Grandma Piggyback's Broiled Coffee Cake

April 10, 2018
Photo by Ty Mecham
Author Notes

This very easy, excellent cake requires no butter in the batter, but yes cream, and it could not be more light and fluffy. But there’s butter in the topping, along with extra cream, which during broiling transforms into a cracked sugar glaze. Do not over-broil! Enjoy the simple rustic quality of the recipe, and the coffee cake itself. —Jenny Klion

Test Kitchen Notes

To read the beautiful story behind this cake, see the full article. —The Editors

  • Makes 1 8-inch square cake
  • Batter
  • 1 cup Presto or self-rising cake flour, sifted
  • 175 grams (3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons) sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 eggs, beaten, then add heavy cream to make 1 cup
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream (approximate—see note above)
  • Topping
  • 8 tablespoons brown sugar, not packed
  • 5 tablespoons very soft butter
  • 4 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
In This Recipe
  1. Preheat oven to 350° F. Grease or line one 8-inch square pan with parchment.
  2. Whisk together the dry ingredients in a bowl. Add egg and cream mixture, plus vanilla. Beat until smooth. Pour it all in pan and bake for 20 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, make the topping. Mix together sugar, butter, and cream until smooth. Add nuts, and combine.
  4. When cake is golden and springy to the touch, remove from oven. Let the cake cool for about 10 minutes, until it stops being too hot, but warm enough to spread a topping over without it breaking. Using an offset spatula, gently dollop topping evenly over cake. It’s important to make sure these dollops are evenly spread out, so you can cover the cake more evenly with the spatula / it can melt enough to cover the whole cake. Try to leave as little space as possible between the blobs.
  5. Put under broiler until it is melted and gorgeous, about 30 seconds!
  6. Cool in pan on a rack, then cut in squares and serve warm, preferably atop a china plate spray-painted in gold (that's how Grandma Piggyback did it). Adding a touch more cream on top completes this surprisingly elegant dish.

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