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Yeasted Meringue Coffee Cake

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 have to admit that I’ve been feeling a little meh about blogging lately.  Mainly it’s that I don’t particularly like to write/am not a great writer which hasn’t stopped me in the past.  As mentioned quite a few times, I’m terribly slow in the kitchen, but sometimes it feels like it takes even longer to write a post.  If I try to make and post something on the same day, it can become an all day affair, so I usually try to post on the next day.  Maybe I need to get ahead of blogging…as in, be a few completed recipes ahead of blog posts.  If that makes sense, do any of you do that?

first rise

Anyway, there’s nothing like a Daring Kitchen challenge to pull me out of a blogging rut.  :)  This month with the Daring Bakers involved yeast and resulted in something that looked suspiciously like Stollen.  The taste and texture was quite different though, especially with the fillings.  Speaking of the fillings, meringue inside bread was totally foreign to me.  Let’s just say I was pleasantly surprised! 

spices and nuts

We were given two versions of fillings to go with the recipe, one from each host.  They both sounded great, but Ria’s was way too intriguing for me to pass up.  Wait, what’s that?  I didn’t come up with my own version this time?  Nope!  The reason: saffron, garam masala, cashews, and chocolate chips.  Yes, please.

meringue!

I really wrestled with the saffron part since it’s so pricey: I’m not even sure if I’ve ever had it, but this was definitely my first time buying it.  Was it worth it?  Unfortunately not for me because I couldn’t taste it at all, but then again I still have a lot of threads left for future baking and cooking endeavors.

innards.

As for the garam masala, I actually think that next time I’ll double it.  That said, when my roommate walked in right after I pulled the cake out of the oven, she thought it was something savory.  “Since I know that’s not meat, is it mushrooms?”  ha!  She later tried some, and with the help of a couple other friends, the scrumptious thing was totally demolished within about 30 hours.  Good work, team.

giant cheerio?
snip, snip.

Indian-inspired Filled Meringue Coffee Cake
halved from Ria’s version

Like I said, I didn’t make any changes to this, but wanted to keep the halved recipe handy and share with others who don’t feel like doing the math.  :)

Yeast coffee cake dough:
2 cups flour
1/8 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/8 teaspoons active dried yeast
3 oz. whole milk 1 oz. water (doesn’t matter what temperature)
1/4 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
1 large egg at room temperature
5 strands saffron

Meringue:
1 1/2 large egg whites at room temperature
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup sugar

Filling:
1/2 cup chopped cashew nuts
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon garam masala
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
Egg wash: 1 beaten egg
Cocoa powder (optional) and confectioner’s sugar (powdered/icing sugar) for dusting cake (I forgot to dust mine!)

In a large mixing bowl, combine 3/4 cup of the flour, the sugar, salt and yeast.

Make the dough: In a saucepan, combine the milk, water and butter and heat over medium heat until warm and the butter is just melted.  Add the 5 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 egg and 1/2 cup 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 3/4 cup 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.  (I cheated and used a mixer with dough hook for this part!)

Place the dough in a lightly greased (I used 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 the 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, 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 sugar, a tablespoon at a time as you beat, until very stiff, glossy peaks form.

Assemble the Coffee Cake: Line 1 baking/cookie sheet with parchment paper.

Punch down the dough.  On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough into a 20 x 10-inch (about 51 x 25 ½ cm) rectangle.  Spread the meringue evenly over the rectangle up to about 1/2-inch (3/4 cm) from the edges.  Sprinkle the following evenly over the meringue: garam masala/sugar mixture, cashews, and chocolate chips.

Now, roll up the dough jellyroll style, from the long side.  Pinch the seam closed to seal.  Very carefully transfer the filled log to the lined cookie sheet, 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.

Cover the coffee cake with plastic wrap and allow to rise again for 45 – 60 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C).

Brush the top of the coffee cake 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.

Remove from the oven and slide the parchment paper off the cookie sheet onto the table.  Very gently loosen the coffee cake from the paper with a large spatula and carefully slide the cake off onto a cooling rack.  Allow to cool.

Just before serving, dust the top of the coffee cake with confectioner’s sugar as well as cocoa powder if using chocolate in the filling.  This is best eaten fresh, the same day or the next day.

Yeasted Meringue Coffee Cake

Overall, I thought this recipe was pretty easy, but did have some problems with rolling up the dough.  Some of the filling oozed out, which made pinching the seam a bit of a challenge!

Yeasted Meringue Coffee Cake

The filling made the bread/cake pretty sticky, but really helped keep it moist.

Yeasted Meringue Coffee Cake

Thanks to Ria and Jamie for this great challenge!  I always love working with yeast, and was really happy with how this new-to-me coffee cake turned out.  For the full (doubled) recipe including Jamie’s version, click here.

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