Baking History

A Taste For The Past

Moravian Sugar Cake

Posted by bakinghistory on June 13, 2007


Cinnamon is the spice that gives this cake its wonderful aroma. In the very words of Miss Leslie, author of this recipe, “this is a very good plain cake”. I do agree.

From the original recipe by Eliza Leslie

In “Directions for Cookery, In Its Various Branches” 1840-USA


1. For the Sponge

1/4 lb (115 g) unsalted butter

2 cups (475 ml) whole milk

3/4 lb (340 g) bread flour

2-1/4 tsp (1/4 oz–7 g) active dry yeast (or 0.6 oz–14 g fresh yeast)

1/4 tsp (1.5 g) salt

2. For the Dough

1 large egg

1 tbsp (7 g) ground cinnamon

3/4 lb (340 g) bread flour

3. For the Filling

5 oz (3/4 cup–140 g) brown sugar

2 oz (2 tbsp–60 g) unsalted butter (room temperature)

2 tbsp (14 g) ground cinnamon

2 tbsp (28 g) brown sugar to sprinkle on top of the cake

Make the Sponge: Scald the milk, then let it cool to 100°F (38°C). In the bowl of a stand mixer pour the warm milk and dissolve the yeast in it; add the softened butter and stir on the lowest speed (use the flat beater attachment) to mix them well, then add the flour and finally the salt. Continue mixing on the lowest speed for 1 minute. Cover the bowl and let the sponge to rise until bubbly and doubled in bulk.

Make the dough: Add the beaten egg to the sponge and mix with the flat beater at the lowest speed until well mixed. Switch to the dough hook, add the flour sifted with the ground cinnamon and mix on the lowest speed for about 10 minutes. The dough will be soft, supple, and only barely tacky. Let the dough rest for about 15 minutes, covered.

Line a 9 x 13 in. (23 x 33 cm) pan with aluminum foil, then generously butter the aluminum foil. Arrange the dough in the pan, flattening it with the palm of your hands to cover the bottom of the pan; let rise, covered, until the cake is light and almost doubled in bulk.

Preheat the oven at 350°F (180°C).

Make the filling: Mix brown sugar, cinnamon and butter and set aside.

Filling the cake: when the cake has risen make deep parallel slits all over it using sharp kitchen scissors. Fill each slit with about 1/2 tbsp of the cinnamon filling, pushing it down almost to the bottom, then pinch the edges closed after filling each slit.

Sprinkle the extra 2 tbsp of brown sugar over the cake and bake it for about 45 minutes, or until golden brown. Take the cake out of the pan (the liner makes this really easy) and let it cool on a rack.


2 Responses to “Moravian Sugar Cake”

  1. Jim Ellis said

    I don’t know what this is, but it isn’t Moravian Sugar Cake. Moravian Sugar cake is a soft potato bread dough. I don’t see potatoes in this recipe.

  2. bakinghistory said

    @ Jim: You are right, in more recent versions of this cake potatoes are included in the dough, and actually in the most recent ones instant potato flakes take the place of mashed potatoes. This is an old version that did not include them, however the final result is moist and keeps fresh for a few days.

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