I’m not going to tap dance around the subject of photography today. Let’s get straight to the issue, shall we? This blog post suffers from lack of good photography. My usual process is to snap pictures while prepping, cooking or baking, and I then snap a few more of the finished dish, after being portioned or sliced. In this case, the cake got eaten before I could get a good picture…it really was that good.
So in the spirit of brevity, to go along with how quick and easy this cake can be whipped up, I offer you the recipe, from the renown author and baking expert, Flo Braker, whose books are testaments to well written recipes that work, and deliver on taste and wow factor. This recipe comes from one of the best baking books of all time, Baking For All Occasions, from a chapter she titles Blue Ribbon Worthy. Don’t you just love that chapter title? I love all of Flo’s creations, but when I’m busy I need something I can whip up in a blink, and this cake is the ticket. No melting or softening butter, no creaming sugar and butter until light and fluffy. No heavy mixing involved. Just stir with a spoon (yes, that’s right), dump and bake. Even the streusel comes together from some of the batter ingredients. Now how easy is that?
As Flo suggests, you can create endless variations by adding a cup of berries, shredded carrots, diced apples or even shredded raw pumpkin to the batter after you add the buttermilk. I chose to make my version a spice cake version, with some cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice and clove. It was superb. Another plus for this cake is that it keeps very well (if you’re able to keep it around long enough).
I love how the nuts make lovely little molehills and divots in the cake batter.
You can serve this cake any time of day, and it lends itself to many variations. Feel free to add a cup of shredded carrots, zucchini, or a cup of berries, or some fresh pumpkin to the cake batter after the buttermilk.
If you don't have any buttermilk, make your own by taking a cup measure and adding one tablespoon of vinegar, then topping up with milk until you reach one cup. Let sit for 5 minutes to let the milk thicken and curdle. It's now ready to use in place of regular buttermilk.
Recipe adapted from Flo Braker's Baking For All Occasions.
- 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
- 3/4 cup vegetable or canola oil
- 1 cup chopped walnuts, pecans or hazelnuts
- 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg (optional)
- 1/4 tsp allspice (optional)
- 1/8 tsp ground cloves (optional)
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 cup well shaken buttermilk
- 1 large egg
- Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350F. Lightly coat a 13 x 9 inch baking pan with nonstick spray or butter, then flour the pan, tapping out the excess flour.
- Sift together the flour, sugar, salt and 1/2 teaspoon of the cinnamon into a large bowl. Using a rubber spatula or whisk, briefly mix in the brown sugar just until the ingredients are blended. Stir in the oil, mixing well.
- For the crumb topping, remove enough of the flour mixture to measure 3/4 cup loosely packed and put this in another small mixing bowl, then add the nuts and the remaining 1 tsp cinnamon and blend well with your fingertips and set aside.
- To finish the cake batter, stir in the spices (if using), the baking powder, and baking soda. Add the buttermilk and the egg and stir until the mixture is smooth.
- Pour the batter into the prepared pan and spread evenly with a spatula. Sprinkle the reserved topping evenly over the batter and then gently pat the topping to ensure it bakes evenly.
- Bake the cake for 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out free of cake. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool in the pan for 10 to 15 minutes.
- You can freeze the cake for 2 weeks if well wrapped in aluminum foil.