Butterscotch finger cakes: Lunchbox time travel

I love regional food. There are specialties to be ferreted out all over the country, and no matter where you live, other exiles from your home region all have the same visceral reaction to a particular food that they grew up with.

Being a Jersey girl, I can’t live without Taylor Ham, bagels, sticky and crumb buns (the bakeries Down the Shore in Ocean City still make me swoon). As a child, we went down to Ocean City for family reunions. My grandfather was one of seven children, thus my mother had a healthy number of cousins. One of them, bless him, worked for the Tastykake company in Philadelphia. This family cousin arrived with cases of KandyKakes and Butterscotch Krimpets, which considerably brightened our lunchboxes for weeks afterward. Needless to say, as far as we were concerned this was a one of our coolest relatives.

Krimpets are a classic, small rectangular cakes with distinctly wavy sides that came in butterscotch and jelly flavors. The jelly I could take or leave, and I’m not sure they’re still making them anymore, but the thought of the Butterscotch Krimpets evokes powerful happy memories and more than a little bit of longing.

More than 5 years ago now PJ tossed the idea over to me that I should invent baking recipes for all kinds of lunchbox snack cakes, and I went to town on the idea. Thus it was than in the Autumn 2003 Baking Sheet several home baked versions for things like Drakes’ Yodels and Funnybones and TastyKake classics like the Krimpet were born. That issue created a lot of buzz among Baking Sheet subscribers, who promptly bought up every back issue to be had. This being back-to-school time, it seems right to share this classic once again.

For our Butterscotch Finger Cakes, a 9 x 13-inch pan does yeoman service. Grease and flour it, or for absolute insurance, line the bottom with parchment paper and grease that.
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Put the dry ingredients together.

Cream the butter and sugar, scrape.

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Add one egg, and scrape again. I finally got a picture that explains why this is such a big deal.

See the difference in the texture between the mixture higher up and the mixture sticking to the bottom of the bowl? This is where streaks in your batter come from, making potholes or sugary molten bits in the finished baked good. Of course, if you have butter and sugar making islands of their own in what you’re baking, that means the rest of the dough or batter isn’t getting the proportions of butter and sugar it should have, and that means it’s going to be more dry and less tender.

After three of the five eggs are mixed in, you can see that the mixture is in the mood to start curdling. You can keep this from happening by sneaking in a couple spoonfuls of the flour mixture.

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Once they’re mixed in, the batter’s emulsion is more stable, and the remaining two eggs and flavorings can join the party.

Now for some of the flour

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Alternating with the milk.

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Scrape, mix a bit more, then pour the batter into the pan. Spread it out with an offset spatula, and bake.
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Take them out of the oven when they begin to pull from the edge of the pan, and cool on a rack for 15 minutes.
To take them out of the pan, free up the edges

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Then put a piece of parchent or waxed paper on top.
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Top that with a baking sheet, right side up, then flip everything over to invert the cake onto the parchment paper.

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Let the cake cool the rest of the way while you make the frosting. Melt some of the butter and the butterscotch chips together.

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It won’t look pretty, but that’s ok. Set this aside to cool to room temperature.

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Mix the other half of the butter with half of the confectioners’ sugar until combined.

Add the melted chips and butter,

Mix till smooth.
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Add the rest of the sugar and beat until you have a nice spreadable frosting.

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Plop it all on top of the cooled cake,

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and spread it evenly over the top.

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Since there’s no practical way to cut wavy sides into each snack cake, I decided to use a cake comb to evoke the Krimpet silhouette. Just draw it back and forth in a nice, relaxed arc

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To make a wavy-looking top.

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Cut the cake in thirds lengthwise,

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Then crosswise in inch and a half sections (9ths).
You’ll want to wrap and freeze these for two reasons: if you don’t they’ll disappear in a flash, and once you have the freezer stash, it’s a simple matter to pop one into a lunchbox. They’ll travel better, and be thawed and ready to eat by lunchtime.

Buy or bake:
6 pack of Tastykake Krimpets, 3.79/.63 each
1 Butterscotch finger cake: .21 each

In these uncertain economic times, it’s incredibly satisfying to be able to provide 27 snack cakes for the lunchbox at a fraction of the cost, packaging, and food miles. The only thing that’s missing is the cellophane wrapper!

Susan Reid
About

Chef Susan Reid grew up in New Jersey, graduated from Bates College and the Culinary Institute of America, and is presently the Food Editor of Sift magazine. She does demos, appearances, and answers food (and baking) questions from all quarters.

comments

  1. Angela

    I have searched everywhere for a recipe for those little banana cakes you mentioned above. Can you provide me with a link to one please? I love the recipes from KAF, and searched thru here but couldnt find one. I really appreciate any help you can provide! Thank you!!

    Hi, Angela. The closest recipe I’ve found, flavor-wise, is the banana cake from the Fannie Farmer Cookbook. If you don’t have it drop me a note at susan.reid@kingarthurflour.com and I’ll dig it out and send to you. Susan

    Reply
    1. Susan Reid, post author

      Hi, Angela. The closest thing I’ve found is the banana cake recipe in the Fannie Farmer cookbook, as far as flavor goes. I have it in my files if you can’t put your finger on it yourself. Drop me a note at susan.reid@kingarthurflour.com and I’ll send it your way… Susan

  2. ancameni

    I have started making my daughters lunches and i always try to come with a variety. Thanks to KAF that is so much easier. I was looking around for a little treat for them and finally tried these treats. I am not huge fan of butterscotch so i reluctantly made them today. I have just finished the frosting and cutting and all 3 of us had one treat. They are so great. The cake layer is great and one can’t help but wonder how delicious that would be with bananas. I am curios to the freezing part. How do they look and taste when thawed. I don’t think those babies will last that long to freeze some. How long would they last at room temp? What kind of butterscotch chips did you use. I found some at the store and after melting the frosting looked brownish and not like yours.

    Thanks either way

    ancameni Dear Ancameni: I used the butterscotch chips we carry in our catalogue, which are a find from a new supplier and absolutely the best butterscotch chips I’ve ever tried. I have it on my list to make a banana-walnut version as lamented on an earlier post.
    As for freezing these cakes, after you cut them, put them in the refrigerator for half an hour to make sure the frosting is firmed up. Then wrap each one individually in plastic wrap, and put the wrapped cakes in a large zip-top freezer bag. Take them out and pop them in the lunchboxes frozen; they’ll be thawed and ready to eat by lunchtime. As you’ve probably seen from the earlier posts, freezing is no guarantee they won’t disappear; apparently they’re good to eat frozen, too! Susan

    Reply
  3. Candace R.

    Hi PJ – My vote for snackcake recipes would be Devil Dogs and Drakes Coffee Cakes. On another subject, when I left for the summer it was to promises of the dough rising jar being in the Fall catalog. I haven’t gotten the catalog but I can’t find it on the online catalog. All I see is a plastic one, not nearly as nicely marked as the glass one in earlier photos. Perhaps it’s called something else? It’s chilly now so time to start the woodstove and bake some artisan breads. The measuring cup PJ used in the pictures is the same as the one you see on the web-item 4375. Joan @ the baker’s hotline

    Joan is right – not exactly the same, but the newer version. The one I’ve always used is plastic, not glass. – PJH

    Reply
  4. Spencer

    I just returned to Kansas from my 40th high school reunion outside of Philadelphia–with a side trip to Ocean City. In my bag there was only 2 souvenirs of the trip, my precious cartons of Butterscotch Krimpets. My co-workers knew I had returned for on their desk this morning when they arrived there were a couple of Krimpets for each.

    One co-worker said, “You could make these!” and I told her I had used a copycat recipe last year that I thought lacked a little “something”. I am going to try this recipe hoping that it will satisfy me a bit better.

    I miss scrapple as well. There are so many PA/NJ delicacies that only those to whom these were mother’s milk can truly appreciate. Most just turn their noses up!

    Reply
  5. Sue another Jersey Girl

    Oh…my husband is going to love you. His favorite is Butterscotch Krimpets….followed closely by the jelly ones. My favorite is the KandyKake or as they used to call them TandyKakes…And then you had to go and mention those “crumb buns” from down the shore. We used to get ours on Long Beach Island. Since moving to Georgia I miss all that stuff. On a recent visit to Jersey I carried home on the plane 2 large Taylor Hams and a dozen hard seeded rolls……

    Reply
  6. Jackie

    Does anyone remember having small banana cakes with icing and nuts ?
    They had paper wrapped around the edges of them ? My sisters and I talk about them all the time. We haven’t had them for over 35 years.
    Can’t find them anywhere. I would love to surprise them with some ?
    JackieDear Jackie: I remember the same cakes you’re remembering. I’ve had some success in several different foodservice mileus with the banana cake recipe from the Fannie Farmer Cookbook. Bake it as a 9 x 13, like I did the Krimpets, flip the cake out on it’s top and frost the bottom with confectioner’s sugar frosting with a bit of banana flavoring. Top with chopped walnuts, and cut into finger-sized cakes. I don’t remember who made those little banana cakes, but I had the same “flavor flashback” you’re referring to!—Susan

    Reply
  7. Sharon Lafferty

    Just read the blog about Lunchbox time travel: Butterscotch finger cakes and all the comments made me want the recipe badly, however, the list of ingredients was missing. Could you send me the recipe, please? Thanks, Sharon

    Here’s the link for the Butterscotch Finger Cakes, Sharon – it was kind of hidden (right before the first instructional photo) – enjoy- PJH

    Reply
  8. Kari

    Hi, Carol, I have something to add about your creme-type alcohols question. They certainly do last a long time, but are not good forever. My younger sister and I were cleaning out our parents old liquor cabinet a few years ago and came across an old kahlua (or something similar) bottle that had gone solid (no kidding)…it was crazy. We were tasting the liquors as we went (sots, I know, but we both rarely drink anyway) along, and thought it tasted a little funny. It was like a whey had been created or something. Very strange. So, taste the stuff or sniff carefully if you’ve had the bottle for very long. The nips idea is awesome. Think I might have to try that instead of getting an entire bottle, no matter how “small”, for my recipes.

    Reply
  9. Carol

    Hi PJ! Yes, that makes perfect sense, the pickling part. I will hold onto those bottles! And I’ll look for the nips if there are recipes I need more liquor for. No one would guess I don’t drink with the amount of alcohol in my wine rack! I’d have trouble convincing a judge! I have no moral reason; I just think it tastes bad and Pepsi tastes better! 🙂 I had no idea alcohol promotes recurrence of breast cancer. I’m glad you are only admiring them from afar. We readers of The Baking Sheet and the blogs have come to know and love you and we want you to stick around. So no alcohol for you is RIGHT! I try to use the Ohio apples. We here know that they are the round ones (round like an “O” for Ohio, is how we remember). Ginger Gold ARE nice apples, for sure.

    Reply

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