I spent my first semester of college in a small town in eastern Kentucky, Pippa Passes. One of my most treasured souvenirs of those tumultuous four months of my life is a cookbook sold by Caney Baptist Church to raise funds. I received my copy of "What's cooking on Caney Creek?" as a Christmas gift from a student co-worker in the financial aid office.
Most of the recipes intimidated me back then, but I tried some of them anyway and they quickly became favorites. Honey Bun Cake was not one of those. It has been patiently waiting on me some fifteen years in the pages of this book. Unassuming. Unintimidating. So easy, in fact, you can make it with a 20 month old.
Step 1: Ingredients
1 box yellow cake mix
1 cup sour cream
1/4 cup oil
1 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 cup powdered sugar
warm water (more details to come, don't worry)
Step 2: Make the Cake Batter
Mix the cake mix, eggs, oil and sour cream. The recipe says mix by hand. I'm not sure why that would be important, but I followed that instruction and it wasn't too difficult.
Pour half of the batter into a greased 9x13 pan.
Step 3: Mix Up the Good Stuff.
Combine the brown sugar and cinnamon. Sprinkle it over the layer of batter in the pan.
Step 4: Check on Your Toddler.
Remember the 20 month old you have helping you? He might be sitting on the dining room table eating blackberry cobbler with his hands. You might want to do something about that.
Step 5: Finish Up the Cake.
Spread the rest of your batter on over the cinnamon and sugar mixture. This is not how I imagined it would turn out. But this is what mine looked like. It's okay if yours looks like this too.
Bake for 35 minutes at the heat specified on the cake mix box.
Step 6: Where'd the Toddler Go?
Sometimes when you're trying to cook, your toddler will disappear. This is generally okay if you live in a house that has grown accustomed to sheltering a toddler. They are loud creatures and easy to track. But sometimes they are quiet. This could mean anything. Your favorite eye shadow could be used to make a work of art on your wall. A rogue scientific float/sink study could be conducted in your toilet. Or... the toddler could have settled in with a book in his rocking chair and your heart could melt with love and relief at the sight.
Step 7: Make the Icing for Your Very Large Honey Bun.
Put powdered sugar in a bowl. Add warm water, one tablespoon at a time, until icing reaches your preferred consistency. It should be thick. If you think you've made it too thin, just add more powdered sugar to thicken it up.
Step 8: Ice Your Bun.
The cake looks much better baked than as batter. That messy top layer is beautified in the oven! While the cake is still hot, cover it completely with the sugar and water mixture. The icing will melt and cover the entire top, resembling the finished picture at the beginning - a big fat honey bun cake!
Step 9: Don't Fret the Mess.
Cooking with a toddler can be especially messy. Sometimes your kitchen will look like this. Remember, your toddler is still learning to cook and assumes you will need far more tools than you actually do. Take a deep breath. Close your eyes and go to your happy place. Eat your honey bun cake. It will be okay.