Sunday, March 27, 2011

Daring Bakers in March

Going into this month's Daring Baker challenge, I hoped that I would be able to participate but wasn't sure.  However, I had a light day at the beginning of the month and decided to take advantage.  Let me just say that it's a good thing I did or else this challenge would not have been completed.  The March 2011 Daring Baker’s Challenge was hosted by Ria of Ria’s Collection and Jamie of Life’s a Feast. Ria and Jamie challenged The Daring Bakers to bake a yeasted Meringue Coffee Cake.

Making the dough was fairly simple but I did have some trouble rolling the dough out.  Every time I would roll, it pulled back and I never could get it the size or thinness that I wanted.  Also, my mixing bowl was dirty when I made this and I was too lazy to wash it; so, I tried to whip the egg whites with my own little arms!  Well, the fluffed up but didn't get quite as stiff as they should have...but I was tired! I stopped.  When I rolled up the dough, the meringue pushed out some.  Apparently, it didn't matter...

I used chocolate, butterscotch chips, and pecans as my filling.  I took it to work the next morning and one of the interns (who was post-call) tried a piece...and then later told me that he had gone back for three more! 
:-)  I think it was good. 

The dough really reminded me of King Cake dough...soft and mildly sweet.  Yum!  When I told my mom that I was making the challenge so early in the month, I told her I would freeze some for her visit later...and then forgot that I had done so.  When she came, I was looking the freezer and saw this bag with something wrapped in aluminum foil.  I figured she brought it but she insisted that she didn't.  FINALLY, I remember what it froze PERFECTLY!  So, if you find that the recipe makes too much just wrap it well and freeze to enjoy later!

Makes 2 round coffee cakes, each approximately 10 inches in diameter
The recipe can easily be halved to make one round coffee cake

For the yeast coffee cake dough:
4 cups (600 g / 1.5 lbs.) flour
¼ cup (55 g / 2 oz.) sugar
¾ teaspoon (5 g / ¼ oz.) salt
1 package (2 ¼ teaspoons / 7 g / less than an ounce) active dried yeast
¾ cup (180 ml / 6 fl. oz.) whole milk - I used skim
¼ cup (60 ml / 2 fl. oz. water (doesn’t matter what temperature)
½ cup (135 g / 4.75 oz.) unsalted butter at room temperature
2 large eggs at room temperature

For the meringue:
3 large egg whites at room temperature
¼ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon vanilla
½ cup (110 g / 4 oz.) sugar

Jamie’s version:
1 cup (110 g / 4 oz.) chopped pecans or walnuts
2 Tablespoons (30 g / 1 oz.) granulated sugar
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup (170 g / 6 oz.) semisweet chocolate chips or coarsely chopped chocolate

Prepare the dough:
In a large mixing bowl, combine 1 ½ cups (230 g) of the flour, the sugar, salt and yeast.

In a saucepan, combine the milk, water and butter and heat over medium heat until warm and the butter is just melted.   With an electric mixer on low speed, gradually add the warm liquid to the flour/yeast mixture, beating until well blended. Increase mixer speed to medium and beat 2 minutes. Add the eggs and 1 cup (150 g) flour and beat for 2 more minutes.

Using a wooden spoon, stir in enough of the remaining flour to make a dough that holds together. Turn out onto a floured surface (use any of the 1 ½ cups of flour remaining) and knead the dough for 8 to 10 minutes until the dough is soft, smooth, sexy and elastic, keeping the work surface floured and adding extra flour as needed.

Place the dough in a lightly greased (I use vegetable oil) bowl, turning to coat all sides. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and a kitchen towel and let rise until double in bulk, 45 – 60 minutes. The rising time will depend on the type of yeast you use.

Prepare your filling:In a small bowl, combine the cinnamon and sugar for the filling if using. You can add the chopped nuts to this if you like, but I find it easier to sprinkle on both the nuts and the chocolate separately.

Once the dough has doubled, make the meringue:

In a clean mixing bowl – ideally a plastic or metal bowl so the egg whites adhere to the side (they slip on glass) and you don’t end up with liquid remaining in the bottom – beat the egg whites with the salt, first on low speed for 30 seconds, then increase to high and continue beating until foamy and opaque. Add the vanilla then start adding the ½ cup sugar, a tablespoon at a time as you beat, until very stiff, glossy peaks form.

Assemble the Coffee Cakes:
Punch down the dough and divide in half. On a lightly floured surface, working one piece of the dough at a time (keep the other half of the dough wrapped in plastic), roll out the dough into a 20 x 10-inch (about 51 x 25 ½ cm) rectangle. Spread half of the meringue evenly over the rectangle up to about 1/2-inch (3/4 cm) from the edges. Sprinkle half of your filling of choice evenly over the meringue (ex: half of the cinnamon-sugar followed by half the chopped nuts and half of the chocolate chips/chopped chocolate).  Now, roll up the dough jellyroll style, from the long side. Pinch the seam closed to seal. Very carefully transfer the filled log to one of the lined cookie sheets, seam side down. Bring the ends of the log around and seal the ends together, forming a ring, tucking one end into the other and pinching to seal. 

Using kitchen scissors or a sharp knife (although scissors are easier), make cuts along the outside edge at 1-inch (2 ½ cm) intervals. Make them as shallow or as deep as desired but don’t be afraid to cut deep into the ring.  Repeat with the remaining dough, meringue and fillings.  Cover the 2 coffee cakes with plastic wrap and allow them to rise again for 45 to 60 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C).  Bake in the preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes until risen and golden brown. The dough should sound hollow when tapped.


Elle said...

Sounds totally delicious and decadent! Good to know it freezes well too because two of those babies would never get eaten in our small household...but they would make a nice gift wouldn't they?

Lisa said...

Claire, I'm always trying to remind myself to pop by your blog, but I've been sick the past week with bronchitis ( there a doctor in the house? lol), and a month prior, the flu. My little nephew gifts me with all these daycare petri dish ailments..ugh! The price to pay to snuggle

That said, your cake looks awesome. I made an italian meringue because I knew the french would leak easily when rolled, but apparently that turned out to be a good thing with all the crunchy bits. Definitely try cinnamon rolls with meringue instead of butter. The butter always seeps out, whereas the meringue seeps in and holds all the goo :)

The JR said...

You're co-workers are lucky. Looks good.

Aparna Balasubramanian said...

Your wreath looks nice and I think a lot of us, at least I did, had problems with rolling up the dough.

Jaime said...

it's always a pleasant surprise to find something sweet tucked away in the freezer! my meringue oozed out too but it was still wonderfully delicious.

great job!