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Sunday, March 27, 2011

Daring Bakers - Meringue Filled 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 am not one to jump right into the challenge recipe at the beginning of the month. I usually like to read the challenge over a few times, let it ruminate in my brain, pondering technique and flavors. However, since our family is trying to limit our sugar intake I thought that I would combine the challenge with another special date this month . . . my husband’s birthday which happens to fall early in the month.

Since Christmas, he has been asking for me to make the cinnamon rolls I made Christmas morning. I had planned to make them for his birthday breakfast so I begged and pleaded with him to let me make this coffee cake instead since they sounded fairly similar. He reluctantly agreed, offering to make a deal that if they were not as good I would still make the cinnamon rolls sometime this month. In my counter offer I asked who was to be the judge of whether they were equal. He stated he would try to be as unbiased as possible. Yah right, unbiased, my foot!


There were a few steps to this challenge but not any more so than a cinnamon roll or another sweet yeast bread recipe. It involved making the dough, letting it rise, kneading the dough, spreading it with meringue and adding filling, rolling it up, letting it rise again, and then baking it. Of course, there is a bit more to it than that but those are the steps in a nutshell.


The dough recipe made two braided wreath coffee cakes and while I seriously debated just doing one I decided that I would make two because in the end I wanted one that had the same cinnamon roll filling (for equal comparison) and then one that had chocolate in it.

Of the many times I’ve made yeast breads this was the first time of ever melting the butter mixture, adding the yeast to the dry flour and then adding a somewhat cooled butter mixture to the dry flour and yeast. 

 

Have I ever mentioned before how much I love kneading dough? I love it! Nothing makes me feel like a baker more than kneading soft dough after it is warm and has risen a first time! This particular dough didn’t require a lot of work to get it to the smooth, elastic stage so it was really nice to work with.

 
 
I don’t work with meringue often. I have really only made it a handful of times so I was a little more anxious to have this turn out correctly. It seemed to turn out fine. Nice stiff peaks and easy to spread on the dough.


Besides the coffee cakes looking like molten lava when they came out of the oven they tasted great! I thought the cinnamon/sugar filling was going to be way too sweet but it wasn’t too over the top. I think I did prefer the chocolate filling though but that might be because I really like chocolate. The one thing I forgot to do on both, and I’m not sure why, was to brush the egg wash on after baking. It didn’t really matter in the end because I sprinkled powdered sugar or cocoa powder over the finished product.


As for the unbiased ruling from the judge, it really wasn’t unbiased. He enthusiastically enjoyed both coffee cakes and then pronounced that I would have to make the cinnamon rolls in the end so that he could make an accurate comparison. Hmmm, kind of thought that was going to happen. 

Meringue Filled Coffee Cake

Yeast Coffee Cake:
4 cups flour
¼ cup sugar
¾ teaspoon salt
1 package active dried yeast
¾ cup whole milk
¼ cup water
½ cup unsalted butter, room temperature
2 large eggs, room temperature

Meringue:
3 large egg whites, room temperature
¼ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon vanilla
½ cup sugar

Filling:
1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips or coarsely chopped chocolate

Egg wash: 1 beaten egg
Cocoa powder (optional) and confectioner’s sugar (powdered/icing sugar) for dusting cakes


Prepare the dough:
In a large mixing bowl, combine 1 ½ cups 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 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 and elastic, keeping the work surface floured and adding extra flour as needed.

Place the dough in a lightly greased 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.

Prepare your filling:
In a small bowl, combine the cinnamon and sugar for the filling. 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 rectangle. Spread half of the meringue evenly over the rectangle up to about 1/2-inch from the edges. Sprinkle half of your filling of choice evenly over the meringue.


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, make cuts along the outside edge at 1-inch 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.

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.

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 as well as cocoa powder if using chocolate in the filling. These are best eaten fresh, the same day or the next day.
 
Makes 2 round coffee cakes, each approximately 10 inches in diameter. The recipe can easily be halved to make one round coffee cake.

17 comments:

shelley c.

Those both look great! I forgot to brush egg wash on mine, too, but I don't feel like anything was missing, so no worries. :) And I love that your husband, in the true spirit of competition, needed to have the cinnamon rolls, too. LOL. You did an awesome job on this. Happy birthday to your husband and congratulations on a challenge very well done!!

Vivian - Let's Try These...

Great job! I like the idea of using the cinnamon roll filling... sounds positively drool worthy!

Jeanne

They look fabulous! I bet the cinnamon roll filling was just heavenly with this dough - so soft and fluffy!

Renata

They look great and both fillings are winners! Happy birthday to your husband and congrats to you for the wonderful coffee cakes

Swathi

Belated birthday wishes to your husband. This coffee cake has awesome filling. You did wonderful job.

freshcreations

Thanks for your warm welcome!
Your coffee cake looks delicious. I didn't brush mine either with the egg wash; they may not turn out as glossy, but they sure taste good. And with a bit of icing sugar, who is to know?

Namratha

Hehe, he had to ask for cinnamon rolls in the end..! :) Your cakes turned out great and the cinnamon filling must have been delicious. Belated wishes to your hubby!

Jessica

Great job! I remembered the egg wash, but forgot the dusting of powdered sugar, so we're even. ;) Happy Birthday to your husband!

Suzanne

looks good, I was so glad it was a fairly easy challenge this month. I wonder what is in store for next month.

Rosa's Yummy Yums

Your coffee cake is beautiful! Well done.

Cheers,

Rosa

Tadeja

Despite the molten lava cakes really looks delicious! :)

Jamie

What a funny husband and I think I would ask for cinnamon rolls, too, just for the heck of it! Your cakes look great and sound delicious! My favorite fillings, too. Sad about the exploding one, though... so happy everyone enjoyed the cakes. And yes, this is a wonderful dough to work with! Happy Birthday to your man, too!

Sheena

Cinnamon would definitely be a lovely flavour inside the cake, and it's good to hear they tasted great despite the 'molten lava'. I'm not sure why that happens for some and not for others. Happy birthday to your husband! :)

Urvashee@Dessarts

The cinnamon roll filling sounds delicious. I'm a chocolate gal too though. I also forgot to brush with egg wash but it really just adds shine and preservation to the product. Of course, something this delicious gets devoured so quickly it needs no preservation!

GourmAndrea

Looks delicious! I like the birthday bartering, so funny.

Elsa

I also found that this challenge resembled cinnamon rolls! I like how you took pictures at every step of the process! Looks great! And thanks for stopping by my blog :)

Delishhh

Just gorgeous!! Very nice work. I loved this challenge and seeing all the different version.