March 27, 2011
The March 2011 Daring Baker’s Challenge was hostedby 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 lot of fun with the challenge this month, since I’ve never made a yeasted coffee cake before. While, some people are afraid of working with yeast, it has always held a certain form of fascination for me.
Perhaps, being the granddaughter of a baker, I’ve been bitten by the bug. More likely, the kid in me just likes sticking my hands in a big ball of sticky goo.
I also wanted to try my hand at practicing some pastry making technique’s, and decided to form the dough into a braided coffee cake. While it may look tricky, it is really simple, and just takes a little practice to get the form even.
My first try at this style isn’t perfect, but it turned out fairly decent – at least in my opinion. If you think otherwise – please don’t burst my bubble
Part of this challenge was to use your own creativity for the filling, and while I had many crazy ideas swirling around in the gray matter of my brain, I decided on a cherry and cream cheese filled treat. While I wanted to use fresh cherries, I had to settle on cherry pie filling, since I couldn't find any fresh ones locally. It turned out pretty tasty anyway!
Cherry Crunch Coffee Cake
(prep: 3 hours: bake: 30 min; yield: two coffee cakes)
Note: This recipe can be easily halved to make one coffee cake (which I did).
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:
8-oz cream cheese, softened
3 tbsp butter, softened
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 can cherry pie filling
1 cup chopped nuts (walnuts or pecans)
For the glaze:
1 cup powdered sugar
1 tbsp butter
2 tbsp milk
1 tsp almond extract
Prepare the dough:
1. In a large electric mixing bowl, combine 1 ½ cups (230 g) of the flour, the sugar, salt and yeast.
2. In a saucepan, combine the milk, water and butter and heat over medium heat until warm and the butter is just melted.
3. With the 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.
4. 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, and elastic, keeping the work surface floured and adding extra flour as needed.
5. 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 an electric mixer, combine the cream cheese, butter, powdered sugar and vanilla until creamy. Set aside.
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 sheets with parchment paper.
1. 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 14 x 12-inch rectangle.
2. Using a pizza cutter or knife, lightly score the rectangle into thirds lengthways. Now make diagonal slices, to make strips on the two outer thirds sections, about every 1/2 inch. Carefully cut away the top strips on the top and bottom.
3. Spread half of the meringue evenly over the center third (the section between the strips you just cut). Spread some of the cream cheese mixture over the meringue. Now spread a layer of the cherry pie filling. Sprinkle some nuts over everything.
4. Now fold down the top and bottom flap, then start folding the side strips over the filling. Right, then left, right again, etc, all the way to the bottom.
5. Repeat with the remaining dough, meringue and fillings.
6. Slip your hands under the pastry, and carefully transfer it to the lined baking sheet. 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.
7. 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.
8.Remove from the oven and slide the parchment paper off the cookie sheets onto the table. Very gently loosen the coffee cakes from the paper with a large spatula and carefully slide the cakes off onto cooling racks. Allow to cool.
Just before serving, dust the tops of the coffee cakes with confectioner’s sugar, or drizzle with almond glaze. These are best eaten fresh, the same day or the next day.