funny that you should mention that you're a recipe follower and not a baker. I always feel that way when people complement my baking skills!! I've met many people who tell me they never get good results even when they follow recipes so apparently recipe following is a real skill :) At least that's what I tell myself.

I love that you put a streusel in the middle instead of the chocolate swirl. That sounds like a fantastic adaptation! I love my KA too but the fact that this recipe didn't require it was a major selling point!

dharmagirl said...

streusel sounds delicious. i used the spice/choco swirl combo but no frosting bc, well, it sounded weird to me. i'm glad that all y'all enjoyed the cake:)

karen said...

i'm pretty much a recipe follower the first time through and then i expand out - but i hardly ever make the same thing twice now! so i know how you feel about that. i love the streusel idea and well as a cream cheese frosting or powdered sugar version i saw earlier today. i'm just not always the biggest chocolate fan.

Mary Ann said...

I really love what you did with this recipe. I didn't have a chance to make it before we moved, but I might just give it a shot with the struesel streak. That sounds so good to me and it sounds like everybody loved it!

Sara said...

Yeah, I am thinking more and more that I want to make this again with streusel instead of chocolate. You really can't go wrong with streusel.

Katrina said...

Okay, as much as I liked my different, healthier, smiley cupcake version of this, I'm totally going to make it sans chocolate and with streusel! And it'll probably be sooner than later! Looks great and sounds delicious! Great post, Cathy. I wish I HAD an Aunt Missy and Uncle Jack. Sigh. ;)

Kayte said...

Thinking the streusel one sounds good and maybe I should try that one here sooner rather than later. Fun post, as always, great photo of your cake...next week apple tart and no chocolate!

natalia said...

Ciao ! I love your double version !! It must have been great with the streusel filling ! I forgot the butter but apparently it was good anyway !!

Pamela said...

Okay, I just love that you worked "true dat" into this post. Hilarious! Now I've really gotta try that struesel version because I inhaled this cake!

Pam said...

I love anything with cinnamon - especially cake. I think struesel would be way better than chocolate...yum.

Debinhawaii said...

I am with you--plain chocolate without a bunch of spices mucking it up is best and cinnamon and struesel is a perfect pairing!

Natashya said...

Struesel sounds perfect with the cinnamon, nice!
I am with you on the oddness of being a foodie blogger.
My son was saying how he told his teacher about my site, but that he couldn't find the dish that I made for him that he loved so much.
I had to break it to him that tucking a fried egg into a homemade meat and cheese burrito and calling it brunch didn't go with my foodie rep!

Madam Chow said...

I'm with you. If I can taste the cinnamon in my chocolate, I tend to go "blech."

jillbert said...

Now you have me craving the blueberry crumb cake! I had to skip this week, but from looking at the recipe, I think the streusel topping would be a better topping than chocolate (and I love chocolate).

Karen said...

Ohhh yeaaa, that streusel from the blueberry crumb cake...that would be excellent on this. There was a lot of scraping off of the icing at my house.

Megan said...

I often hear I need to get out more, too. The problem is that the same people that say that - obviously don't have the same babysitter problems!!

Now I need to make the streusal topping, that's such a great idea!

TeaLady said...

That cake looks soooo good.

Thanks for coming by.

Maria said...

I am always up for streusel, makes the world a better place!

Di said...

Isn't Nancy the best? =) I really, really want to try the streusel idea now. You know, after I make brioche and apple tarts, and I'm sure something else I'm forgetting about. Oh, and we really need to get out more, too.

bakingwiththeboys said...

From a fellow follower, looks great. I bet the streusel was great. I like chocolate and cinnamon but you can never go wrong with streusel topping.

Bridgett said...

You can't beat a delicious cinnamon treat. Do you ship to California?? ;) Hope you and your family are doing well.

Mermaid Sweets said...

I am sorry that I missed this one, Like the loaf ideas and the strusel topping.

The Food Librarian said...

What a creative baker you are! This looks fantastic!

Teanna said...

Your Aunt sounds awesome! Usually, I get looks of confusion when I want to take a photo! hahaha! Ahh, the life of a food blogger! The squares look great - I love the streusel topping!

 
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