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 was really excited when I saw this month’s Daring Bakers challenge. I love making yeast breads. I’m also a big fan of coffee cakes and breakfast treats. In two years of blogging, I have posted three different recipes for cinnamon rolls… Do I need to say more?
I decided to make the coffee cake with half whole wheat pastry flour instead of using all purpose flour for the whole recipe. I like to make things whole wheat… It makes me feel a bit better about indulging on sweet treats! I also made the whole recipe for the dough and froze half of it for another time. Since I only baked one coffee cake, I halved the meringue and filling (well, OK, I think I was a bit heavy handed on the filling).
Unfortunately, despite my high hopes, I wasn’t too thrilled with how it turned out. It certainly wasn’t bad… But, I really didn’t love it, either. Perhaps I made the cuts in the dough too deep, but I didn’t really like the way the meringue filling was spilling out of the coffee cake. Granted, I’m also not really a fan of meringue in general. I also found the overall cake to be a bit dry. Since I did make some substitutions, though, that may have been my fault and not an issue with the original recipe.
I may try the recipe again at some point with a fruit filling instead of the nuts and chocolate that I used this time. I also think that I would enjoy it much more sans meringue. With a few tweaks here and there, I think this could be a recipe that I would make regularly… It’s the perfect dish for a brunch get together!
Here’s the recipe that was provided for the challenge…
Filled Meringue Coffee Cake
(Makes 2 round coffee cakes, each approximately 10 inches in diameter)
For the yeast coffee cake dough:
- 4 cups (600 g / 1.5 lbs.) flour
- 1/4 cup (55 g / 2 oz.) sugar
- 3/4 teaspoon (5 g / 1/4 oz.) salt
- 1 package (2 1/4 teaspoons / 7 g / less than an ounce) active dried yeast
- 3/4 cup (180 ml / 6 fl. oz.) whole milk
- 1/4 cup (60 ml / 2 fl. oz. water (doesn’t matter what temperature)
- 1/2 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
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
- 1/2 cup (110 g / 4 oz.) sugar
For the filling:
- 1 cup (110 g / 4 oz.) chopped pecans or walnuts
- 2 tablespoons (30 g / 1 oz.) granulated sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 cup (170 g / 6 oz.) semisweet chocolate chips or coarsely chopped chocolate
Prepare the dough:
In a large mixing bowl, combine 1 1/2 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.
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 1/2 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 1/2 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 1/2 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 1/2 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.
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.