Pecan Toffee Coffee Cake

Recently I stared into the depths of the cupboard where I keep my baking supplies, had a potluck to attend and some ceremonial goodbye-to-my-stand-mixer baking to do. Brownies. a recipe from In the Sweet Kitchen, were an obvious choice – the amount of baking chocolate I’d amassed alone was staggering. But that didn’t quite take care of all of my flour, brown sugar etc, and I wasn’t finished saying goodbye to my mixer, bundt pan and pretty cake stand, so it was time to make Pecan Toffee Coffee Cake, also from In the Sweet Kitchen.

But, like every project big (moving to England) and small (baking two recipes after 9pm during a heat wave) this summer, I had bitten off more than I could chew. By the time I’d slid the pan into the oven I was a hot mess, both physically and emotionally. The recipe warns of making sure the filling doesn’t touch the sides of the pan for easy unmoulding, so I spent the hour it baked fretting. And so, with trepidation and crankiness, I unmoulded the cake onto a cooling rack; it popped out with a little whoosh – perfectly and beautifully. It was like the universe said “Ok – you need a small win.”

In the Sweet Kitchen is a book I’m sad to place in storage for now, but until I get a handle on life in Leeds, I’ve chosen to leave it and all of my baking accoutrements behind. Since I originally started this food blog as a way to digitize my favourite recipes it makes sense that I would include this one – it’s a great cake to bring to family gatherings, bridal showers or potlucks. 

Pecan Toffee Coffee Cake
½ cup tightly packed light brown sugar
2 tbsp granulated sugar
1 tsp instant espresso powder (I use Medaglia D’Oro, available at Lady York Foods and Pusateri’s)
1½ tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
2 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
¾ cup chopped pecans, toasted
¾ cup English toffee pieces for baking, such as Skor Bits

Note: I find I only end up using about half of this mixture for the filling, but I usually make the whole batch anyway. And if you want to take the word “Toffee” out of the recipe title, leave the toffee pieces out – I usually do.

Cake Batter:
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
¾ tsp salt
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
¾ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1¼ cups tightly packed light brown sugar
½ cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs, at room temperature
2½ tsp pure vanilla extract
1¾ cup full-fat sour cream
¾ cup (or the other half of the package) English toffee pieces for baking, such as Skor Bits) – again, optional

3 tbsp icing sugar, sifted, for decoration

Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour 10″ Bundt pan and tap out excess flour. For filling, combine brown and granulated sugar with espresso and blitz in the food processor until quite fine. Add cocoa and spices and mix until blended, add pecans (and toffee pieces, if using) and stir to combine.

For cake batter, sift flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg into a medium-sized bowl; set aside. In the bowl of the stand mixer, or a large bowl if mixing by hand, combine butter, brown sugar and granulated sugar. Cream on medium speed for about 3 minutes, or about 5 minutes by hand, until the mixture is light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well with each addition, beating in vanilla with final egg. Scrape down the sides of bowl periodically.

Add flour mixture to batter in 3 additions, alternating with the sour cream in 2 additions, beginning and ending with dry ingredients. If using toffee bits, fold in with the last addition of flour mixture.

Spoon about one-third of batter in bottom of Bundt pan. Using a teaspoon, spread the batter evenly and make a little moat all around the centre to contain the filling. Spoon half of the filling into the moat – make sure the filling does not touch the sides of the pan or the centre tube or it could scorch, making graceful unmoulding very difficult. Smooth filling and then add another third of batter, and repeat creating moat and spooning filling into it, using the final third of batter to smooth over top.

Bake on the centre rack of preheated oven for 50 to 65 minutes, or until cake is golden brown and springs back when touched. A cake skewer should come out clean (especially if it doesn’t come into contact with filling). Cool the cake in its pan on a rack for several minutes, then invert cake onto another rack and leave to cool completely. Cake must be completely cool before you slice it, or the cake and toffee filling will separate. Sift icing sugar over top to decorate.

Pop into a white cardboard cake box (I buy mine at Bulk Barn) that you’ve lined with parchment paper and everyone will think you’re a genius.

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