Sunday, March 27, 2011

Daring Bakers' Challenge: Yeasted Meringue Coffee Cake

I had to make this challenge early, because guess what? I'm going on another little trip. Yup, it was a spur-of-the-moment thing, as one of my friends asked me if I wanted to go with her to Las Vegas. After my trip to London, I realized that these little getaways were just what I needed to stay refreshed and not feel completely over-worked... so I said yes, and now I'm packing for the flight that leaves on the 27th. Vegas for 5 days!! WOHOO!! But now, on to the recipe.

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.

Filled Meringue Coffee Cake

For the yeast coffee cake dough:

- 4 cups flour
- ¼ cup sugar
- ¾ tsp salt
- 1 package (2 ¼ tsp) active dried yeast
- ¾ cup whole milk
- ¼ cup water
- ½ cup unsalted butter, room temperature
- 2 large eggs, room temperature

For the filling:

- 1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
- 2 tbsp granulated sugar
- ¼ tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 cup coarsely chopped chocolate

For the meringue:

- 3 large egg whites, room temperature
- ¼ tsp salt
- ½ tsp vanilla
- ½ cup sugar


Prepare the dough:

1. In a large 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 butter is just melted.

3. 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.

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 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.

5. 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 mins.

Prepare your filling:

1. In a small bowl, combine the cinnamon and sugar for the filling if using. You can add chopped nuts to this if you like, but I find it easier to sprinkle on both the nuts and the chocolate separately.

Make the meringue:
1. Do this once the dough has doubled. In a clean mixing bowl 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:

1. Line 2 baking/cookie sheets with parchment paper.

2. 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 (ex: half of the cinnamon-sugar followed by half the chopped nuts and half of the chocolate chips/chopped chocolate).

3. 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.

4. Using kitchen scissors, make cuts along the outside edge at 1-inchintervals. Make them as shallow or as deep as desired but don’t be afraid to cut deep into the ring.

5. Repeat with the remaining dough, meringue and fillings.

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

7. Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C).

8. 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.

9. 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.

10. 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.

This recipe is definitely a winner! It was ooey-gooey, chocolatey and moist. I have a serious addiction to bread, and since this recipe allowed for me to practice baking with yeast and improve my bread making skills I was very happy to whip this up. All in all, this Daring Bakers' Challenge was pretty easy to complete, and a perfect light snack for tea.