Yeasted Sugar Cake

How could I not make this cake? It has 3 of my Top 5 Favorite Food Words in its name! (The other two, for the record, are glazed and chocolate.) And I’m sorry I didn’t think to take a picture before we’d eaten half, but here it is anyway, in all its crackling-sugar-crusted glory. Yum.

I thought to make this after last week’s olive oil cake, the recipe I could have (but didn’t) find in Deborah Madison’s Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone; I was reminded that she’s got some nice looking cake recipes in that cookbook. Which I’ve never tried! So now I’m going to try them all (there are only five, so it’s a much easier project than baking one’s way through Nigella’s chocolate cake hall of fame, a chocolate-y journey in which I am stalled, because of the chocolate fruit cake, half way through…)

Anyway, this is a very nice cake. It’s really not terribly sweet, and because of the yeast and eggs, it turns out tasting rather breakfasty, which is to my mind an excellent quality in a cake. I think maybe next time I’ll stir it together in the evening, let it do the first rise in the fridge over night, and then bake it in the morning. It is the kind of cake you want to serve with something, though. I made an orange compote, which was good but would have been better if I hadn’t been so lazy about cutting away all the pith. Warmed-up raspberry or blueberry jam would make a fine sauce for this, and a dollop of whipped cream wouldn’t hurt, either.

The Cake
2 1/4 t yeast (1 envelope)
1/4 c sugar
2 c flour
1/2 t salt
1/2 c warm milk
2 eggs room temperature
4 T butter, at room temperature

other nice additions to stir in with the eggs: 1 tsp lemon or orange zest and 1/2 t vanilla; or 1/2 t crushed anise; or 1/2 c ground almonds and/or a drop of almond extract

The Topping
2 T butter, softened
1/4 c light brown sugar

Stir the yeast and 1 t of the sugar into 1/4 c warm water and let stand until foamy (about 10 minutes). Whisk together the flour, remaining sugar, and salt in a mixing bowl. Add the yeast, milk, and eggs and beat until smooth. Add the butter and beat vigorously until the batter is silky. Scrape down the sides, cover, and let rise till doubled, about 45 minutes.

Lightly butter a 9″ tart or cake pan. Stir down the dough. Now Deborah Madison tells you to turn the dough out onto a floured counter, shape it into a disk, and place it in the pan. My dough was, well, it was batter — way too runny to handle like that. So I just poured it into the pan and it was fine. Either way, once the dough/batter is in the pan, dot or spread the top with the softened butter, sprinkle the whole with the brown sugar, and then let rise for 30 minutes. During the last 15 minutes, preheat oven to 400.

Bake the cake in the center of the oven for 20-25 minutes; the surface should be covered with cracks. Let cool briefly, then unmold and serve, still a bit warm, with fruit and ice or whipped cream.


  1. Libby says:

    Yum! Maybe I’ll make it Saturday for Mom and Dad. (And, for the record, the polenta pound cake is pretty tasty.)

  2. Violeta says:

    Every time you post these beautiful pictures and recipes I think that your house must smell soo yummy ALL THE TIME!
    I need to print these recipes out so I remember to try them.

  3. Anonymous says:

    So glad that I found this site. I have tried to make this cake many times in the past. Mine also was always like watery batter unable to be shaped into a disk. I tried again tonight and just poured it in the pan and it turned out great. I thought that I must not be the only one with this problem since it kept repeating itself so I checked the internet and found that I am not alone! I was so delicious. My family finished it up within an hour. Now I do not get to see if it holds in the fridge overnight.

  4. Daphne says:

    I made that cake for a guest once and he actually told me it was a lot of trouble for bread with sugar on it! I was so annoyed, I haven’t made it since. But now maybe I will…