Does adding granola mean you can have your cake and eat it too?
While there’s nothing morally wrong with eating cake for breakfast—I do it all the time—there’s always a little whisper in the back of my mind that I’ll be hungry again in half an hour. Even though a cake contains arguably the basic building blocks of an acceptable breakfast — eggs, flour, and milk — wouldn’t I be better off with a savory omelet? Then I remember the cereal commercials of my early 2000s childhood announcing a bowl of milky cereal as “part of a full breakfast.” If a bowl of strawberries and a glass of orange juice could turn sugary granola into a whole meal, why shouldn’t cake do the same?
While I was recently making a favorite strawberry shortcake recipe — a fluffy cornmeal cake with succulent fruit pockets — I noticed a box of unopened cereal staring down at me from the top of my fridge and had a sudden urge to toss in a handful on top of my cake. I dreamed up a nutty, salty-sweet cornflake topping with brown butter that’s the perfect contrast to the first berries of the season.
Adding granola to the cake is certainly not a new concept. A quick search of the web will bring you cakes made with every conceivable granola imaginable, from froot loops to cap’n crunch. Cornflakes are my favorite cereal—boring, I know—but I’ve always loved their feathery crunch and mild corn flavor. First I wanted to get some cornflakes In Both on and off the cake, so I’ve experimented with grinding the flakes into fine crumbs and adding them to the cake batter in varying amounts. But after a lot of trying, I came to the conclusion that there was a reason I had never seen cornflake crumbs in the ingredient list of a cake batter — they left an unpleasant, bitter aftertaste and created a slightly mushy texture. The cornflake topping stood out much more against the background of a plainer cake and provided a contrast to the fluffy crumb. Not to mention that grinding grain into powder is an extra step that most people would probably prefer to skip.
Obviously it’s not fair the muesli that makes this cake a perfect breakfast contender. The light crumb, the crispy topping and the juicy berries are reminiscent of any good coffee cake, which is known to be enjoyed at any time of the day. But whether it is so Part from a full breakfast or just breakfast itself – I promise I won’t tell.