Monday, April 4, 2011

Yeasted Meringue Coffee Cake

I've been a part of the Daring Bakers for a while now, but since we've been bouncing around the world, I haven't had a chance to participate...yet. The March 2011 Daring Bakers' 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 obviously really late posting this but enjoyed making the cake. I was worried about how it would turn out, since it was pretty technical but we were all very pleased with the results and had our fair share before sending it to school with David's mom to share with the other teachers.

It didn't turn out as pretty as some of the others I've seen but that's not too important - the whole point is to eat it anyways! 

The recipe was definitely worth the effort and could be adjusted to use just about any ingredients or flavors you want. I used Jamie's version (below) but would like to try a savory filling next time - maybe with pizza-like ingredients and Italian seasoning in the dough.

The recipe below makes 2 round coffee cakes, each approximately 10 inches in diameter. I havlved it to make1 cake, but if you are doing all the work, you may as well make 2!

Filled Meringue Coffee Cake
For the Dough:
4 cups flour
1/4 cup sugar
3/4 tsp salt
1 package active dried yeast
3/4 cup whole milk *I used 2% without any problems
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup butter, at room temperature
2 large eggs, at room temperature

For the Meringue:
3 large egg whites, at room temperature
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup sugar

For the Filling:
1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
2 tbsp granulated sugar
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips or coarsely chopped chocolate

In a large mixing bowl, combine 1 1/2 cups of the flour, the sugar, salt and yeast.

In a saucepan, combine the milk, water and butter and heat over medium until warm. 

With an electric mixer on low speed, gradually add the warm liquid to the flour/yeast mixture, beating until just 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 and knead the dough for 8-10 minutes, or until it 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 towl and let rise until doubled in bulk, 45-60 minutes.

Prepare the filling. In a smal bowl, combine the cinnamon and sugar. 

Once the dough has doubled, make the meringue:
In a clean mixing bowl (ideally plastic or metal), 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 of sugar, 1 tbsp at a time, until very stiff, glossy peaks form.

Assemble the coffee cakes:
Line 2 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, roll out into a 20 x 10-inch rectangle. Spread half of the meringue evenly over the rectangle. Sprinkle half of the filling over the dough.

Roll 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.

Use kitchen shears or a sharp knife, make cuts along the outside edge at 1-inch intervals. Repeat with the remaining dough, meringue and fillings.

Cover the 2 coffee cakes with plastic wrap and allow them to rise again for 45-60 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350.

Brush the tops of the coffee cakes with the egg wash. Bake in the preheated oven for 25-30 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 and cocoa powder, if desired.


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