Going to school was not my finest hour as a kid. I treasured every moment of sleep I could get, clung to a couple extra minutes of Today before heading out the door, tried to get lost in morning radio (shout out to Jay Towers back in the 93.1 days – where my Detroit radio junkies at???), and then sat in the car until the last possible moment, skirting being late by the smallest of margins.
For the first handful of years most of these mornings were spent with baby sitters, most of whom I really liked. There was one in particular I still think about. She was nice and fun and hip. I looked up to her, and frankly I wanted to be her for a couple years in grade school. She was a role model I got to hang out with every week day.
Once we parked at school and began the wait until that very very last minute for the walk to the door, she opened the center console of her Ford Explorer and pulled out peach hand lotion from Victoria’s Secret. She pumped some into her hands and then into mine.
At first I hated the smell of that lotion. Artificial peach that wasn’t at all reminiscent of the fuzzy fruit or anything made with it. Instead it was a sickly sweet concoction of floral notes and those found nowhere in nature, only a lab.
But when I was in the classroom, a bundle and jumble of stress and nerves counting the minutes until I could return to her SUV, the smell on my hands became oddly comforting. I looked forward to that pump of lotion and how it lingered on my fingers offering reassurance the day would be over soon.
It’s strange the things we sometimes find comfort in.
Not strange to find comfort in baked goods, though, especially this Sticky Bun Cake that I kind of sort of thought I had shared with you before. Sorry for holding out because this repeat dessert in my oven is out of this world tasty.
It’s a vanilla cake that is great but meant to showcase the irresistible sticky nut topping that is totally customizable to showcase whatever nuts you love. You can probably tell a cake like this is pretty bonkers awesome straight from the oven, but after a day or two, or even a rest in the freezer, all it needs is a little time in the microwave. And I’m not going to lie, an extra drizzle of caramel if you have some in the refrigerator. And caramel in the refrigerator is alllllways a good idea. Because we all need comfort sometimes.Print
A decadent breakfast or dessert treat with vanilla cake and a gooey caramel and nut topping.
2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups pecans (or walnuts or almonds or hazelnuts or a mixture … you get the idea)
¾ cup coconut sugar
1/3 cup pure maple syrup
¼ cup heavy cream
1 ½ cups paleo flour blend (2 cups almond flour, 1 ¼ cups tapioca starch, ¾ cup coconut flour) or all-purpose flour
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon sea salt
½ teaspoon ground cardamom
½ cup maple sugar
2 large eggs
1/3 cup heavy cream
1/3 cup milk (I used almond)
2 teaspoons vanilla bean powder
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F, 325 degrees F convection. Butter an 8 or 9 inch square pan. I have also doubled this for a 9 by 13 pan.
Make the caramel. In a large microwave safe bowl, place 1 stick of butter with the coconut sugar, maple syrup, and ¼ cup of heavy cream. Microwave on high for 1 minute. Stir and microwave on high an additional minute. If the mixture is not bubbling, continue to microwave in 30 second increments until it is.
Pour into the prepared pan, sprinkle with the pecans, and make the batter. In a large bowl, cream the remaining stick of butter with the maple sugar until light and fluffy, using a whisk or hand or stand mixer. Beat in the eggs, one at a time. Add the flour, salt, and cardamom. Slowly incorporate the cream and milk, finishing with the vanilla as the batter comes together.
Dollop the batter over the pecans and spread into an even layer. Bake about 40 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean or with a few crumbs. Cool for 10 minutes.
Carefully invert the cake onto the serving platter of your choosing. Serve warm or store at room temperature up to 3 days or frozen, wrapped in parchment and foil and placed in a zipper bag, up to 3 months. Reheat in the microwave with extra sauce if possible.
Recipe adapted from The Kitchn
- Prep Time: 20 minutes
- Cook Time: 40 minutes