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Mistake-Proof, Maple-Pecan Crunch Cake

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A novice baker is usually a bit nervous, though not unduly so. In 9 out of 10 cases, however, a first cake is a disaster. Sadly, the first effort has usually been made for a loved one's birthday, and leads to a humiliating, last-minute dash for the bakery.
The thought of trying again is so frightening, that it doesn't happen.
Supermarkets and Bakeries make a fortune selling third-rate cakes to the terrified.
Good baking is not difficult, but it is very precise. Something as simple as measuring the flour incorrectly can mean failure. I receive many letters from readers who, after their first experience, are resigned to the notion that they can, "Cook, but not bake." This recipe is designed for those readers. If you follow the directions, this cake will be perfect. It uses a "doctored" cake mix as the base, in order to avoid common errors in measurement.
The crunch formula is relaxed enough that there will be no problem, even if you don't get it exactly right. It can be made in a food processor, electric mixer, or by hand: with no concern about the usual error of overmixing.
I am going to recommend the purchase of a particular pan, because it is one which will prevent most mistakes about whether the cake is done, and avoid burning, if you are called to the telephone for 5 minutes. The pan is an air-insulated, aluminum, jellyroll sized one, without a nonstick finish. Nonstick finishes are dark, and almost always lead to a cake which is overdone on the outside, before it is cooked on the inside.
There is one other product which I suggest be used, a Vegetable-Oil and Flour based baker's spray. This is not the usual one. Many Vegetable-Oil based sprays claim that they will keep baked goods from sticking to the pan. That is not true. The only ones that will be foolproof are those which contain Flour as an ingredient. These sprays are sold in the baking ingredient aisle of the market.
For the Crunch
1 cup Brown Sugar
1 cup Powdered Sugar
1 cup finely chopped Pecans
1 cup Flaked Coconut
6 tablespoons Butter or Margarine, softened Vegetable-Oil Spray (Non-Flour)
For the Cake
1 box Yellow Cake Mix
1 box (4 serving size) Vanilla flavored Instant Pudding Mix
5 Eggs, room temperature
1 cup Butter or Margarine, melted and slightly cooled
1 cup Sour Cream or Sour Cream Substitute, room temperature
1 tablespoon Artificial Maple Flavoring
2 teaspoons ground Cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground Nutmeg Bakers Spray (Flour and Vegetable-Oil)
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
Place all the ingredients for the Crunch in a large bowl.
Mix thoroughly, and set aside until needed.
Place all the Cake ingredients in the bowl of the Food Processor, or a large mixing bowl.
Process, mix with an Electric Beater, or beat by hand until smooth.
Spray the inside of a jellyroll sized pan with Baker's Spray.
Spread the batter evenly in the pan.
Sprinkle the Crunch evenly over the top of the Batter.
Smooth the top of the crunch with your hand, and press it lightly into the batter. Don't push hard, just light smoothing will do it.
Lightly cover the top of the crunch with Vegetable-Oil Spray.
Copyright 2002 Eddy Robey
Excerpts from It's Not Just Chicken Soup.
hosted by the Gantseh Megillah

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