Day 111: Cinnamon Bun French Toast and Chocolate Cake


OK, that’s not all we ate. It was staggered between a bowl of oatmeal, strawberries and blackberries, leftover bean salad and some greens, but after a mid-afternoon birthday brunch, none of us were much in the mood for dinner. I’ve decided that on these occasions the most recent meal should count as the default.

Besides, I want to tell you about a chocolate cake that’s low in fat, made with canola oil and tastes like a giant Jos Louis.

But first, brunch: the usual suspects – poached eggs, back bacon, and yes hollandaise since I have recently become reacquainted with it and had people over to safely dispose of (read: take home) the leftovers. And cinnamon bun French toast. A few weeks ago my parents dropped by on their way home from IKEA with a 6-pack of cinnamon buns, and since it a) was 9 o’clock at night, and b) there are only 2 1/2 of us, there wasn’t much to do with them but stash them in the freezer until they could be called into service for an occasion such as this. It was either cinnamon bun bread pudding or cinnamon bun French toast; since bread pudding still seems to still have very few fans, I decided not to risk it.

In case you’re wondering, you make cinnamon bun French toast the same way you’d make it with bread; slice them in half or in thirds, crosswise (they’re thick), dip in egg-milk-vanilla, and cook in a well-seasoned cast iron skillet with a bit of canola oil.

Now, the cake. Chocolate, of course, with my favorite frosting: known in my grandma’s battered cookbooks as 7 Minute Frosting, Boiled Icing or Seafoam (when made using brown sugar), it’s a light, creamy, meringue-like, marshmallowy whip that is beaten in a stainless steel bowl set over simmering water in order to cook the egg whites. The light and creamy texture makes it easy to spread, it’s fat-free (yes I realize it’s loaded with sugar, but no more than regular buttercream frosting, which also contains butter and/or shortening), and takes on flavorings and food coloring very well. (The chocolate cake is delish with peppermint-spiked frosting.) Add a few drops of color to the water if you want to tint the frosting, or drop it in at the end to create a swirled effect. My only complaint is that the ultra-whiteness of it tends to show off every chocolate crumb.


Chocolate Cake

Recipe link


April 20, 2008

  • Makes: Makes two 9" layers, 2 dozen cupcakes or one Bundt cake.


1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, or half all-purpose, half whole wheat

1 1/2 cups sugar

3/4 cup cocoa

1 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. salt

1 cup milk (regular or soy)

1/2 cup canola oil

2 large eggs

2 tsp. vanilla extract

1 cup hot coffee or boiling water


1Preheat oven to 350° F. Spray two 9" round baking pans or one Bundt pan with nonstick spray, or line muffin cups with paper liners.

2In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt, breaking up any lumps of brown sugar and cocoa.

3Add the milk, oil, eggs and vanilla and beat with an electric mixer on medium speed for about 2 minutes. Add the coffee and beat on low speed just until blended. The batter will be thin.

4Divide the batter among the prepared pans and bake them for 30-35 minutes for layer cakes, 20-25 minutes for cupcakes or 50-55 minutes for a Bundt cake, until the top of the cakes are springy to the touch. Let them cool for about 10 minutes before running a knife around the edge of the pans and inverting them onto a wire rack. Cool completely before you frost them.

Makes: Makes two 9" layers, 2 dozen cupcakes or one Bundt cake.

Seven Minute Frosting

Recipe link


April 20, 2008


1 1/2 cups sugar

1 Tbsp. light or golden corn syrup

1/3 cup water

2 large egg whites

1 tsp. vanilla, coconut, maple, mint, or other flavored extract


1In the top of a double boiler or in a clean stainless steel bowl set over a pot of simmering water, combine the sugar, corn syrup, water, and egg whites. Make sure the simmering water doesn’t touch the bottom of the bowl or double boiler – you only need an inch or two of water in the pot. Beat the sugar mixture with an electric mixer on high speed for about 7 minutes, until it stands in billowy peaks. Remove it from the heat and beat in the vanilla.

2To make Seafoam (Brown Sugar) Frosting: Substitute packed dark or golden brown sugar for the white sugar.


About Julie

14 comments on “Day 111: Cinnamon Bun French Toast and Chocolate Cake

  1. Romina
    April 20, 2008 at 9:54 pm

    That cake looks divine.

  2. Aggie
    April 20, 2008 at 10:41 pm

    the seafoam icing, using the brown sugar is divine on spice or poppyseed cake, I have made both, many many times.

  3. Colleen
    April 21, 2008 at 7:46 am

    Ahhh 7 minute frosting – when I was a kid, my mom always made me a heart shaped birthday cake on my birthday (as the Bday was close to Feb 14) complete with fluffy 7 minute frosting. Yum.

  4. twomittens
    April 21, 2008 at 2:10 pm

    Can you use less sugar in the frosting or other egg white confections?
    I made pavlova’s the other day, which were super cool, but just so sweet. I am wondering if the sugar is the integral ingredient to the texture/setting or could it be adjusted?

  5. Lauren
    April 21, 2008 at 2:12 pm

    I made bread pudding for the first time this year and I totally won myself over. I, too, am a fan of making French toast out of more, shall we say, specialty breads? Hooray for leftover loaves.

  6. JulieVR
    January 5, 2009 at 6:16 pm

    Sorry I never answered this question! Yes sugar is pretty essential in a meringue.. you can often reduce it (depending on the recipe) but it will affect its texture.

  7. Gail
    February 13, 2010 at 5:31 pm

    The chocolate cupcakes are divine!!! Although I am not fond of chocoalte these little treats are stupendous, of course the delicious frosting is a nice memory of special treats that Mom made.
    This simple recipe made a wonderful Valentine treat for my hubby and the neighbours too, they think I’m brilliant but naturally I told them it was you who is the brilliant one.
    This page has been sent along to a few friends so they too can amaze their families. Thanks so much for sharing.

  8. Erica B.
    December 8, 2010 at 3:36 pm

    Made these as cupcakes again today for C’s 6th Birthday. Perfect as always – Thank you Julie!

  9. Kristin
    February 23, 2011 at 4:26 pm

    Your chocolate cake looks nice and dark – chocolate-y brown, too! :)

  10. Surrogeisha
    December 19, 2011 at 3:37 am

    Canola (Canadian oil, low acid) is a genetically modified organism, and while we in North America will not label these dangerous “foods” our European neighbours are banning them. If you must use canola, please don’t use your vast influence over your fans to promote such an unhealthy choice. Grapeseed oil is a good choice, with a much higher temperature at which it converts to trans-fat.


  11. Siedah Mitchum
    February 25, 2014 at 12:52 pm

    That looks delicious I am so going to try this recipe. 😀

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