March 31, 2010
So yes, the food item in the above photograph looks nothing like an egg. It's not even egg shaped. But these tasty little cakes - so simple, but so good, flavoured with nutmeg and topped with butter, cinnamon and sugar - are the usually egg-shaped creation of Gesine Bullock-Prado. I ate one at Walton's Fancy and Staple, a wonderful bakery/cafe here in Austin owned by Gesine's famous sister Sandra, and I declared it the best cake I've ever eaten. That's only likely to be true of you if, like me, you prefer simple cakes, flavoured by only one or two star ingredients (in this case, nutmeg). Also if you like donuts with cinnamon and sugar, because that's what these taste like. They taste deep fried, but they aren't, and this is sort of miraculous.
After my 75 cent best cake ever at Walton's, I went home hoping to find a recipe to recreate the goodness, and found the very one used by the cafe. Not only is it available on Amazon.com, because Bullock Prado has allowed the first 12 pages of her cookbook Confections of a Closet Master Baker to be published online, but she has a video demonstration right here. How generous.
I looked and looked for egg-shaped molds to make these in, but finally decided just to use a mini muffin pan. They would be gorgeous - and very Easter themed - as eggs, but really what matters is how good they taste (preferably with hot, soothing beverages). Two important things: cream the butter and sugar together for a long time, or risk missing out on how extraordinarily good these cakes can be. And only fill your molds to halfway or less, or the cakes will overflow and spread.
Note that this recipe makes a vast amount of mini-muffin-sized cakes - probably something like 60. I planned to experiment with freezing some of them (before dipping them in sugar) and seeing how easily rejuvenated they were later, but kind friends came to my assistance and ate them all before that could happen.
Gesine Bullock-Prado, Confections of a Closet Master Baker
3 cups flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp nutmeg
1/2 lb (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups sugar
5 large eggs, at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups nonfat buttermilk
For dipping the eggs:
8 tbsp (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted (I used salted butter)
1 cup sugar and 1 tsp cinnamon mixed together in a small shallow bowl
Preheat the oven to 325°F / 160°C. Spray your molds with nonstick spray (I buttered mine).
Sift together the flour, baking powder, salt, and nutmeg. Set aside.
In an electric mixer fitted with either the paddle or the whisk attachment, whip the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. This can take up to 10 minutes, depending on the temperature of your butter. As you're whipping away, stop and scrape down the sides of the bowl to make sure all the butter is incorporated into the sugar. Keep whipping and keep scraping.
Add the eggs one at a time, whipping after each one until the egg is fully incorporated into the batter. Scrape down the bowl every now and again as well. Add the vanilla.
Once all the eggs are incorporated, alternate adding the flour mixture and the buttermilk, mixing slowly. After they are well incorporated but not overbeaten, take a ribber spatula and fold the batter a few times to make sure everything is evenly distributed and the batter is smooth.
Distribute the batter into your molds, filling each cavity a little less than halfway. Bake for about 15 minutes. Baking time varies depending on the size of your mold, so check for a very light golden brown color and make sure the cake springs back when you touch it. (15 minutes was just right for my mini muffin pan in my oven.)
Unmold your little cakes while they are still warm, dunk them quickly in the melted butter, then dredge them in the cinnamon and sugar.