April 15, 2008
I went to my first baby shower ever on Sunday. In the past half-decade, I have become an accomplished (and well-traveled) bridal shower-goer (and guest of honor, for that matter, but those days are over). I’ve been to showers of all themes (entertainment, lingerie, linen, etc.) and sizes. And, by now, I know the drill. But a baby shower? Well, for that festivity, I am apparently way out of my league. Let’s just say that Kevin and I spent 30 bewildered minutes in a baby boutique last Saturday, staggering between displays of brightly-colored toys and shelves of plush blankets, and bobbing and weaving among an astonishing array of strollers. All to the tune of some sort of Baby Mozart-type overhead music and the squeals of glee from the approximately 700 kids in the store.
Once we finally managed to make a selection, we grabbed our gift (bedecked, appropriately, in It’s-a-Boy-colors) and hightailed it to our next baby shower-related destination: Crate & Barrel, where I was going to pick up a slew of mini-bundt cake pans to make a treat for the shower. I swear, I’ve never been so relieved to see that place. There, I know exactly what I’m doing. I proceeded directly to the baking nook, training my eye on the exact shelf where I know the mini baking molds reside. But my this-is-my-house attitude evaporated when I realized that the absolutely perfect molds that I saw on crateandbarrel.com were out of stock in the store. It was just that kind of day (raining cats and dogs too, I might add).
(Click “more” for the rest of the story, more photos & the recipe.)
While they were out of the mini-bundts I’d envisioned, they did have a canister of the blue (actually more of a cerulean, no?) silicone molds you see here. Not ideal, I knew, but at this point, my patience (something I do not possess a great deal of to begin with) was wearing thin. I snatched up a canister, brandished a gift certificate at the check-out (the aforementioned bridal showers where I was the guest of honor continue to pay dividends, you see) and went on my merry way.
Once I was back home in the kitchen, I put the little blue buggers to work. The molds were a bit smaller than I originally envisioned (these were cupcake/muffin-sized) and I knew the silicone wouldn’t impart the firmer, more golden outer texture produced by a metal mold. But they still came out pretty well: dainty and very baby shower-ish indeed. Looks aside, I knew the cake would be good, because it’s one I’ve made before.
Once I got beyond my status as a total baby shower rookie and the whole mini-bundt disappointment (a little bitter, eh?), the shower was fabulous. And I couldn’t be more thrilled for the parents-to-be!
(1) Preheat the oven to 350.
(2) Make your favorite coffee cake recipe (such as this one). You will have to play around with the quantity a bit. If the original recipe calls for a bundt or tube pan or a 9 x 13 baking dish and if you are using molds like mine or a cupcake/muffin tin, you should halve the original recipe. I halved the Ina Garten recipe and had very little leftover batter.
(3) Make the streusel that accompanies your favorite coffee cake recipe (such as this one), but take care to finely chop the nuts (or omit them). Here too, halve the recipe.
(4) If you are using mini molds, line a baking sheet with parchment paper and place the molds on top. If the molds are metal, grease them (there is no need if you’re using silicone molds). If you are using a muffin tin, grease the tin or use liners.
(5) Scoop a small amount (I used a level tablespoon) of the cake batter into the bottom of each mold or muffin cup. Use a small spoon or a fingertip (dipped in water, to prevent sticking) to smooth out the batter. Sprinkle a small amount (I used a teaspoon) of streusel over the batter. Scoop a slightly larger amount (I used a rounded tablespoon) of batter over the streusel in each mold or cup. Smooth out the batter.
(6) Bake. The baking time will vary based on your cake recipe and molds. I started to check mine at about 20 minutes and ended up baking for a total of 30 minutes.
(7) Allow the cakes to cool. In the meantime, make a glaze. I combined 1/4 cup powdered sugar, 1/4 teaspoon of almond extract and 2 tablespoons of water in a small bowl and stirred with a fork until the glaze was smooth. Once the cakes are cool, remove them from their molds and drizzle them with the glaze. Top with sliced almonds, if desired.