Early Morning Sun Cake

I’m basically chicken: I love to get up and go to bed with the sun.  Of course, if I went to bed with the sun here during the Northwest winter, I’d be asleep before the first coming-home commuters got off the ferry. And so, when the time changes and we fall back into in the pre-winter gloom, I force myself to stay awake until a respectable hour each evening, yawning my way through the too-early twilight, and hoping for a sun-drenched breakfast.

I love breakfast, and I love the morning. I love waking up, and am almost always cheerful and chattery in the morning.  In fact, and I think it’s safe to say this after many years of keeping the secret, a long-ago boyfriend once said “waking up with you is like waking up in a girls’ dormitory.”  Needless to say, he didn’t last long. People who are grumpy in the morning invariably tire of me.

I also love baking breakfast foods, and I used to love eating them.  Now it’s Shel, not formerly a morning person but somewhat reformed by sixteen years of living with my early-bird ways, who is the delighted recipient of my morning baking and says things like “this cake is really good, it’s cakey, rather than muffiny, fluffy rather than dense, not too sweet, and the little jewels of marzipan make it just right.” He says all this while downing an enormous piece with his morning latte, and I think you can take his word on it.  Try this cake and see if your morning doesn’t improve.  If anyone can hold on to morning grumpiness in the face of this cinnamon and marzipan treat, they don’t deserve breakfast.

Early Morning Sun Cake*

1 1/4 cups sour cream
1 1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 1/4 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 3/4 cups flour
1 3/4 tsp baking powder

1/2 cup toasted and chopped walnuts
1 tsp cinnamon
1/3 cup brown sugar
4 oz marzipan, cut into small dice

Preheat oven to 350°.  Butter a 9×13″ baking pan. Mix the topping ingredients together in a small bowl.

Mix the sour cream and baking soda together in a bowl or measuring cup and stir until it begins to fluff up.  Set aside.

In the stand mixer (or by hand if you insist) cream the butter, sugar, and eggs together until smooth and fluffy, about 5 minutes.  Add the flour and baking powder to the butter and mix slowly until just blended.  Add the sour cream all at once, raise mixer speed a little, and beat just until smooth. Do not overbeat.

Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and spread to the edges of the pan.  Scatter the topping evenly over the surface of the batter and press lightly to partially submerge the marzipan bits.  Bake for 35-40 minutes, until the topping is browned and the center tests done with a toothpick. Eat in the sunshine, whenever possible.

* Lightly adapted from a recipe in Morning Food by Margaret  S. Fox, which is a very nice book that I recommend you look for, if you’re a breakfast person like me.

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9 Comments on “Early Morning Sun Cake”

  1. paula Says:

    Sounds yummy. I’m going to try this, the first morning I get up early enough to bake something for my husband. He’s the official breakfast chef, but tha often means just setting out the cereal, fruit, milk, etc. He’d love to be surprised with a real cake.

  2. Jeanne Says:


    My favorite morning pastry is the braided Cream Cheese Coffee Cake from Maida Heatter’s Book of Great American Desserts.

    Having been inspired by your Sun Cake, I am going to make one for breakfast tomorrow. Thank you!

  3. Conni Says:

    I hate mornings, but that cake looks wonderful,sour cream, walnuts, marzipan, mmmmmmm.

  4. Debra Lane Says:

    This looks perfect for my almond paste loving husband! I’ve never really understood the grumpy morning people, but I’ve known a few over the years.

  5. Brother Mark Says:

    I’m definitely going to try this one. Maybe this weekend!

  6. Rebecca Says:

    Cheerful mornings, I’m with you all the way! And, thank you for the recipe you’ve shared here, this cake sounds delicious.

  7. jessica Says:

    I can not wait to try this. Maybe this Sunday. My family will love it!

  8. Amy Says:

    Great post! I’m looking to make some changes in my own eating habits and learning to cook, so I appreciate your insight a lot! Thank you. I recently stumbled upon this blog like I did yours and I thought your readers may appreciate it: http://burisonthecouch.wordpress.com/2010/11/04/food-for-thought/

    I’ve started to look for blog help more regularly and I think I’m going to add your blog to my list as well. Thanks for the post!


  9. I just found your blog from your comment on Dave Lebovitz’s post on raclette… I love it! I’d love to know more about your time in France– do you live there for part of the year? All of the year? It is my life’s dream to live in Europe again; I lived there (Belgium) for 4 years and loved every waking minute! It’s where I became the Food Hound! Can’t wait to follow your blog! Love this cake recipe, too!

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