The ugly cake! Shield your eyes!
I have surprised and horrified myself a few times lately, and one of the things I did to achieve that was quoting Ice-T. Seriously. What the hell? This Ice-T depth, though, apparently made one guy fall more in love with me than ever. He had no idea I knew all about this in addition to knowing how to bake cake and the law/legal system and *everything*else*I*happen*to*know*. (That does not even touch upon my great talent for imitating all the world's flight attendants.)
Onward, onward… a birthday calls for a cake but without the right ingredients, tools, etc., one must make do. "The ends justifies the means/that's the system…" With the one glass pan (a lasagna pan kind of thing) available to me, I concocted this cappuccino cinnamon cake, which apparently tasted nothing like cappuccino or coffee, a little bit like cinnamon and vaguely like zucchini bread??? I also doubled the recipe and think I used too much espresso powder and not enough cinnamon. But apparently this was not evident.
Cappuccino Cinnamon Cake
1¼ cups plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon plus 2½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon plus 1½ teaspoons instant espresso powder
1¾ cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
Pinch of salt
¾ cup whole milk
2 large eggs
½ teaspoon vanilla
1 stick plus 2 tablespoons (10 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
For the frosting:
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
2½ tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
Preheat the oven to 350F. Butter an 8-inch square baking pan (unless, like me, you haphazardly doubled the recipe — then you could use a rectangular 9×11 kind of pan) and line the bottom with parchment or wax paper.
Stir 2 tablespoons of the sugar, 2½ teaspoons of the cinnamon and 1½ teaspoons of the espresso powder together in a small bowl. Set aside.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, the remaining 1¼ cups sugar, the baking powder, salt and the remaining 1 tablespoon cinnamon. Mix the remaining 1 tablespoon of the espresso powder into the milk and warm the milk until it is hot enough to dissolve the coffee. Cool the milk. In another bowl, whisk together the milk, eggs and vanilla. Pour the liquid ingredients over the flour mixture and gently whisk. Now, using whisk or a rubber spatula, fold in the butter with a light touch, just until the butter is absorbed. You’ll have a smooth, satiny batter.
Scrape half of the batter into the pan and smooth the top. Sprinkle the chocolate over the batter and dust with the cinnamon-sugar mixture. Cover with the rest of the batter and smooth the top again.
Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until the cake is puffed and beginning to pull away from the sides of the pan; a thin knife inserted into the center will come out clean. Transfer the cake to a cooling rack and let it rest for 15 minutes before unmolding it onto another rack. Peel off the paper, invert it onto the first rack, and cool to room temperature right side up.
To make the frosting, put the chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl and fit the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. Cook, stirring gently and often, just until they melt. Be careful not to overheat the mixture so much that it thins out; the chocolate should be smooth, very shiny, thick and spreadable. (My chocolate was very thin and I was too impatient to deal with it. I just dumped it on the cake and it was fine.)
Spread the frosting over the top of the cake. Allow the frosting to set at room temperature, then cut the cake into 9 squares, each about 2½ inches on a side. Wrapped in plastic, the cake will keep at room temperature for 2 days. (I actually left the cake in the pan and transported it around that way… and it was also fine.)