Vanilla Bean Malt Cake

Deep down, there's a part of me that believes that I belong in the city. Though I grew up in a city of sixty thousand, I spent most of my youth daydreaming of faraway places. Tropical islands, foreign countries, and big city lights were what I saw (and still see) when I closed my eyes. There was something about the tall buildings, the bustle of both cars and people, and the glowing of the city that I saw on television that drew me in.

Eventually I moved to one such city and fell in love—in love with the culture, the people, and the feeling of belonging. However, as all things go, the day came where I had to say goodbye. I packed my bags and left, my heart breaking in two.

As the years have passed since then, the chaos of the city, both wonderful and maddening, is something I have sorely missed. I made a promise to myself that I would return to the city again one day. When I began applying for jobs last spring, I sent applications far and wide. While I couldn't have predicted where I would end up, the reality surprised everyone, including myself. Instead of moving to my big city, I moved to a small town, population 3000.

I now reside in the heart of lakes country. Life moves slowly and conversation circles around whether the fish are biting and when hunting season begins. It is a very different life from the one I had in the big city, but it is neither better nor worse. There is one thing to be certain, however—it will take some getting used to.

Three stoplights fill the roads, allowing cars to traverse the small town in just a few short minutes. My restaurant options have decreased by ten fold, exchanging chains for mom and pop diners. I have to drive over an hour away to find dairy-free butter, a staple in my kitchen. Some days this place feels smotheringly small, so different and unfamiliar from what I am accustomed, and others it feels like a wide open space, peaceful and inviting.

The other evening I opened my window to allow the night breeze in. While the blinds occasionally rustled, it took me awhile to realize the gravity of what was taking place. There was silence outside the window. No cars on the highway or on the nearby streets, no airplanes overhead or sirens in the distance. It was so quiet I double checked to make sure the window was even open at all. In that moment, I wondered if this small town might just grow on me after all.


Vanilla Bean Malt Cake is a dessert for all weather, warm or cold. The cake has a heavy flavor of malt and vanilla bean, though the crumb itself is light and moist. A light vanilla malt glaze tops the cake, coating the top and soaking into the bottom. I shared this cake with my new coworkers, a small gift of butter and sugar, and it disappeared both quickly and quietly. Light enough for warm fall weather and bold enough for a chilled evening, this cake will find a place on your table during all seasons.

One Year Ago: Cucumber Zucchini Cream Cheese Slices and Banana Rum Bread
Two Years Ago: Coconut Pancakes and Rocky Road Cookies
Three Years Ago: Jean Talon Market and Blueberry Tofu Smoothie

Vanilla Bean Malt Cake

Yields 1 bundt cake

Vanilla Bean Malt Cake
8 tablespoons (113 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/4 cups (280 grams) granulated sugar
3 large eggs
1/2 cup (120 grams) sour cream (or plain, non-fat yogurt)
1/3 cup (75 grams) vegetable oil
Seeds from 1 vanilla bean (or 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/3 cups (265 grams) cake flour
1/3 cup malt powder
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup (240 ml) milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C). Grease and flour a 12-cup bundt pan and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the sour cream, vegetable oil, vanilla bean seeds, and vanilla extract. Gradually add in the cake flour, malt powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Mix in the milk, stirring until batter is uniform and smooth.

Add batter to prepared pan and bake for 45-55 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Allow to cool to room temperature before glazing.

Vanilla Malt Glaze
1 1/2 cups (187 grams) powdered sugar
2 tablespoons malt powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon milk

In a small bowl, mix together all ingredients until smooth. If the glaze is too thick, slowly add a small amount of milk. Likewise, if it is too thin, add more powdered sugar.

To assemble, turn out bundt cake onto a serving platter. Carefully pour the glaze over the top and allow to set for at least 10 minutes before serving.