When my son was little, he couldn't say the "sn" sound very well... which of course we all thought this was THE CUTEST THING EVER! Oh, speech impediments! Aren't they just darling? I know, I know, so wrong. In any case, when he was about 2 years old, before we found out he couldn't eat gluten, there was a bakery near our apartment that made delicious giant snickerdoodle cookies. It was a mommy-son treat to go get a giant snickerdoodle (and coffee for me, of course) and sit on a park bench and talk about dinosaurs, trucks, and everything else 2-year old kids are obsessed with. I'd also make him constantly tell me what kind of cookie we were eating. Because, remember, speech impediment? "Nickerdoodle, nickerdoodle, NICKERDOODLE!" Yes, I know, we'll pay for this later in therapy bills.
Anyways, flash-forward a few years. Sadly, we're not in our Brooklyn neighborhood anymore, and sadly my son can now say "snickerdoodle" properly. But, on the positive side, he doesn't eat gluten anymore, he is extremely healthy, and I've discovered a passion for gluten-free baking. (Oh, yeah, and we have a backyard!)
Enter, the Snickerdoodle Cake. I struggled with what to call this confection really. It's not totally a cake and it's not totally a bar. A car? A bake? Wait, those are already things.... so, I'm going with "cake," since at this point in my life, it sounds more festive than a "bar."
This is an adaptation of a recipe from the Smitten Kitchen Cookbook which I highly recommend. The main adaptation is that I've converted it to gluten-free and I've played with the size of the pan you bake it in. Deb Perelman (the food blogger we all aspire to be, right?) describes these as a cross between a snickerdoodle cookie and a gooey butter cake. With my recipe, you can play with the gooeyness based on the size pan you use to bake it in and how long you choose to bake it. Baked in several smaller pans for a slightly longer bake-time, I've gotten something more cake-like. Baked in one larger lasagne dish for a little bit less time, I end up with something gooier. So, like I always say: it's just baking, don't be intimidated, and play with the recipe until you get what you want!
SNICKERDOODLE CAKE, adapted from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook
CAKE LAYER No. 1
8 TBSPs (115 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1.5 cups (188 grams) gluten-free flour
1 tsp cream of tartar
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup (150 grams) granulated sugar
1 large egg
1/4 cup milk
CAKE LAYER No. 2
1/4 cup cane syrup (light corn syrup would work, as well)
1/4 cup milk
1 TBSP vanilla extract
12 TBSPs (170 grams) butter, at room temperature
1 cup plus 2 TBSPs (225 grams) granulated sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 large egg
1.25 cups (155 grams) gluten-free flour
2 TBSPs sugar
1.5 tsps ground cinnamon
You'll start this recipe by making the batter for Cake Layer No. 1. Using your trusty stand mixer, mix your stick of butter and sugar together on 8 for 2-3 minutes. (Isn't that so Thomas Keller of me to tell you what setting to use for your mixer???) Don't have a Kitchen Aid? That's ok, just cream the butter and sugar together until the mixture is lighter in color and fluffy. (Yum, butter + sugar.) While the mixer is running, whisk together your GF flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, and salt in a separate bowl. Add the egg and milk to the stand mixer and beat until combined, scraping the edges clean. Now, add the dry ingredients to the stand mixer and mix until just combined.
Line a 9"x13"x2" lasagne pan with parchment paper and butter the bottoms and sides of the pan. Once the pan and parchment paper are all greased up, spread the Cake Layer No. 1 Batter from your stand mixer all over the bottom of your prepared pan. It's sort of sticky, so don't worry about making a smooth layer. We're covering this up in just a minute with a second layer of batter.
Now, give that mixing bowl a quick wash and preheat your oven to 350 degrees. We're onto Cake Layer No. 2!!!
Reassemble your stand mixer and cream your butter, sugar, and salt for approximately 2 minutes on 6.... again, not to be too fussy.... just get it light and fluffy. While your mixer is doing it's business, whisk your cane syrup (or corn syrup), milk, and vanilla together in a separate bowl. Now, be the multi-tasking genius that you know you are and check your stand mixer... light and fluffy? Great! Now, add one egg to the stand mixer and blend for approx. 10 seconds.
Now, you're going to mix it all together-- the liquid, the GF flour, and the butter & sugar. But, not all at once... little by little and taking turns with ingredients. First, add 1/3 of your GF flour and mix. Now, add 1/2 of your milk mixture and mix. Repeat this pattern twice, until everything has been added to your stand mixer and blended until just combined. With your spatula or a big spoon, dollop Cake Layer No. 2 Batter on top of your Cake Layer No. 1 and spread it carefully to fill the pan.
Almost done... I promise! Now the crispy cinnamon sugar topping that makes this a Snickerdoodle Cake. Combine the sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl and sprinkle it all over the top of Cake Layer No. 2. It's going to look like A TON, but that's a good thing. A very good thing.
Place your Snickerdoodle Cake in the oven. After 15 minutes, rotate your cake and bake for another 15-20 minutes, depending on the level of gooeyness you desire. The cake I made for this posting, ended up less gooey which made it easier to cut into 2x2 squares, but I have to say that I prefer it more gooey and will cook it for less time the next go around. I think I prefer it just slightly soft in the middle before pulling it out of the oven. Experiment!
Either way, cutting the cake into squares is made easier by the handy-dandy parchment paper sling you baked it on. Let cake completely cool and lift it out of the pan and cut away.
Mmmmm.... 'Nickerdoodle Cake!