Cherry Crunch Coffee Cake

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 bubbleSmile

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

Cherry-Crunch-Coffee-Cake-Edit-24 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.

Cherry-Crunch-Coffee-Cake-Edit-4 Cherry-Crunch-Coffee-Cake-Edit-5

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.




Sandra said...

This is so beautiful Amber! What a great way to make this! I love everything about your cake!

Shirley said...

This is gorgeous!! Great idea to bake it as a braid -- reminds me of the danish braid the DB did a couple years ago. And you can't go wrong with cherries, cream cheese, and nuts.

Christina said...

What a beautiful take on this month's challenge recipe!

Pavithra Elangovan said...

Lovely braided coffee cake..looks absolutely beautiful. well done on the challenge.

sara @ CaffeIna said...

Beautiful braiding job! I tried once to make a braided pastry but it didn't come out so pretty! I love your take of this challenge. it was a lot of fun, wasn't it?

Belinda @zomppa said...

This is stunning! A work of art with a delightful surprise inside.

Liz That Skinny Chick Can Bake said...

Gorgeous, Amber!!! I wish I had used your method vs. the lovely (and I know it was delicious!).

All That's Left Are The Crumbs said...

Amber, you have outdone yourself! Your braided loaf looks perfect and delicious. I could eat this any time of the day or night.

Morgan said...

Oh my! It looks beautiful. I love the braiding technique - makes it look like a tasty little strudel!

Buttercream Blondie said...

Your coffee cake looks so pretty! The cherry filling sounds great and your photos are just perfect!

Alina---Explora Cuisine said...

The pictures are so beautiful that it's very hard not to run in the kitchen and make one myself :))

scrambledhenfruit said...

I think your braid is gorgeous, and I love your choice of filling! Spectacular! :)


That is simply stunning! I wish I had the patience for such dishes. I fear the braiding would put me over the edge.

Spoon and Chopsticks said...

Such a great-looking cake. The photos are perfect!

Medeja- CranberryJam said...

This pie looks so delicious.. and especially that cherry filling.

Audax said...

WOW I just love the braid work on your 'Danish' it looks perfect well done on this challenge. Cherry anything is number with me superb work. Nice to hear that yeast is a friend of yours LOL LOL.

Cheers from Audax in Sydney Australia.

Unknown said...

What a beautiful danish. I'm so thrilled that you didn't use chocolate but went with the cream cheese and cherry (and pie filling vs. fresh just works sometimes). The amount of work you put into the braid really shows. It's gorgeous.

Tricia @ Saving room for dessert said...

Absolutely beautiful! I want one :)

Ms. Z. said...

I have to say that your filling sounds so delicious that I think I am going to make this exact coffee cake this coming weekend!

Ms.Z. @

shewhisks said...

Your first try is nothing less than perfect! It looks so danish pastry type, mmmmm....
And I love the pictures on the braiding method, I will definately try this very very soon!!

Natalie said...

this is so stinking beautiful! I need to try a yeasted coffee cake sometime!

Eileen said...

Sweet! I probably would hurt myself if I had to braid a coffee cake. Your's look perfect!

Susi's Kochen und Backen said...

Amber, your coffee cake and especially the braid are almost too perfect to eat. I can't believe this was your first try making a yeast cake, it looks and sounds delicious!

Hanna said...

Hi there! I just stumbled across your blog and I love it so I thought I would introduce myslef. Your recipes look fantastic. I can't wait to dive in further! I blog about food a lot too! Nice meeting you:)


Becky said...

Congratulations on the Top 9 today!

Such a gorgeous coffee cake, almost too pretty to eat. i love the cherry filling.

Elin said...

Congrats !! this is a great coffee cake and beautifully braided ...not surprising this goes to top #3 well done. Love it !

The Harried Cook said...

Gorgeous! Love the way you've braided the dough... congrats on a challenge well done!

And of course, congrats on making Top 9! :)

April @ The 21st Century Housewife said...

This looks beautiful and sounds just mouthwatering. I know how hard it is to braid bread dough - you've done a wonderful job. I love the addition of the meringue!

Kim - Liv Life said...

What a beautiful coffee cake!! Mine have never come out so nicely. Love the filing that you chose, you have some of our favorites in there. I've really enjoyed the DB challenge this month, yeasted cakes are a true treat, add in the meringue and you've got a winner!
Congrats on a well deserved Top 9!!

Kathy said...

I just wanted to say hello ~ I have just stumbled upon your blog, and I wanted to tell you how much I like it! I love your layout and the photos and you've got some scrumptious-looking recipes on here!

kita said...

Love the pics showing how you made the beautiful braided top. Those are really helpful as I was wondering about that while reading this (and other DB posts for the month). Yours looks beautiful!

alyce said...

Beautiful! Looks so yummy.

Bobbie said...

Congrats on the top 9. I had a wonderful time with this challenge!

Kate @ said...

Amber, that coffee cake is GO'DGEOUS! Love the braid, the filling, the entire thing is mouth watering. Great job. Congrats on Top 9... well deserved!

Monet said...

I think this turned out far better than decent. In fact, it looks just beautiful! Thanks for sharing, my dear friend. It feels good to return to the blogs I love after such a hard and trying week. Your words and photographs bring a smile to my face.

Unknown said...

You did a wonderful job. It looks great.

Savoring Italy said...

Amber-you were in Top 9 because this is FABULOUS! I love how you made your cake and I will try to make like you did when I make again. Congrats:)

A little bit of everything said...

this month challenge was so much fun but you turned a simple coffee cake into an elegant braided cake.
Love your choice for the filling.
Thanks for sharing Amber

Mackenzie@The Caramel Cookie said...

That is a beautiful braid! I wish I had some right now to do with my coffee :).

Anonymous said...

This looks amazing! You did a fabulous job braiding the dough. I think I might have to make this for Easter morning! Yummy! :)

Meg Luby said...

this looks perfectly braided and everything! wow, just, wow. this looks seriously great! thanks for sharing, lots of love happening for this and all your posts :)

Brandie said...

I can't believe I missed that this made it into the Top 9!!
It is so beautiful - not to mention it sounds heavenly!!

Magic of Spice said...

That is simply gorgeous!

Brie said...

Hi Amber,

I discovered your blog a couple months ago while searching for a recipe for a yeasted coffee cake. I found so many online that looked yummy,but I was instantly drawn to your recipe because of the beautiful pictures. It didn't hurt that cherry cheese danishes are one of my favourite breakfast pastries. Well, I just wanted to let you know that I made and entered it into a local newspaper baking competition and won third place! One of the prizes for placing in the contest was that the newspaper's food columnist would take your entry to the state fair. Drumroll... It won first place in the Virginia state fair! Thank you for creating a wonderful recipe with easy to follow instructions! The only alterations I made were to eliminate the nuts in the filling and cut down on the meringue. Everything else I followed to the letter! Thanks again, and I will continue to enjoy your blog!

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