The Southern culture is a great jambalaya of various influences, and nowhere is this more evident than in a study of Southern foodways. In every region, state, and even within each city, you will find many delicious examples of the diverse peoples who settled the region and put their stamp on the food scene. The recipe for the Moravian Sugar Cake is one of those examples, having been brought to the region by the Moravians in the 18th century when they settled areas in what is now North Carolina. A close cousin to the Moravian Sugar Cake is this flavor-filled Polish Sugar Cake, sent to Southern Living by Ms. RaNelle T. Simon of Lafayette, Louisiana, and published in the November 1989 issue. Instead of the traditional Moravian-style topping of butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon, Ms. Simon gave her variation a glaze of powdered sugar and milk.
2 packages dry yeast
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 cup warm water (105˚ to 115˚)
3/4 cup water
2 tablespoons instant nonfat dry milk powder
1/2 cup butter or margarine
2 1/2 to 3 cups all-purpose flour, divided
1/4 cup instant mashed potato granules
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs, beaten
3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 cup chopped pecans
1/3 cup butter or margarine, melted
3/4 cup sifted powdered sugar
1 tablespoon milk
How to Make It
Dissolve yeast and 1/2 teaspoon sugar in 1/2 cup warm water in a large bowl; let stand 5 minutes.
Combine 3/4 cup water, milk powder, and 1/2 cup butter in a saucepan; heat until butter melts, stirring occasionally. Add yeast mixture, 1 cup flour, and next 4 ingredients; stir until smooth. Stir in enough remaining flour to make a soft dough.
Cover and let rise in a warm place (85˚), free from drafts, 1 hour or until doubled in bulk.
Punch dough down; cover and let rise 30 minutes or until doubled in bulk. Punch dough down, and spread in a lightly greased 15- x 10- x 1-inch jellyroll pan.
Combine brown sugar, cinnamon, and pecans; sprinkle evenly over dough. Make shallow indentations in dough at 1-inch intervals, using the round handle of a wooden spoon. Drizzle dough with 1/3 cup melted butter; let rise 30 minutes or until doubled in bulk. Bake at 375˚ for 12 to 15 minutes or until done.
Combine powdered sugar and milk in a small bowl; drizzle mixture over warm coffee cake. Cut cake into squares.