In one of my favorite movies, Sense & Sensibility, Margaret Dashwood asks Colonel Brandon what it’s like in the East Indies. He replies, as if imparting a great secret, “The air is full of spices.”
Whenever someone asks what that wonderful flavor is in a dish, it’s usually a spice. Spices can be subtle, enhancing the flavors of other ingredients—the way pepper does, for example. They can also be the main component, around which other ingredients are based, like in a cinnamon roll.
Cinnamon is a delightful aromatic spice that has been cultivated around the world for centuries. I use Vietnamese cinnamon, which has a more complex flavor than your average grocery store-bought variety, but you can certainly bake with any kind.
From the moment this cake went into the oven, my kitchen was filled with the aromatic scent of cinnamon, and it lingered for hours after the cake was done. The honey glaze is a surprising addition, offering a smooth, sweet flavor that complements the warm, spicy cinnamon cake.
For the streusel:
- 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
- 1/2 cup flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 3 tablespoons cold butter, cut into cubes
In a medium bowl, combine brown sugar, flour, cinnamon, and salt.
Cut in butter with a pastry blender (or two knives) until the mixture resembles small peas.
Place in the freezer until cake batter is ready.
For the cake:
- 2 1/2 cups cake flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 12 tablespoons butter, room temperature
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 3 eggs, room temperature
- 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 1/4 cup sour cream
Spray a 10-inch tube pan with vegetable spray and line the bottom with parchment paper.
In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt; set aside.
Cream together butter and sugar until very light and fluffy.
Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each.
Add vanilla and sour cream, beating until just combined.
With the mixer on low, add flour mixture in thirds until just combined, scraping the sides of the bowl as necessary.
Remove streusel mix from the freezer.
Spoon half the batter into the tube pan and spread evenly with a spatula; sprinkle 3/4 of the streusel mix over the top.
Spoon the remaining batter into the pan, spreading evenly with a spatula; sprinkle the remaining streusel mix on the top.
Bake for 50 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean.
Place the pan on a wire rack to cool before drizzling with glaze.
For the honey glaze:
- 2 cups powdered sugar
- 3 tablespoons honey
- 2 tablespoons water
In a small bowl, mix the powdered sugar, honey, and water together and stir until smooth.
If the glaze is too thick, add a small amount of water to thin it slightly; if the glaze is too thin, add a small amount of powdered sugar to thicken it.
Drizzle over cake.