the moveable feasts

Gooey Cinnamon Cake Squares

with 20 comments

gooey cinnamon cake squares

My excuse in making these is that I volunteered to bring some treats for my thesis class this week. Someone in my small class usually brings in a snack to share with the others, but up until now I hadn’t got the chance. How excited I was when no one beat me to volunteering to bring something this week! I had a lot of thinking to do, though: I had to bring something that everyone would enjoy, but everyone (as in random, normal people, not you foodie-like people who read this blog) usually enjoys philistine-ish cheesecake-cookie-dough-stuffed brownies or some such thing that I am much too snobby for. But I wanted them to like what I brought, and be happy and pleased and impressed that I made something so tasty.

(Vanity is a very bad fault of mine. As if that wasn’t already self-evident by the fact that I have a blog, or have made it my life goal to bake and cook for everyone I like so they will in turn like me more.)

second layer, in big dollops
liberal amount of cinnamon sugar

Of course, while these are pretty gluttonous, they come from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook, so that automatically meant that they were then not only satisfactory in my anti-philistine endeavor but that everyone would like them—because really, everyone likes anything produced by Smitten Kitchen. Seriously, it is a little crazy how Everyone, foodie or not, likes Smitten Kitchen. In fact, the only reason someone might not like that blog is just because it is seriously mind-boggling how universally appealing and wildly popular she is.

just done, still gooey in the middle

Anyway, so I knew these would be a winner. And, alas, they were! Everyone liked them, including my thesis adviser who said she usually doesn’t find baked goods “worth it.” (Some really aren’t worth it.) They are basically like slightly under-baked snickerdoodles in cake form. It’s a good thing. They’re made up of two different cake layers: one being a structured butter cake-like one, with the second having a more satiny smoothness which makes it “gooey” after it’s all baked up. The liberal sprinkling of cinnamon sugar on top brings the whole thing together and makes for a nice little crust. My photographs don’t really do the squares justice—I cut them up for packing after they had cooled down for only about 2 hours, and while they were definitely still good at this time, the longer they sat the more gooey the top became. Once again, it’s a good thing.

At the moment I am having something of a love-hate relationship with them, shared by my roommate, who earlier today said, “It’s a shame they taste so good.” Make them when you have people—lots of people!—to share them with. This recipe yields a whole lot of little devilish squares of goodness, and you don’t want square after square taunting you, distracting you, from the first draft of a thesis you happen to have due in two weeks.

gooey cinnamon cake squares
packed up for class

One Year Ago: Chana Punjabi

Gooey Cinnamon Cake Squares
From The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook, via her feature in Ladies Home Journal
Makes about 3 dozen squares

Soft Cookie Base
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon cream of tarter
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1/4 cup whole milk

Gooey Layer
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1/4 cup milk
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 egg
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

Cinnamon-Sugar Topping
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line the bottom of a 9 x 13-inch glass baking dish with aluminum foil, allowing the ends to hang over. Coat the aluminum foil with cooking spray or melted butter. Set aside.

For the cookie base, whisk together the flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl; set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add in the egg and milk and beat until combined. The mixture will look a little curdled, but that’s okay–just make sure it’s all incorporated. Sprinkle the flour mixture over the wet and stir on low until just incorporated. Spread the dough in little dollops over the prepared pan, and smooth evenly. Set aside.

For the gooey layer, whisk together the corn syrup, milk, and vanilla in a small bowl; set aside. In the same bowl of the stand mixer that you just used (you need not wash it between layers), cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy (once again, about 2 minutes). Add the egg and beat until combined. Add 1/2 cup of the flour and stir until fully combined, then follow this with half the corn syrup mixture. Repeat this with another 1/2 cup of flour and the remaining corn syrup mixture, and then finish by combining in the last 1/4 cup of flour. Scrape down the bowl as necessary. Dollop the batter over the unbaked cookie base and spread into an even layer.

Mix together the sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle it in an even layer over the top of the batter. Use it all! Bake in the preheated oven until the edges have set but the center still looks gooey (this is important!), about 35 minutes. Let cool completely, about 2-3 hours. Lift the cake from the pan using the foil overhang, cut into 1 to 2-inch squares. Keep covered at room temperature for up to 3 days.

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Written by Amy

February 21, 2013 at 10:38 pm

Posted in Cakes

Tagged with ,

20 Responses

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  1. As a big fan of cinnamon anything, but particularly anything resembling a snickerdoodle or cinnamon bun, these look fantastic! And relatively easy too! I’d love a square right now, alongside a hot cup of tea.

    onceuponarecipe

    February 21, 2013 at 10:58 pm

  2. Looks delicious. I would sure appreciate that kind of gooey goodness from friends-collegues…

    Darya

    February 21, 2013 at 11:49 pm

  3. Looks fantastic! Gooey is the best! nerdwithtaste.wordpress.com

    Nerd With Taste

    February 22, 2013 at 1:19 am

  4. Anytime a dessert recipe has “gooey” in the title, it’s a safe bet that it’s pretty darn good. :) What a great treat for your class!

    Little Kitchie

    February 22, 2013 at 4:16 am

  5. Oh yum! I spied these in her cookbook the other day. They look so good! Perfect thing to bring to class, I think.

    Erin

    February 22, 2013 at 5:41 am

  6. I bet you were the most popular person at work! I love Debs’ blog but haven’t actually made that many of her recipes. This one I really need to try.

    thelittleloaf

    February 22, 2013 at 5:51 am

    • Oh really? I feel like at least half of everyone’s entire repertoire of trusty recipes come from Deb’s site. It’s cool that you’re a little more independent. ;)

      Amy

      February 22, 2013 at 8:23 am

  7. Just to clarify, your readers include philistines. I am not a foodie and rarely bake anything that didn’t come out of a box of some sort (gasp!), but I love your blogs for the pure mental joy!

    Linda Hoffman

    February 22, 2013 at 6:28 am

    • Haha well I’m guessing most non-family members probably like the food part the most. :) Thanks Aunt Lindy!

      Amy

      February 22, 2013 at 8:24 am

  8. Ha! You don’t have a very high opinion of your peers, Amy!

    When I bring baked goods to school, I usually take the opposite approach and bring something deliberately strange and challenging. This was a while ago, but I baked some Milk Bar corn cookies and brought them to a workshop to pass around. Everyone was pleased but puzzled–they couldn’t figure out what was in them. I have to admit to taking quite a bit of pleasure in that…is that wrong?

    Regardless, these squares look so good, and I think I know just when I might get the chance to make them. Nothing wrong with a crowd-pleaser!

    Katie

    February 22, 2013 at 8:14 am

    • Haha I know I’m terrible. I think it comes from seeing my peer’s pinterest food boards, or the time at work someone brought in rolo-stuffed cookies and everyone went crazy. But I think it’s very cool that you go for the approach that is intriguing and puzzling—me, I’m after wide appeal. Now that I’ve brought something in though, I think next time I’d feel comfortable bringing in something less of a “crowd-pleaser.”

      Amy

      February 22, 2013 at 8:27 am

  9. teehee i love it when you mention me… on another note, i have to admit that i wish you still had some of these at home because i am totally craving them right now!!

    Abbey Davies (@abbeyasaayi)

    February 22, 2013 at 3:57 pm

  10. Ooooooh damn. I hear you on the vanity. Embrace it, I say. It usually results in really good cake. (Which is what this looks like.) I also hear you on the crowd-pleasing thing. Bringing cakes for a disparite group of people – especially if they know you have a blog – can be weirdly intimidating. I always try to go for something as crowd-friendly as this.

    hungryandfrozen

    February 25, 2013 at 1:22 am

    • Haha yeah, I guess at least vanity serves a purpose here. Nothing can be THAT bad when they byproduct of it is a good cake, right? ;)

      Amy

      February 25, 2013 at 12:19 pm

  11. These are some of my favorite photos you’ve done, I don’t know what it is about the little squares, they just speak to me, and they are definitely, definitely ‘worth it’ :)

    • Thanks Sue! I’d like to think these ones are worth it, too.

      Amy

      February 25, 2013 at 12:20 pm

  12. Oh…these Gooey Cinnamon Cake Squares look amazing. I especially love the sugar topping. What a great treat to share with your class. I’m going to bookmark this and make some to share the next time I need to bring a dish to pot luck! :)

    Amy Tong

    February 26, 2013 at 12:31 pm

  13. These look super interesting. I’m a snickerdoodle addict and have been thinking about trying snickerdoodle blondies for a long time, but these look like they would make a great alternative!

  14. Baked this today, it is AMAZING!

    Missy

    September 17, 2013 at 8:28 am

  15. i’ve baked these a few times and here to do a little research. I live near St. Louis….land of the gooey butter cake and am trying to interpret their gooooey-ness by way of others photos and baking stories. I have vowed to listen to the little voice in my head and take them out. he he You know what I mean about that little voice. :”) Thanks and I totally understand being a food snob.
    AmyRuth

    AmyRuth

    September 30, 2013 at 6:39 pm


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