Cinnamon Toast Crunch Brunch Cake

Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal-infused cake with crunchy praline buttercream for a Christmas brunch!

Cinnamon Toast Crunch Cake Recipe

I had the honour of chatting with our British nanny the other day about traditional English Christmas desserts. She asked if I'd ever made Fruit Cake before, and I nearly laughed. I'm not sure when fruit cake turned into bricks of the most undesirable treat at the dessert table or why they have such a bad reputation, but traditional English Fruit Cake is likely very different than the inedible stuff I saw stacked up at the grocery store last week.

Emily, our lovely nanny straight from London, explained to me how she used to start a batch of fruit cake months before Christmas day. Every few days you poke holes in the top of a dried fruit-filled loaf, feed it sherry, and then flip it over until the sherry completely soaks into the cake. This cycle repeats itself for a month or two until it's ready to become a dense doorstop, I mean, dessert.  Just kidding guys!  I am sure it's lovely.  I wouldn't really know, but I am definitely intrigued and think maybe I should give it a shot next October...

And then there's Christmas pudding, which seems pretty far from any custard that I've ever had. Much unlike any sort of pudding that comes from a box, this is a steamed cake loaded (again) with dried fruit and tons of booze. Emily told me how she would make pudding with her grandmother, each one of the grandkids getting a chance to stir the batter and make a wish. A coin was then hidden in the in the batter to bring luck to whomever found it about three months later.  Yes, 3 months!!  Again with the booze and the soaking, Emily told me her grandmother would store her Christmas puddings in the cupboard months in advance. 

Cinnamon Toast Crunch Cake Recipe
Cinnamon Toast Crunch Cake Recipe
Cinnamon Toast Crunch Cake Recipe

Cake for breakfast, anyone?  This cake is basically the opposite of those traditional English desserts that Emily described. It takes minutes, in comparison, to bake and comes together even faster with the use of one of my favorite store-bough cereals: Cinnamon Toast Crunch. Oh yes, you read that correctly. I've turned a tasty breakfast cereal into a brunch-time treat! The cake is baked with Cinnamon Toast Crunch infused milk that makes it taste just like the cereal. For the frosting, I wanted more than just added cinnamon and cereal topping, so I create a Cinnamon Toast Crunch praline buttercream. Mind-blowing, I tell you.

Cinnamon Toast Crunch Cake Recipe

Using a standard praline base of sugar, water, and cream of tartar, I cooked it all up until golden before quickly stirring in the cereal and spreading it to cool. On its own, the Cinnamon Toast Crunch praline is pretty delicious and could be used as a garnish on your cake.  But to turn it into a buttercream, the praline needs to be ground down in a food processor until it is nearly a powder. The caramelized sugar can be quite hard, so you will need to make sure to grind, grind, grind to keep your guests' teeth from chipping. Who knew a boxed cereal could be transformed into something to really celebrate with?!?

Cinnamon Toast Crunch Cake Recipe

Cinnamon Toast Crunch Cake Recipe
Makes one, four-layer 8-inch round cake; Serves 12 to 16

For the cinnamon cake:
1 3/4  cups milk
1 heaping cup Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal

3 cups + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
2 cups granulated sugar
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
4 large eggs
1 1/2 cup cereal milk

In a large pitcher of bowl, combine the milk and cereal. Carefully weight the cereal down by fitting a bowl or plate on the surface the milk. Let steep for 20 to 30 minutes. When done, strain out the infused milk using a mesh sieve. Gently press down on the cereal with a rubber spatula to release any excess milk. Measure out 1 1/2 cups of milk and set aside. 

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease and flour two, 8-inch cake pans and set aside. 

Sift together the dry ingredients and set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or a large bowl using a hand mixer), mix the butter on medium until smooth.  Add in the sugar and continue to mix until light and fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes.  With the mixer on low, add in the vanilla and the eggs, one at a time. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl.

With the mixer on low, carefully add in half of the dry ingredients. Stream in the milk and mix until combined. Carefully add in the remaining dry ingredients and mix on medium for no more than 30 seconds after the last streaks of flour are combined.

Evenly distribute the batter between the two pans. Bake in the preheated oven for 3o to 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cakes comes out clean. Let the cakes cool on a wire rack for 10 to 20 minutes before removing the cakes from their pans.

For the Cinnamon Toast Crunch Praline:
1 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup water
pinch cream of tartar
2 cups Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Like a baking sheet with parchment or a silicone baking mat and set aside.

Place the sugar, water, and cream of tartar in a small saucepan over high heat. Bring the mixture to a boil and continue to cook, without stirring, until the mixture turns a medium amber color. Remove the saucepan from the heat and quickly stir in the cereal and cinnamon. Tip the mixture onto the prepared pan and quickly spread it into a thin layer with a greased spatula. Allow the praline to completely cool then break into pieces.

For the Cinnamon Toast Crunch Praline Buttercream:
1 1/2 cups finely crushed praline
1/2 teaspoons cinnamon, or to taste
double batch Swiss meringue buttercream

Break the cooled praline in small enough pieces to fit in the bowl of a food processor. Grind the praline into a powder and set aside.

Mix the buttercream until silky smooth. Remove about 2 1/2 cups of buttercream and set aside. 

Stir 1 cup praline and cinnamon into the remaining buttercream.

Assemble the cake:
Once the cakes are cool, carefully cut them in half horizontally with a long, serrated knife to create four, even layers. Place one layer of cake on a cake board or serving dish. Spread on 1 cup of praline buttercream. Top with the next layer of cake and repeat. Crumb coat the cake with the buttercream and chill in the refrigerator for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, use a mesh sieve to sift any large bits out of the remaining praline. Stir the praline powder into the reserved buttercream. This buttercream will be smoother for frosting the outer layer of the cake. 

Smoothly frost the chilled cake with the buttercream. Fill a piping bag fitted with a start tip with any remaining buttercream and pipe swirls around the top of the cake.

 

This post was sponsored by Life Made Delicious. Thoughts and words are all my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that make Style Sweet CA possible.


 

Pear Dulce de Leche Cake Recipe

Tender Pear Cake filled and frosted with a caramel-like Dulce de Leche Buttercream and bits of oat crumble.

Pear cake with dulce de leche buttercream recipe

Canadian Thanksgiving was over a month ago, but that can't seem to keep my overwhelming feelings of thanks and gratitude away.  As the holidays approach, the days grow darker, and the rainy weather keeps us huddled together inside, I can't help but reflect on lucky I am to be surrounded by love, family, and lots of baked goods.  So when our family friend and editor-in-cheif of Risen Magazine asked if I'd share my story, I didn't hesitate to agree.

In the "Expressions" section of the latest issue, you will find my full creative journey.  From ballet lessons to baby bottles, I discuss my motivations for starting my own cake business to trying to do it all as a working mom to ultimately leaning on a bit of faith that these big, life-changing decisions I've made along the way were the right ones for our little family.  Cake design has been my major creative outlet over the past decade, my way of expressing my fears, doubts, joys, and triumphs.  Worry blocks creativity, so I've been trying my best to be more patient, a little less controlling, and to embrace the imperfections in life.  

Pear cake with dulce de leche buttercream recipe

This Pear Cake is slightly adapted from my book Layered.  The shredded pears nearly melt into the cake and keep it incredibly soft and tender. Adding Dulce de Leche to homemade buttercream is so luxurious.  Similar to caramel, the dulce de leche adds a deeper, not-as-sweet creaminess to the frosting.  Making dulce de leche from a can of sweetened condensed milk is super simple, but you may also try a store-bought variety.  

For an additional layer of texture, I added an Oat Crumble in the middle.  The cake is so moist and the buttercream so silky, I really feel like this cake benefits from a bit of crunch.  The oat crumble recipe will certainly make more than you need, so sprinkle leftovers over yogurt or roasted fruit!

Tessa Huff and family

Happy Thanksgiving!!

Pear Dulce de Leche Cake Recipe

For the cake:
2 ½ cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon cardamom (optional)
3 medium pears, such as Bartlett
½ cup vegetable or canola oil
 ¼ cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 large eggs
½ cup buttermilk

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease and flour two 8-inch cake pans and set aside.

Sift together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, baking soda, salt, and cardamom (if using) and set aside.  Peal the pears and shred the pears (a box grater works great here) and place in a mesh sieve (or a few paper towels) over a bowl to drain.  If they are extra juicy, press down gently with a rubber spatula to release some of the excess liquid (or gently bundle them up and squeeze the paper towels).  Set aside.

Using an eclectic mixer, beat together the oil and sugar until combined.  Add in the vanilla and then the eggs, one at a time.  Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl.

Add in half of the flour mixture and mix on low until combined.  Slowly stream in the buttermilk until incorporated.  Add in the remaining flour and mix until mostly combined.  Stop the mixer and fold in the drained shredded pears

Evenly divide the batter between the two pans and bake in the pre-heated oven for 25 to 28 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cakes comes out clean.  Cool on a wire rack for about 20 minutes before removing the cakes from their pans.  Allow cakes to cool completely before frosting.

 

For the buttercream:
2/3 cup prepared or store-bought Dulce de Leche (recipe to follow)
Small batch Swiss Meringue Buttercream

Mix the buttercream until silky smooth.  Add in the Dulce de Leche and mix until fully combined.

 

For the oat crumble (optional):
¼ cup brown sugar
¼ cup all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon cinnamon
pinch salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, diced and softened
½ cup rolled oats

Pre-heat oven to 325 degrees.

Place all of the ingredients in a medium mixing bowl.  Stir together with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula until the mixture forms small clumps of what looks like “wet sand.”  Dump the contents on a lined baking sheet and spread out.  Bake for 8 to 12 minutes (stirring halfway) until the crumble starts to crisp and turn slightly golden brown.  Cool on a wire rack then break up into small pieces (if the pieces are left large, then the cake will be difficult to slice).

 

For the Dulce de Leche:
1 can sweetened condensed milk

Place an unopened can of sweetened condensed milk in a slow-cooker.  Fill with enough water to full submerge the can.  Turn the slow-cooker to “low” and cook for 8 hours.  Very carefully remove the can from the hot water and let it cool at room temperature.  Open the can and store the Dulce de Leche in an air-tight container in the refrigerator. 


Assembly:
Place a cooled cake on a cake board or serving dish.  Spread on about 1 cup of buttercream with an offset spatula or the back of a spoon.  Sprinkle on a generous amount of oat crumble and top with the second layer of cake.  Frost the cake with the buttercream and decorate as desired.

For the boarder, fill a piping bag fitted with a petal tip (Wilton #104), and pipe interlocking "V's" around the top and bottom edges of the cake. Keep the narrow end of the tip facing up as you pipe.

 

Source: https://www.stylesweetca.com

Chocolate Layer Cake with Coconut Caramel

Classic chocolate cake layers with caramel buttercream and coconut caramel drizzle.  It's like liquid gold!!

Chocolate Layer Cake with Coconut Caramel

I have a lot of mixed feelings heading into this post.  Mostly feelings of content, but there's a not so happy reason why I am sharing this particular cake on this particular day.  Don't get me wrong, this might be one of the best tasting cakes I've had in a long time (and I eat A LOT of cake).  You might even say it's life-chaging!  But it's not the only thing changing my life right now... 

Chocolate Cake with Caramel Buttercream - Tessa Huff
Chocolate Layer Cake with Coconut Caramel
Chocolate Layer Cake with Coconut Caramel

Today is a great day, so let's start with the good news: THIS CAKE!!!!  I make so much cake that I tire of it rather quickly.  I test recipes weekly and always have cake in the house, in some form or another.  It takes a really outstanding recipe like this that brings me back for slice after slice instead of just forcing the leftovers on my neighbors or shoving it in the freezer.

This might be one of the tastiest chocolate cakes ever.  It is moist without feeling oily or heavy and full of chocolate flavor.  Thanks to a healthy dose of buttermilk and yogurt keeping it nice and tender, each bite pretty much melts in your mouth.  The one thing that makes this chocolate cake even better?  CARAMEL!!  

Chocolate Cake with Caramel Buttercream

Two things intriguided me about this caramel sauce.  1) there is an option to use coconut milk instead of cream and 2) it is made using a dry method (which I'd never done before).  I thought it might be like any other salted caramel sauce that I've made, but I was pleasantly surprised!  Terrified yes, but happy with the results.

In my go-to caramel sauce, I use a wet method.  I start by bringing sugar, water, and a little squirt of corn syrup to a boil before adding in butter and cream to make the caramel saucey.  The corn syrup keeps the sugar from crystallizing and you don't even have to stir or use a thermometer.  Just watch as it turns from cloudy to boiling to golden!

With a dry caramel method, you melt white sugar in a dry skillet.  Won't it burn?  Won't it turn into a horrific mess?  I held my breath the entire time, but it worked!  The sugar melts on its on rather than burns.  It turns the same deep amber color as the wet method, before stirring in butter and cream (coconut cream, in this case) and then bringing it back to a boil until thick and glossy and delicious.  I love the addition of the subtle coconut flavor, but you could use heavy cream.  The coconut isn't overbearing, but pairs beautifully with the chocolate layers and just elevates the entire cake.

ChocolateCaramelCake_02.jpg
Chocolate Layer Cake with Coconut Caramel
Chocolate Layer Cake with Coconut Caramel
Chocolate Layer Cake with Coconut Caramel

This Chocolate Caramel Cake is from Tieghan Gerard's new cookbook, Half Baked Harvest.  Named after her hugely popular blog, this highly anticipated book has it all!!  From spectacular snack boards and over-the-top desserts to easy weeknight dinners and pics of her family goats, this gorgeous book is packed full of recipes and Tieghan's signature food styling and photography.  I've been following Tieghan's work for years - watching her grow into an Internet super-star with an extensive catalog of delicious, creative recipes to back her up.  She started cooking as a teen for her family of 7(!!!) and blossomed not only into one of the most recognizable young food bloggers but also a charming, mature, and dedicated young woman.  Congrats, girl!  You totally deserve every ounce of success and recognition!

Chocolate Cake with Caramel Buttercream

I chose today to share this cake because I was supposed to be on a flight to Denver this afternoon.  I was invited by Tieghan and her team to join a small group of food bloggers for a culinary retreat in Colorado to celebrate the release of her book.  I don't ever get out on my own like that and this was one of the first big industry meet-ups that I was asked to attend.  I was thrilled!!!  Brett was equally excited and we made all the necessary arrangements for me to take my first solo trip since Everett was born.  Last week, I unfortunately had to cancel...

As I said in the beginning of this post, I write this with very mixed feelings.  Today I fell great and I am mostly content, but I've been dealing with some recurring health issues... I thought my episode with Mal de Debarquement was a one-time thing last year, but it looks like it might be something that I will have to consider forever.  

What's that fancy french word you ask?  MdDS is similar to land sickness.  Ever get off a long flight or a cruise and still feel a bit wobbly for a few hours?  Now imagine that feeling but it doesn't go away for weeks, months, and sometimes years.  I had my first experience with MdDs last year after flying to California and back.  I wrote about my month stuck in bed in this post.  The syndrome is most easily described as something similar to vertigo, but a feeling of rocking/bobbing/swaying instead of spinning. I was given the rare diagnosis last year after landing myself in the ER.  It felt like I was in a row boat in a hurricane.  Thankfully, symptoms eventually subsided and I went into "remission" about 4 to 6 weeks later...

Since I've pretty much felt fine this past year, aside from the motion sickness and migraines I typically get, I thought it was a one-time thing and had no reservations about traveling again.  With my history of motion sickness and migraines, I guess it's no surprise to learn that this could always come back... After our family vacation to Toronto last month, it came back.  Thankfully symptoms were much much milder, but enough for me to come to a realization that I will always be susceptible to MdDS.  

Chocolate Cake with Caramel Buttercream

For the past few weeks, I've been researching symptoms and treatments all while feeling like I am floating around on a pool raft.  There aren't really any "cures," but only ways to manage symptoms and some preventative tips for when you might encounter a trigger (traveling).  I was terrified at first.  What if it never goes away?  What if it gets worse?  Will I ever travel again?  For the first time, I joined an online support group.  Reading about what other people were going through was equal parts comforting and terrifying.  Some had mild symptoms like me while others were suffering for years and years.  

It was devastating when I canceled this highly anticipated trip to Colorado, but I am determined not to let fear keep me from traveling ever again.  I am learning so much now about triggers and how to manage my symptoms (lots of rest and low-stress, two things that I constantly struggle with on a daily basis).  My family doctor suggested I book another appointment with my neurologist (scary that I have one of those now, but it's for my migraines) to discuss vestibular migraines and a treatment plan for when I do eventually travel again.  Just last night, Brett and I booked our flights home for Christmas.  I'm a little scared of what will happen, but mostly feeling excited and confident that I can overcome this terrible illness and not let it control my life.  I read that it's life-altering, not life-threatening, so I will not let it beat me!  Hopefully optimism wins.  And if not, at least I can drown my sorrows in chocolate cake =) 

Chocolate Caramel Cake
adapted from Half Baked Harvest

For the Chocolate Cake
2 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 1/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
3 large eggs
1 cup buttermilk
1/3 cup plain Greek yogurt
3/4 cup canola oil
4 ounces dark chocolate, melted and cooled
1 1/2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup hot coffee

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.  Grease and flour three 8-inch round cake pans and set aside. Stir together the dry ingredients (including the sugar) in a mixing bowl and set aside.

Using an electric mixer, beat the eggs, buttermilk, yogurt, oil, melted chocolate, and vanilla on medium speed for about 3 minutes.  With the mixer on low, add in the dry ingredients in two batches.  Mix until combined.  Stop the mixer and scrape down the bowl.  With the mixer on low, slowly stream in the coffee and mix until combined.

Evenly distribute the cake batter between the prepared pans.  Bake for 3o to 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.  Cool on a wire rack fro about 20 minutes before removing the cakes from their pans.

For the Caramel Buttercream
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
6 ounces cream cheese, softened
3 to 4 cups confectioner's sugar
1/2 to 3/4 cup caramel sauce, or to taste (recipe to follow)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
splash milk, as needed
pinch salt (optional)

Using an electric mixer, beat together the butter and cream cheese until smooth.  With the mixer on low, gradually add the confectioner's sugar until incorporated.  Turn the mixer to medium and mix until combined.  Add in the remaining ingredients and mix until smooth.  Add more/less caramel, sugar, and milk until desired thickness and sweetness is achieved.  

For the Coconut Caramel Sauce
2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups coconut cream, full-fat coconut milk, or heavy cream
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon flaky sea salt

In a large, dry skillet, heat the sugar over medium-high heat.  Cook the sugar until it melts into a medium golden color.  Remove from the heat and carefully whisk in the butter, a tablespoon at a time.  Whisk in the coconut cream.

Return the skillet to medium heat and cook until thick, about 5 minutes.  Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla and salt.  Carefully pour into a heat-safe container and cool.  Sauce will thicken as it cools.

Assembly
Place a cooled cake layer on a cake board or serving plate.  Spread on about 1 cup of buttercream with an offset spatula or the back of a spoon.  Top with the next layer of cake and repeat.  Crumb coat the cake with caramel buttercream and chill in the refrigerator for 15 to 20 minutes.

Frost the cake with the remaining buttercream.  Before serving, slightly reheat the caramel so that it flows (should be thicker than honey) and is about room temperature (not too warm or it might melt the buttercream).  Drizzle over the cake (I start by adding drips around the edges, but can you just pour onto the top and then spread around).  The caramel will most likely continue to slowly drip down the cake, so try to not get discouraged - it will still taste amazing!!

Berry Blitz Torte with King Arthur Flour

Simple sponge cake, crispy pillows of meringue, crunchy almonds, silky pastry cream, and juicy seasonal berries - this rustic dessert is a symphony of textures and subtle flavors.  Be sure to bake this Berry Blitz Torte before summer is officially over!

Berry Torte with crispy meringue and pastry cream filling.

Summer is nearly over.  Say it ain't so!!!  For as much as I love fall, I can't believe another summer has breezed by.  I don't even want to think about the all the rain and dark days ahead.... 

While it is still warm out (which it actually is here in Vancouver), I'll be holding on to summer as long as I possibly can.  This includes baking all the berry desserts before they are gone for the season!!  I just stocked up on all the sale organic strawberries and local raspberries.  Have you?  Are you tired of berry desserts yet and already digging out your pumpkin spice and scarves?  I hope not...

Berry Torte with crispy meringue and pastry cream filling.
Berry Torte with crispy meringue and pastry cream filling.

I you are going to make one final berry dessert before we officially say farewell to summer, let it please be this Berry Blitz Torte!  Trust me, it's a winner.  Want to know how I know this?  It's from the amazingly talented chefs over at King Arthur Flour!

Berry Torte with crispy meringue and pastry cream filling.
Berry Torte with crispy meringue and pastry cream filling.
Berry Torte with crispy meringue and pastry cream filling.
Berry Torte with crispy meringue and pastry cream filling.

I made this Berry Blitz Torte with King Arthur Flour a couple months ago for their May #Bakealong.  I did a little Instagram takeover.  Did you join and bake along with us?

Velvety butter cake, crispy meringue, AND silky pastry cream? Yes please! I love the various textures throughout this torte and how the smooth, creamy filling contrasts with the slight crunch of the baked meringue and almond topping. It might seem complex, but the cake and topping layers actually bake up at the same time! Just spread the cloud-like meringue right on top of the cake base before being sprinkled with the cinnamon/almond mixture and baked to perfection.
Berry Torte with crispy meringue and pastry cream filling.
Berry Torte with crispy meringue and pastry cream filling.
I love decadent pastries and unique flavor combinations, but there is something about the simplicity of fresh berries and cream that makes me swoon every time. With a filling as luscious as this vanilla-scented pastry cream you don’t even need frosting! I am thrilled that berries are finally in season. Not only do they “pop” in color against the pillows of meringue and pastry cream, but also they add a burst of sweet/tart flavour to each bite. Today I went with sliced strawberries and juicy raspberries, but feel free to swap in whatever berries you like! Be sure to tag your tortes #bakealong with @stylesweetca so that I can see your sweet creations!
Berry Torte with crispy meringue and pastry cream filling.

Be sure to join King Arthur Flour every month for a new #Bakealong.  For the recipe for the Berry Blitz Torte, click here.