Culinary Sleuth

A Cake of Substance

by Lynn Kerrigan


I like a cake with substance and character. Too often, commercial cakes and boxed mixes produce something akin to sweetened white bread crumbs—bland and uninteresting. So, the other night when I had a yen for cake I didn't reach for a mix, but decided to be adventurous and try something new.

Cakes of Substance I'm faint of heart when it comes to cooking without a recipe unless it's something I've made so often that the ingredient list is as familiar as my address. But one of my New Year's culinary resolutions was to try something new each day whether a new recipe, a new food or even eating dinner for breakfast and vice versa. Recipe experimentation and alteration fit my courageous new spirit.

There were no special ingredients in my pantry. Fact is I only had a handful of this and a smidgen of that but was confident a hearty cake would emerge.

I started with a recipe for bar cookies from the back of a half-full bag of white chocolate chips. It went as follows:


1 stick butter
1-3/4 cups brown sugar
1 egg
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
2-1/2 cups flour
1 bag of white chocolate chips
Chopped nuts (optional)


Cream butter and brown sugar together till well blended. Beat in egg till smooth. Mix in vanilla, salt and baking powder, blending well. Add flour a little at a time till mixture is well blended. Add chips and nuts. Bake in well greased 11 x 14 baking pan for one hour at 325 degrees F.

I followed the recipe but used only a half bag of white chocolate chips and I also added:

Another egg (2 eggs total)
3/4 can crushed pineapple
1/2 cup coconut
3/4 cup chopped walnuts

I added the pineapple after incorporating the eggs. I blended the nuts and coconut into the batter last.

These measurements don't have to be followed exactly and you may want to substitute crushed apple (or small chunks) or another fruit for the pineapple. The addition of nuts is optional, but they make the cake deliciously crunchy and their flavor is a good match for the fruit.

I spooned the rather heavy, thick batter into a fluted, round, cake pan that I liberally greased with butter. The batter is similar to cookie dough and could not be poured. It took about 1-1/2 hours to bake. After an hour I tested for doneness using the toothpick method.

The result? A truly good "company deserving" coffeecake. It had marvelous texture, discernible sweetness and was very moist. I coated the top of the cake with a thin mixture of butter and confectioner's sugar but that step isn't necessary. The cake is good enough to stand on its own.


In the mood to bake up a storm?

The following cake and baking sites will keep you busy for a while (Sites collected in 1999):

Cake Recipe.Com
All cake, all the time. Over 800 cake recipes plus a recipe exchange, cake glossary and cake baking tips.

Cake Decorator.Com
The Place for Cake Decorators. Recipes and links. Sign up for a free newsletter.

American Cake Supply
Spatulas, boxes, boards, novelties, plates and pillars.

Cake Artistry
Professional decorator and novice alike will find something of interest inside this site. Specialty tools, books, articles of interest and new decorating ideas.

Joy of Baking

Cake Tips

Baking Masters Service for Home and Professional Bakers
Download a free cake making lesson or professional cake and icing formulas. Read the tips, hints and gather recipes.

Baker Boulanger
Food writer and master baker Marcy Goldman's rich and delightful baking site conatins many cake recipes.

Pastry Chef Central
Recipes, education center, ask the pastry chef, techniques and links.

Baker's Camelot—King Arthur's Flour

Current Culinary Sleuth Archive


This page created March 1999


Copyright © 1998-2001, Lynn Kerrigan. No portion of this article may be reproduced for publication without express, written permission of the author.


This page modified February 2007