I’m honored to again be partnering with the Idaho® Potato Commission to bring you this recipe for one of my favorite ever Christmas coffee cakes: The Moravian Sugar Cake. Swoony!
Friends, I have written about the manna that is Moravian Sugar Cake before here on Ye Olde Blogge. It is just That Good. Search for it here–you’ll see.
So, what is different about this new recipe?
I have made the dough a touch leaner to accommodate the copious amounts of toppings, and I can now share (since I have learned since last time) the best way to reheat Moravian Sugar Cake. As a bonus, I baked half of my dough in a half sheet pan to make a traditional thin cake (pictured above), and I baked the other half in a 9 x 13″ pan for a thicker cake. A slice of that is pictured below. After taste testing, I can tell you that both are delicious and wonderful, although it is slightly easier to reheat the thin slices of Moravian Sugar Cake in the Authentic Way I’m going to show you.
Also, and I was never sure I would ever say this, my photos are now so much better than they were! I’m hoping these photos will entice all of you who are new to the wiles of Moravian Sugar Cake to take the plunge. Sometimes all it takes is a pretty picture. And while Moravians everywhere are content to keep this treat to themselves, I want even non-Moravians–like me–to enjoy Moravian Sugar Cake because it is the perfect Christmas Coffee Cake.
To round out the updated awesomeness, I have made this version using an overnight rise. You can choose to do the same, you can just bake straight through. Your choice.
What Is Moravian Sugar Cake?
Well. Let me tell you. Moravian Sugar Cake is a treat that is made all year round in the Moravian community but gets super popular around both Easter and Christmas, when many Moravian churches make cakes to sell for fundraisers.
At it’s heart, Moravian Sugar Cake is a potato-based enriched, soft yeast dough topped with a veritable avalanche of brown sugar, cinnamon and butter. It’s the kind of Christmas coffee cake that is so delicious it needs to be made not by the pan but by the yard.
Who Are The Moravians?
I shall let the find folks from the Waconia Moravian Church from Waconia, Minnesota tell you (what?! I swear I thought the Moravians were pretty much only in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania and Winston-Salem, NC! Thank you, fine folks at Waconia Moravian Church for spreading the gospel of the Moravian Sugar Cake to the great upper midwest!)
Anyway, back to the lesson.
The Moravians settled in North America from what is now The Czech Republic and Slovakia by way of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania in the mid-ish 1700s. But enough about the history. So, what is Moravian Sugar Cake, exactly?
See? It’s really all about the sugar cake!
Seriously, if you would like to learn more of the history of the Moravian church, here is a history from The Moravian Church in North America whose motto is “In Essentials, Unity. In Nonessentials, Liberty. In All Things, Love” which seems to be an excellent motto to live by.
Can We Eat Yet?
Nope. Not yet. First, a Q & A to help you achieve success.
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Is It Hard to Make Moravian Sugar Cake?
No, it is not. This is pretty much a straight dough method where everyone goes in the pool together. The dough does take a lot of kneading, so your life will be much easier if you use a stand mixer. Also, this make a ton, so if you have a 5 quart mixer, consider cutting the recipe in half. A 5-quart mixer will barely handle a full recipe, so your mixer will thank you to not be a hero. If you have a 6-quart or 7-quart stand mixer, then proceed with the entire recipe.
What Is The Best Way To Reheat Moravian Sugar Cake?
Friend, I am so glad you asked. I had an Actual Moravian share this tip with me in the comments of my original Moravian Sugar Cake recipe, and it pretty much changed everything.
Here’s what you do:
- Heat a cast iron skillet over medium heat until hot.
- Add a couple of tablespoons of real butter and let it melt and start sizzling.
- Nestle your square of Moravian Sugar Cake down in that butter and let it sizzle away until the sugars caramelize on the bottom and the butter starts to brown and get nutty.
- Flip that guy over and let him get all nice and sizzly on top, too.
- Eat, and relish the delightfully sticky-crispy bottom and top and the soft interior. Heaven with a cup of coffee or tea!
Can My Husband Help?
That’s cute, but no. For God’s sake, keep him away from this stuff. I say this because I already know you won’t want to share, and now you can blame your selfishness on me. You’re welcome.
Other things the man can do to keep busy and out of your way.
- Put together the new cat tree.
- Or the new dog house, if you have dogs.
- Hang your beautiful new wind chimes.
- Vacuum everything. You don’t have time for that. You’re baking.
What Size Pan Should I Use?
While all the Moravian Sugar Cake I’ve had has been baked in square pans, there is also a school of thought that says you may use round pans, so it’s up to you. In other words, use what you have.
For square (well, rectangular) pans, I baked in 2 sizes so I could test whether a thicker cake or a thinner cake is more delicious. I actually found I liked both equally, but I give the reheating edge to the thin cake.
Moravian Sugar Cake
Okay. Let’s do this.
For the Dough:
- 8 oz 1 packed cup mashed potato (Idaho® russet potato cooked in lightly salted water)
- ½ cup water from cooking the potatoes
- 1 cup whole milk, warm but not hot
- 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, I use Morton’s
- ⅓ cup granulated sugar
- 4 oz melted butter
- 1 large egg
- 32 oz 2 pounds all purpose flour (I use Gold Medal)
- 2 teaspoons dry yeast
For the Topping:
- 2 sticks unsalted butter, melted
- 2 packed cups light brown sugar, divided
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
For the Dough:
- Place the warm mashed potatoes in the bowl of your stand mixer.
- Add the potato water, milk, salt, and sugar.
- Fit your mixer with the paddle attachment and mix on medium low speed until the potato mixture is smooth.
- Mix in the melted butter and the egg.
- Add all the flour on top of the potato mixture followed by the yeast.
- Knead on medium speed for about 15 minutes, until the dough is smooth, shiny, stretchy and clears the sides of the mixer bowl. The dough is very soft and will stick on the sides and in the bottom of the mixer bowl. After several minutes of kneading, it should only stick in the bottom.
- Scrape the dough into a rough ball in the mixer bowl, spray with a bit of oil or pan spray, cover and refrigerate for 8-12 hours.
For the Topping:
- Whisk the brown sugar and cinnamon together thoroughly. Divide in half.
To Finish and Bake:
- Remove the dough from the refrigerator, and split the dough in two equal parts. If you have a scale, weigh the entire mass and divide by two to make sure you have even halves.
- Line 2 9 x 13” or 13 x 9” pans (or one of each) with parchment, allowing the two short sides to extend over the edges of the pan..
- Divide the dough into two equal parts.
- Place each piece of dough in each pan, and then use your hands to press the dough out to completely fill each pan. Your dough will be about ½” thick in the 9 x 13” and about ¼” thick in the 13 x 18”. It might take awhile to work the dough into all the corners, but I promise it can be cone.
- Spray the tops of both cakes with pan spray, and cover. Let rise in a warm place until doubled. This could take up to 3-4 hours, depending on the temperature of your kitchen..
- Once the dough has risen well, take them out and make holes with your fingertips all the way through the dough. Space the holes maybe an inch to an inch and a half apart.
- Sprinkle one half of the brown sugar, cinnamon mixture over each cake. Then the melted butter evenly over the cakes, one stick per cake.
- Cover and let rise an additional 30-45 minutes until puffy. Heat the oven to 400F and position racks in the top and bottom thirds of the oven.
- Bake 12-15 minutes for the 13 x 18” cakes and 20-22 minutes for the 9 x 13” cakes. Rotate the pans and racks halfway through baking.
- Once the cakes are done, run a thin spatula along the long sides of the pan to make sure there was no sticking. Allow to cool in the pans for 15 minutes, and then use the parchment to help lift the cakes out of the pans. Allow to cool to warm before serving, or cool completely and reheat to serve. (See Notes)
You can absolutely divide this recipe in half if you don’t want quite so much Moravian Sugar Cake. If you do make the whole recipe, a 5-quart stand mixer will get the job done, but a 6-quart mixer would work better.
To reheat Moravian Sugar Cake, you can put it in the microwave for a few seconds or place it, wrapped in foil, in a moderate oven. But the traditional way to reheat it is to fry it in a skillet with a good amount of butter.
Time indicated is active time only and does not include the refrigerator time or rising time.
Thank you once again to the Idaho® Potato Commission for partnering with me on this post. I do love working with my friends at IPC.
If you’re looking for more sweet yeasted goodness, I have a whole category of that!
I truly hope you’ll enjoy this version of Moravian Sugar Cake. I enjoyed a little too much, so in an act of extreme desperation, self-denial and self-control, I ended up sending most of it to work with The Beloved. It was all gone before lunch.
Thank you for spending some time with me today. Take care, and have a lovely day.