Secret Ingredient Breakfast Cake
I got a great letter the other day from a woman named Catherine, telling me all about the breakfast cake that she makes for her two daughters, who are aged 7 and 9. She says they are picky eaters, so she came up with a way to give them something tasty for breakfast that is also super nutritious: "The cake has a whole can of beans in it," she wrote, "Ssshh! don't tell!"
Okay, sorry, Catherine, but if they read this blog, then the jig is up. Because the idea of putting healthy ingredients into a more palatable form is always a great idea, and I love Catherine's cake. But the reason Catherine wrote to me was because she was having a problem with her cake — after baking it, she puts a simple glaze on top, made with confectioner's sugar and milk, and sometimes the glaze sinks into the cake, "making it look pretty unappealing," she says and causing her younger daughter to simply refuse to eat it.
Catherine sent some before and after pictures of her cake along with her recipe; you can see that the glaze looks nice when it is first applied, but disappeared pretty quickly (as did most of the cake!).
There are a couple of reasons why this might have happened — the first being that the cake was still warm when the glaze was added to the top. If you make sure that a cake is really thoroughly cooled, on a cooling rack and out of the pan, then it should hold the glaze pretty well.
Another way to help the glaze adhere is to try making one that has some kind of fat added to it — such as butter, coconut oil or another type of shortening — because that additional fat helps the glaze set on the surface, preventing it from sinking into the cake. But, again, the cake needs to be completely cooled before adding the glaze.
Finally, a runny glaze is sometimes the culprit, so try thickening it up a bit with additional powdered sugar until you get a glaze that is closer to the consistency of pancake batter — just enough to hold its shape and drip decoratively over the edges of the cake.
But I couldn't resist trying out Catherine's breakfast bean cake recipe and made a few tweaks to it, just for fun. Give it a try — I guarantee no one will ever know that there's a whole can of beans stashed inside, because it doesn't taste "bean-y" at all, just moist and flavorful. Those beans will be our little secret!
Makes one 8-inch bundt cake (serves 8-10)
for the cake;
1 15-ounce can Great Northern Beans, drained
1 whole vanilla bean, scraped (or use 2 teaspoons vanilla extract)
1 teaspoon fresh orange zest
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar (use more or less to taste)
1/3 cup whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
for the glaze:
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup maple syrup
3/4 cup confectioners' sugar
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Put the beans, eggs, vanilla, and salt into a blender and blend until smooth. Meanwhile, put the butter and sugar into a mixing bowl and mix on medium-high until fluffy. Blend the dry ingredients together in a small bowl or measuring cup. Add the bean purée to the mixing bowl a half cup at a time until it is completely incorporated, then add the dry ingredients. Mix until smooth, about two minutes.
Pour cake batter into a greased 6-cup bundt cake pan (or 9-inch cake pan) and bake for about 35 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted. Allow to cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then invert onto a rack and allow to cool thoroughly before applying the glaze.
To make the glaze, put the butter and maple syrup into a small saucepan and warm over low heat until the butter is melted. Remove from heat and add the confectioner's sugar and whisk until smooth. Pour over the cooled cake while it is still on the rack, with a cookie sheet underneath to catch the drips, then transfer to a cake plate to serve.
• If the cake doesn't immediately release when you invert it onto the rack, don't panic. Let gravity do the work for you — if you've properly greased the pan in advance (either by lathering it with softened butter or spraying it with oil), then most of the time the cake will come out just fine. If it doesn't, then pat all the pieces back together and let the glaze fix the rest!
• If the glaze seems a little thick or gloppy, then thin it out by whisking in a little more maple syrup, or even a squirt of fresh orange juice.
Here's Catherine's original recipe:
In a blender, blend until smooth:
1 can of beans, drained (I use Great Northern Beans, but any white bean will do.)
4 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp salt
In a large bowl, mix until fluffy:
6 Tbs softened butter
1/3 cup sugar (This amount works for my family, you can use more or less depending on your taste.)
Add the blender mixture to the bowl and mix (carefully; it spatters)
3 Tbs flour (I use either coconut or oat flour to help vary their diet. Wheat flour works just fine.)
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp baking powder
optional: 1/4 tsp xanthan gum (Its helpful if you're not using wheat flour.)
Mix until smooth, about 2 minutes on medium speed.
Pour into a greased and floured cake pan and bake at 350 for about 35 minutes.
The glaze is a simple milk and confectioner's sugar glaze. Most weekends, I make three of these, two vanilla cakes and 1 batch of chocolate muffins (good for before ballet and gymnastics). The simplicity of the glaze is key, because I am usually tired after all this cooking.
To make a chocolate version, swap the white beans for black beans and substitute cocoa powder for the flour.
Need a bundt cake pan?