This week for the the Joy the Baker Cookbook Spotlight and Cook-Off sponsored by Hyperion and hosted at girlichef we got to choose what ever recipe we wanted to show you all. This recipe caught my eye on several levels........
I have a thing for cast iron skillets.
I have a thing for praline.
I have a thing for buttermilk in baking recipes.
And now...I have a very serious thing for this recipe alone. Ooh....MY....gawd! This cake is flippin' amazing. Light, fluffy....not too sweet because the praline has that roll. And it does it well! The scale is going to be yelling at me if I don't stop eating it.
If you end up purchasing Joy's cookbook....you'll find the recipe on page 113, titled Buttermilk Skillet Cake with Walnut Praline Topping. I happen not to like walnuts. So I automatically swap them for pecans whenever called for in a recipe.
Buttermilk Skillet Cake with Pecan Praline Topping
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
6 TB unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3/4 cup buttermilk
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/4 cup heavy cream
good pinch of salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup coarsely chopped pecans (or walnuts if that's your thing)
Preheat your oven to 375' F. Grease and flour an 8" over safe (ie: cast iron) skillet, along the bottom and up the sides. Joy says a 9" cake pan will work as well. Don't make up your mind yet....please.
I want you to see how big...errr...small an 8" skillet is. You'll see in a minute the importance of this.
In a medium bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
In another medium bowl, with a stand or hand mixer, cream together the granulated sugar and butter until fully incorporated, about 3 minutes.
Add the egg and yolk, one at a time, beating for 1 minute between the two.
Beat in the vanilla.
Now....with the mixer on low, add half of the flour. Beat until incorporated. Add the buttermilk, and beat again until incorporated. Finally, beat in the remaining flour until almost fully incorporated. Stop beating and continue with a spatula to fully incorporate the flour.
Pour / spoon the batter into your prepared pan.
Smooth the batter in the pan evenly. (clears her throat)....put a pan on the bottom rack. Just in case. Bake for 30 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
While things of unknown magnitude are going on in the oven....you should make the pralines.
Combine the brown sugar, butter, cream and salt in a medium saucepan. Bring to a soft boil and let boil for 3 minutes. Keep an eye on it. It likes to get a little rambunctious....just stir it down.
After 3 minutes, remove from heat and stir in the vanilla and nuts. Allow to set for about 20 minutes to thicken up a bit.
I don't know why....something I did maybe? Or just one of those quirks...but (clears her throat)...I had a bit of a mishap.
I'm really glad that pan was in there to catch the mess. At first I was fretting a bit. But then I decided to let it ride. I turned the oven down to 350' and let it cook a bit longer since the center wasn't set yet. And hoped that my house wouldn't be inundated with that burned sugary smell.
Once I had determined (with aforementioned toothpick test) that he cake was done, I let it cool for a minute and then placed the pan on a plate.
It needed examining. How was I going to pull this off? Scrap it and start over? I have a thing about throwing away perfectly good food. So that thought didn't linger long. I considered cutting off all the crunchy edges (oh the pain of the thought) and inverting the pan so the cake would come out. but I knew I'd mess it up even more.
I decided to....embrace the rustic. Forget the perfection and clean beauty of the intention. And just pour the praline over the whole thing....skillet and all
And then discovered the raw beauty that only a cast iron skillet can pull off with such comfort.
What happened next was pure taste-bud nirvana
I want to say....you should probably cook this cake in a 10" skillet or a cake pan. But there's a part of me that has a thing for this bad boy.....just as it is.