So this attempt is a dedication to balancing the budget. Thanks to all the leftover unsalted butter in the refrigerator from Thanksgiving, I had everything on hand for this recipe and you probably do too.
Molly Killeen's version:
Andrew Scrivani for The New York Times
I am a huge fan of mildly sweet desserts, and so when I read Melissa Clark's article about this two-layer cake with a bottom layer that sounded more like bread than cake, I was totally sold.
I hadn't baked in a while and forgot about the foresight needed when it comes to room-temperature ingredients. My solution was to put both the milk and butter on top of the hot toaster oven for a few minutes though I didn't feel great about the partially melted butter.
This bready/cakey layer needed to rise for three hours, which would have meant me putting it in the oven around 9pm. Instead, I remembered something from a previous baking attempt (battle challah?) about allowing bread to rise in the refrigerator overnight--that it actually made for a slower, more complex rise. (I might be making this up about the complex part, but I feel like it's true?)
I took my time, cleaning up as I went along, and guess what? By the time I pulled the cover off the bottom layer, it looked a little puffed up--probably not doubled, but certainly puffed.
Slightly less braced for failure, I poured what was destined to be the gooey layer over the bready layer and put it in the oven.
Uhm. Allow me to explain in terms of The Twilight Saga. Eating this cake is a lot like being a teenager who falls irrevocably in love with an extremely good-looking vampire. You know it's not good for you, but you just can't help yourself. (So I got into The Twilight Saga. So what? Matt started it.)
RECIPE via NY Times:
3 tablespoons milk at room temperature
1 3/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
6 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
3 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 large egg
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
For the topping:
3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon light corn syrup
2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 large egg
1 cup plus 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
Confectioners’ sugar, for sprinkling.
1. In a small bowl, mix milk with 2 tablespoons warm water. Add yeast and whisk gently until it dissolves. Mixture should foam slightly.
2. Using an electric mixer with paddle attachment, cream butter, sugar and salt. Scrape down sides of bowl and beat in the egg. Alternately add flour and the milk mixture, scraping down sides of bowl between each addition. Beat dough on medium speed until it forms a smooth mass and pulls away from sides of bowl, 7 to 10 minutes.
3. Press dough into an ungreased 9-by 13-inch baking dish at least 2 inches deep. Cover dish with plastic wrap or clean tea towel, put in a warm place, and allow to rise until doubled, 2 1/2 to 3 hours.
4. Heat oven to 350 degrees. To prepare topping, in a small bowl, mix corn syrup with 2 tablespoons water and the vanilla. Using an electric mixer with paddle attachment, cream butter, sugar and salt until light and fluffy, 5 to 7 minutes. Scrape down sides of bowl and beat in the egg. Alternately add flour and corn syrup mixture, scraping down sides of bowl between each addition.
5. Spoon topping in large dollops over risen cake and use a spatula to gently spread it in an even layer. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes; cake will rise and fall in waves and have a golden brown top, but will still be liquid in center when done. Allow to cool in pan before sprinkling with confectioners’ sugar for serving.