cake / cake mix / easy to make / kahlua / sweets

how to (not really) adult: coffee cake edition


coffee cake like a boss

A recent study in Psychological Science cataloging the findings of Neil Lewis of the University of Michigan and Daphna Oyserman of the University of Southern California found that subjects would take action sooner if far off events were put in terms of days, rather than months or years, thus tricking the brain into solving some immediate procrastination issues.  Somehow, the smaller unit of measurement helps create a deeper connetion between the current self, who wants to put off that task because the immediate result is a month away, and the future self, who will want that task completed 30 days from now.  Smaller units of time measurement add immediacy.

I am currently unemployed.  Or #funemployed, because I’m taking the advice of every single person I’ve spoken to since I got laid off and “enjoying this time.”  Relaxing.  Taking advantage.  Not at all freaking out that I’m going to burn through my savings because I have no marketable skills after spending the last eight years working in a nebulous media job.

So far, I’ve gone on a couple interviews, done some art modeling, caught up with some friends who were on the verge of becoming strangers, gone to the beach, done my laundry, and drank a lot of coffee.  I’m still too busy to take a train home to visit my parents or fix the bathroom light fixture or sand those shelves I should have sanded 2 years ago.

Even though I’ve made use of my metrocard everyday, I still feel like I haven’t accomplished enough in the last 30 days. Where are the quotas?  Have I applied to enough jobs?  I didn’t teach myself to code!  Why haven’t I done follow up on the connections who never responded to my request for coffee and career advice or taught myself Spanish?

I need different increments of time.

Instead of thinking I had a month before my freelance position started, and a whole quarter until that job ends and I jet off to Thailand after attending a wedding in Santa Barbara, and almost half a year until I need to come home, buckle down, and find a new job, I should have started thinking I only have 120 days until I’m officially a destitute slacker, maybe it would help get myself in gear.

Right after this coffee with a friend.

Since all I want to do is drink coffee with old friends and pretend to do serious work in coffee shops, requiring me to buy coffee but prohibiting me from watching crap on hulu all day, I made these coffee cakes reminiscent of the crème-filled TastyKake Coffee Cakes that used to make me feel like such a grown-up with refined taste, because currently I don’t know how to adult, and I need to adult.  But much like me, these cakes have no class, they just look like they do from the outside. 

These taste best on day two, so wrap tightly with plastic wrap and eat your fill 24 hours later.  No need to refrigerate, that creme filling has no actual cream in it.

ingredients distinctly lacking in class, but containing much delicious

ingredients distinctly lacking in class, but containing much delicious – I don’t know what the rum is doing in this picture – maybe I was drinking it


for the cake

  • 1 package yellow cake mix
  • 1 package instant vanilla pudding
  • 4 eggs (the package of cake mix will call for three, but you need the extra egg to balance the pudding)
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup Kahlua
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1 teas cinnamon
  • 1/2 teas ground nutmeg

for the topping:

  • 1/2 stick (4 Tbs) of unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup packed, dark brown sugar
  • 1 teas cinnamon
  • 1/2 teas ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 teas salt

for the frosting:

  • 2 teas hot water
  • 1/4 teas salt
  • 8oz marshmallow fluff
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 1/3 confectioners sugar
  • 1 teas vanilla extract
  • 1 Tbs Kahlua

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Make the topping: combine butter, flour, brown sugar, nutmeg, cinnamon and salt in a medium bowl and crumble together with hands until it forms pea sized clumps.  If you want it to look like TastyKakes’ weird cylindrical topping, push through a ricer or slotted spoon – but this last step is totally unnecessary, you just need crumbles.

this is how the topping looks when you put it through a ricer

this is how the topping looks when you put it through a ricer

Grease a 9″x13″ cake pan or baking dish and dust with flour.  In a large bowl, combine cake mix, pudding, eggs, oil, water, Kahlua, cinnamon and nutmeg.  Beat with an electric mixer until smooth and lump-free.  Pour into prepared pan.  Bake for 15 minutes, quickly remove from oven, sprinkle topping evenly across the entire cake, and return to oven to bake 15-20 minutes more until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.  (Alcohol in the batter makes the cake rise up over the heavy topping, so you can add the topping before putting the cake in the oven too, but some of it might end up in the middle of the cake – equally delicious, just not as pretty.)

Remove from oven and let cake cool entirely before filling with creme.  You can remove from pan and fill, or leave in the pan and cut pieces out, just don’t try to remove the whole cake after it has been filled.

In the mean time, make the creme filling: in a small bowl or glass, combine salt and hot water until salt is dissolved, set aside.  Combine fluff, shortening, sugar, and vanilla, in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat on high until soft and fluffy.  Add Kahlua and salt solution and beat for a minute or two more until combined.  Fill a pastry bag fitted with a long narrow tip, (it’s apparently called a “bismark tube”!) like Ateco #230 or one of these decorators, (you can find fairly decent ones at the dollar store too), and inject the cake in evenly spaced intervals starting about 1 inch from the edge of the cake so each piece will have a blob of creme – 4×6 injections works well on a 9×13 cake.  Do not over inject and break the cake.

you can barely see the injection site

you can barely see the injection site

If you don’t have a frosting gun with a narrow frosting tip, you can core out spaces with an apple corer or carefully with a knife and fill using a plastic bag with the corner snipped off.

this is how you get creme in your cake without a narrow frosting tip

this is how you get creme in your cake without a narrow frosting tip – this is also what happens when you put the topping on before baking and in a narrow loaf pan, as opposed to halfway through in a larger dish – the crumbles are buried in the middle somewhere…


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