While I was busy trying to wrap my head around the umpteen mundane things we get tangled in, I missed a couple of birthdays. Though my totally understanding friends did not say a thing when I wished them apologetically on the phone (I usually wish them armed with home-made cake or delicious chocolate, and lately with bread) the guilt, oh my God, weighs down so heavily on you. This time around I was not going to let my life and its never ending drama, stop me from baking a cake for a dear friend.
Before we go any further, there is something you need to know about my friends. Most times they care not for fancy fondant covered or laboriously decorated cream cakes. “We want a cake we can drool over and devour and not just be some eye candy” is a refrain I hear frequently enough. So I often make Rum cakes and Chiffons, Citrus yogurt cakes, and Boston cream pies, Devil’s food cake and Angel cake, Pound cakes and cakes with fruits of the season. . . The techniques and the flavours used may be different, but the flavours and textures are always paramount. No compromises there. This time I had to make a cake which needed to be eggless, no cream on the top (you will soon see why I stress on ‘the top’ bit) Rich and tender but not heavy.
I initially thought I would make a lovely apple cinnamon cake. But of course, looking into my larder, there was no apple in sight. So I quickly changed my mind. I would make a streusel cake. Sort of to remind me of apple crumble but without the apples. Now who does not like streusel? Most times I make a super thick layer of the crunchy topping, the apple or another fruit is almost an afterthought.
A normal streusel has cinnamon, oats, butter, some flour and maybe some nuts for an added crunch. I decided to dispense with the oats and go with nuts all the way. Flaked almonds and walnuts seemed the obvious choice. While I added melted butter to the mixture, I could not help but lick a bit of the cinnamony goodness. Now I have already made it clear that I like streusel. So this recipe has plenty of it. If you want to go easy, you could reduce the quantity. You want to add some oats? Go ahead. A different combination of nuts? Not a problem. Sweeter? Add more brown sugar (thought you might have to have a really sweet tooth to do that) The idea is to have a crumbly mixture which is going to turn crisp in the oven.
As for the cake, I made a few changes to a regular vanilla eggless cake that I usually make. I had to add some cream. It was after all, a birthday cake. So the cream went into the batter. It was a good move, for I had the most tender crumb for an eggless cake. The yogurt did not hurt either. These two ingredients created a moist cake that I almost could not believe it did not contain eggs. The layer of streusel in the middle melts wonderfully well and creates a layer of yummy filling. See, no need to to torte and fill the cake. Now how simple is that!
To me, this cake looks so good that it needs no further decoration. Personally I like it warm with a cloud of whipped cream on the side. There is something comforting about the contrast in temperature and texture. If you are trying to cut down on the calories (as if) then just have it plain. The birthday boy did not complain. There were no candles to be blown out or a formality in cutting the cake. We just sat down for a cup of good tea and a slice of the streusel cake.
For the Streusel
!/4 cup Butter melted
3/4 cup Brown sugar
1/2 Tbs Ground Cinnamon
1/4 cup All-purpose Flour
Good pinch of Salt
1 cup Mixed Nuts (I used flaked almonds and chopped walnuts)
For the Cake
3/4 cup Sugar (regular or brown)
1/2 cup Butter
1 tsp Pure Vanilla extract
1/2 cup Plain Yogurt
1/2 cup Light Cream (I used Amul)
1 tsp Baking Powder
1/2 tsp Baking Soda
1/4 tsp Salt
1 1/4 cups All-purpose Flour.
- Mix all the ingredients of the streusel together to form a crumbly mixture and set aside.
- For the cake: Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
- Add the Vanilla extract, cream, and the yogurt and continue to whip.
- Sieve the baking powder, baking soda, salt and flour together
- Add to the whisked mixture and continue to mix until well blended.
- Grease, flour the sides and line the bottom of an 8-inch springform pan.
- Pour half the batter into the pan and level.
- Sprinkle half the crumbled streusel mixture on top.
- Carefully spread the rest of the batter over the filling.
- Sprinkle the rest of the topping
- Slide into an oven preheated to 180C and bake for about 40 minutes until done.
- Cool for at least 15 minutes before you remove the cake from the pan. (It will shrink a little bit as it cools)
Create your own variations by leaving out the cinnamon and adding a touch of cocoa to the streusel. You can drizzle the cake with melted chocolate or salted caramel. If you use just hazelnuts, then go for a drizzle of Nutella. Bake these as little cupcakes or bake in a sheet pan and serve with some fruit on the side. Any which way you choose to do it, this is one cake you will keep going back to.