I remember helping my mom make Pinch-Me Cake as a little girl. I loved rolling the yeasty dough into balls and covering it with cinnamon and sugar. It smelled wonderful while it was baking and tasted even better later when we ate it.
There was something special about the eating of it, too. Once, for a special family celebration, we made it and when the women had settled down at the table to talk, the Pinch-Me Cake went in the middle. Everyone pinched off pieces as they caught up with what was happening in each other's lives. It was, at least for me, the social centerpiece of the party, and I've never forgotten it.
I don't think my kids are likely to forget it, either. They LOVED making this cake - every aspect of it. We made it for a special breakfast, served with fresh fruit, and we sat around the table on an icy Saturday morning enjoying a breakfast together. With only four of us, we had leftovers the next day, which made everyone happy again.
This cake's specialness doesn't happen in the blink of an eye, though. It takes time to put together - not just concentrated time, but slow, take-a-big-part-of-your-day time. The bread needs to rise and roll and rise again and bake, so this is a great project for an at-home day. It does most of the work itself, but it does require frequent checks - and kids love to help make it.
Pinch-Me Cake is worth the effort, though. It's definitely one of those meals that makes people appreciate something done well. If, however, you really want to speed up the process, you can use frozen bread dough, and that will allow you to skip several steps.
We chose to make this now as part of our Amish studies unit - for in central Pennsylvania where I'm from, you often see a treat of this sort at Amish roadside stands. We've lightened it up a bit here with a yummy whole wheat dough, but there's still plenty of cinnamony sweetness. Amish or not, this makes a fun treat for the whole family.
- 5 3/4 - 6 1/4 c. white-wheat flour
- 2 1/4 c. milk
- 2 T. honey
- 2 1/4 t. active dry yeast
- 2 t. salt
- 1 T. butter
- 1/2 c. sugar
- 1 stick butter
- 1 c. brown sugar + handful
- Combine the flour and yeast.
- In a small saucepan, heat milk, honey, butter, and salt until just warm, stirring constantly.
- Add to dry mixture and beat at low speed for 1/2 minute.
- Scrape sides of bowl.
- Beat for 3 more minutes at high speed.
- Slowly stir in enough of the remaining flour to make a moderately stiff dough.
- Knead for 8-10 minutes, until smooth and elastic.
- Shape into a ball.
- Place dough in a lightly greased bowl, turning once to grease surface.
- Cover; let rise in a warm place 'til double, about 1 1/4 hours.
- Punch dough down.
- Divide dough in half.
- Combine 1/2 c. sugar with enough cinnamon to become a warm brown color in a small bowl.
- Pull off dough the size of a walnut and roll gently into a ball. Roll in the cinnamon- sugar mixture. Place into a buttered Bundt pan. Repeat until you have used half the dough.
- Sprinkle a handful of brown sugar over the dough balls in the Bundt pan.
- Repeat rolling process with second half of the dough.
- Cover and let rise in a warm place until 1 inch from the top of the pan, about 30 - 45 minutes.
- In a small saucepan, melt 1/2 cup of butter and stir in the brown sugar to make a 'goo.'
- Pour 'goo' over the dough in the Bundt pan.
- Bake at 350 degrees for 30 - 35 minutes.
- Turn out onto a foil-covered pan.
- Serve warm.
The picture of only a partial cake above? That's because people started eating it as soon as I flipped it over - there was never a whole cake to photograh. Pinch-Me Cake is always a hit.
What's your favorite special occasion dish?