Before anyone gets confused or misled, this cake is more a bread than a cake, and there ain’t no coffee in it.What’s the deal with it being called ‘Coffee Cake’ then you ask? Apparently it is because this kind of bready cake is a good accompaniment to coffee, and they were originally paired by the Dutch, Germans and Scandanavians. You have your morning mug of steaming latte, or your afternoon cappuccino, and this cake will sit next to it like they were made for each other. Personally, I am more than happy to eat this cake with coffee, tea, milk, water, or just straight up. By itself. Its yummy.
This recipe is the March Daring Baker’s Challenge. 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.
I had a bit of a scare early on with this challenge as I thought that my dough was not rising. I had mad it carefully, according to the instructions, but by about halfway through its rising time, it didn’t look as though it was heading towards doubling in size. This paired with the fact that I managed to drop a whole muffin tin full of (unbaked) cupcakes onto the floor (and in case you’re wondering, they are like buttered toast 0 they fall face down with an almighty splat. Not pretty. Unless you count pretty heartbreaking), had me thinking that the baking gods had abandoned me today.
But I need not have worried. The dough rose to the occasion and all was well. I decided to fill my coffee cake with dried strawberries, a new discovery of mine that I was looking for a use for, and white chocolate and toasted almonds. I managed to construct the cake with no floor-dropping mishaps thanks to the extra set of hands which kindly helped me out, and into the warmth the cake went for its 2nd rising.
Now I don’t know exactly how it is supposed to look, not having made one before, but my cake seemed to rise outwards more than upwards. It spread out on that baking try like I do when I have the bed all to myself. But this is desirable in bed. Its not desirable in cake. I forged ahead, ad I had no choice really, and apart from my ever over zealous oven doing a little too much browning despite my efforts to temper its zeal, it cooked fine and smelled absolutely delicious while in the oven.
After tapping it gingerley when it emerged to make sure that it was done, it was all I could do to hold off attacking it with a big knife and scoffing a huge hunk straight away. But restrain myself I did, and boy it was worth the wait. Moist, sweet but not too sweet, punctuated with strawberry gems and nutty nuggets. Good stuff.
Its a pity that this kind of bread/cake does not keep well. It is bound to the same fate as cinnamon buns and pull-apart breads. Absolutely to die for soft and tender on the day of baking, but a harder, drier, shadow of its former self the day after. The day after that, don’t even bother. Oh well, means I have to eat more today 🙂
I do have another batch of this dough in the freezer, and after browsing what the hugely talented and creative Daring Bakers have been doing with their coffee cake creations, I have a few ideas for it. Maybe savoury, maybe sweet, depends how my taste buds feel on the day of defrosting. I am looking forward to it already. Thank you to Ria and Jamie for a lovely challenge, and looking forward to next month’s which I believe has a twist to it. Awesome 🙂
FILLED MERINGUE COFFEE CAKE
Makes 2 round coffee cakes, each approximately 10 inches in diameter?The recipe can easily be halved to make one round coffee cake
Ingredients?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
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
For the filling:
1 cup chopped white chocolate/white chocolate chips
½ cup dried strawberries, roughly chopped
¾ cup toasted pecans & almonds
In a small pan on medium heat, roast each spice individually (it hardly takes a minute) until you get a nice aroma. Make sure you stir it throughout so that it doesn’t burn. As soon as each spice is roasted, transfer it to a bowl to cool slightly. Once they are all roasted, grind into a fine powder by using a coffee grinder, or pestle & mortar. Store in an airtight container and use as needed.
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. Ria’s version: add the 10 saffron threads to the warmed liquid and allow to steep off of the heat for 10 minutes. This will give the mixture a distinct aroma and flavor and a yellowish-orange hue.
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:
Line 2 baking/cookie sheets with parchment paper.
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).
Brush the tops of the coffee cakes with the egg wash. Bake in the preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes until risen and golden brown. The dough should sound hollow when tapped.