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So I’m looking through a baking book the other day trying to find inspiration that will satisfy my need to bake something. I came across Lemon Brioche Doughnuts and thought “Perfect!”, but then suddenly remembered that I hadn’t checked yet  to see what was up for March from  the  Bread Baking Babes. Well. after finding out that  Lien was the host I was more than thrilled to see that she chose “Gateau a la creme” which is yummy brioche with a lemon custard filling. Talk about perfect timing. I was looking forward to making brioche since there hadn’t been any made since Christmas time. Buttery brioche baked in small pannetone papers are perfect gifts for people since they freeze beautifully and you can pull out one at a time without being tempted to eat an entire loaf of bread by yourself. Now it is March and it seems like a perfect time for brioche and this gateau is luscious and would be perfect for a Spring brunch (now all we need here in Calgary is Spring (as I look out at the snow on my lawn)).BBBuddies march 2013

After reading Lien’s recipe I was a little concerned about the small amount of eggs and butter (for brioche that is) but then when I started looking through my baking books I realized that there seems to be many variations on the quantity of these items.  One book uses 4 1/4 Cups of flour to 3 eggs, while another uses 4 1/2 Cups of flour and 6 eggs. Some recipes call for all  ingredients to be very cold, others for room temperature. Normally, I follow Peter Reinhardt’s recipe but now I think that in my near future a brioche bake-off is called for. The recipe Lien used has a relatively short kneading time, while it was my thought pattern that brioche (as well as panettone and stollen) needed a long kneading to fully develop the gluten structure so you get the “windowpane” effect. What was also interesting was that this version only called for the dough to chill in the fridge for about an hour and then you are ready to work with it, usually it chills overnight. Ahhh, the very perplexing world of enriched doughs….DSC_2421

In the end, I used Ciril Hitz’ version, and only because I wanted to put some dough into the freezer for later in the week (those doughnuts, remember?). His version actually has fewer eggs than the Raymond Blanc recipe – again, the mystery of it all – but it is so lovely to work with and to eat. A few people commented that Raymond’s recipe was a little dry so I went with this version to be on the safe side. It has a long chilling period, 6 hours in the freezer then 12 in the refrigerator, but it is really easy to make and patience is the only thing needed. Oh, and a standing mixer with a dough hook. At least for me. I was more than impressed to read that some of the BBB’s were kneading this by hand (I would never want to be cornered by one of them in a dark alley – arms of steel!), but in my opinion this is one of those doughs that a standing mixer is crucial. My Kitchenaid is over 20 years old and still works like a dream!

The filling is super simple to put together. It calls for 6 egg yolks (this is a good time to think about making macarons since you will have all those whites leftover), lemon juice, a little sugar and creme fraiche. Easy except I didn’t have any creme fraiche nor any heavy cream to make any, so I made mine with marscapone cheese. Yes, this is over the top indulgence, but boy did it work nicely. I only had 5 eggs left since I needed one for the egg wash so that would have to do (and it worked out fine). I found there was a little too much filling for the two small (about 7 inches around) brioche I made and I also filled one up too high which in turn made a burnt mess in my oven.

The seal of approval!

The seal of approval!

Would I recommend this? Yes. Was it easy? with a mixer, Yes.  Was is delicious? Totally, without being too sweet. (maybe I’ll have another piece right now just to make sure…) Bake On!

Please go to Liens post for the original recipe.

Gateau a la Creme

Brioche dough

yields four 7-inch gateau’s (or freeze half of the dough for up to 2 weeks for another use)

4 1/4 Cups (530g) All-purpose flourDSC_2401
1/4 Cup (50g) granulated sugar
4 tsp (14g) instant yeast (I used SAF Gold)
1 1/2 tsp (8g) salt
zest of 1 meyer lemon (use a regular lemon if you don’t have a meyer)
3/4 C (7 oz) whole milk
14 Tablespoons (200g) unsalted butter
1 whole egg
2 egg yolks

finishing:
Egg wash (1 yolk,as needed – I double washed so I used almost the whole thing)
swedish pearl sugar (decoration, as needed- optional)

Crème filling

5 egg yolks
1/4 Cup + 2 teaspoons (60g) granulated sugar
1 meyer lemon, juice and zest (I also threw in the juice leftover from the zested lemon needed for the dough)
200 G marscapone cheese

Make sure that the milk, eggs, and butter are cold.

Place all of the ingredients, except the butter,into the bowl of your standing mixer. Mix at low-speed until it all comes together, form a solid mass, and cleans the sides of the bowl (about 5 minutes). While this is mixing, pound your butter with a rolling-pin to make it pliable. You are not warming up the butter, just making it easier to blend. Break it up into 4 or 5 pieces.  Alternately, you can cut the cold butter up into tiny cubes.DSC_2403

Increase the speed on your mixer to medium and start adding the butter, slowly and in stages (4 0r 5). Make sure that all of the butter is fully mixed in before adding the next batch of butter. Continue to mix until all of the butter is fully incorporated into the dough and you get a good gluten structure. This will take 10 to 20 minutes. You want to be able to stretch the dough thin enough to see through (the “windowpane”) without tearing the dough. Form the dough into a ball, wrap with plastic wrap and place in the freezer for at least 6 hours, or up to 2 weeks. I cut my dough in half so I would have 2 pieces – I used one and the other is still in the freezer.

The day before baking remove the dough from the freezer and transfer to the refrigerator for 12 hours.

When ready to bake remove the dough from the fridge and let it sit out for 20-30 minutes at room temperature. Cut the dough in half..Take half of the brioche dough and bring it together with the palms of your hands to form a ball, then place it on a parchment lined baking tray and flatten it slightly. Starting from the middle of the dough, gently press the dough flat and spread it out to form a circle to approx 7 inches  in diameter, but leave about a 1 inch gap from the edge as this will create the rim of the tart. DSC_2404

Be careful not to stretch the dough and try to keep the base even in thickness. Use the second half of the dough for another gateau. I made the error on one of mine by making the rim too thin and then pouring in too much filling which of course made a mess in the oven….

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Cover these with greased plastic and a kitchen towel and let rest for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, pre-heat your oven to 350F

For the crème filling, mix the egg yolks, sugar, lemon zest and juice together in a mixing bowl and gradually mix in the marscapone cheese. Set aside  until ready to fill.

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When you are ready to bake, brush the rims of your bread with the egg wash and sprinkle with the pearl sugar , if using. Pour some of the creme mixture into the middle about 1/3 way up. Pour the rest in (about 3/4 way up) when you have it in the oven so you don’t spill it all over when transferring it. Bake for 25 minutes or until golden and the filling is set. Cool completely, or serve slightly warm. Enjoy!

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The January Daring Bakers challenge was hosted by Francijn from Koken in de Brouwerij (cooking in the brewery), all the way the Netherlands. She chose a traditional Dutch treat called Gevulde Speculaas (which I am told translates to stuffed spice). The speculaas is a spice blend (you know how cookie butter is all the rage? that is speculaas spice you are drooling over) that is unique like curry powder – every one can be different depending on who’s making it. Cinnamon is the major player here but the team consists of many including, nutmeg, ginger, mace, cardamom, white pepper, anise, clove, coriander… you get the picture. It’s warm, spicy and mellow all at the same time.  Anyway, the dough for this cake is infused with the heady mixture and then it is stuffed with almond paste. Seriously, doesn’t just the thought of almond paste get you salivating?DSC_1928  Overall, this was fun and easy to make. Wait, I take that back. I have been making my own almond paste exclusively for many years now  and almost always have some in the freezer.(Funny sidenote: I actually put 2 pounds of almond paste in my suitcase to bring to my mothers in New York just this past December!) It can seem scary at first but if you own a food processor than you too can make almond paste. This will be the hardest part of this recipe and it’s not hard at all!! Oh, I forgot to mention how cheap it is compared to store-bought. Once you make it yourself I doubt that you will ever buy store-bought after that . It is never quite as smooth as store-bought but unless you are modelling with it you won’t notice the difference and the flavor is so much better. One more thing on making almond paste – you must use blanched almonds = almonds without the skin on. There are two ways to go about this; boil up a pot of water and then add a few cups of almonds. Let them boil 3 or 4  minutes then drain. Once cool enough to handle, the skins will slide off easily. Then you need to let the almonds thoroughly (like for a few days) OR, you can be really lazy like me and buy the big giant bag of blanched, sliced almonds sold at Costco. These take virtually no time at all to process down to a fine powder. You do what works best for you. Believe I have skinned many pounds of almonds in my time.

Okay, so there are three elements to this challenge: mixing up some speculaas spice, making almond paste, and preparing the dough. The almond paste and the dough can be prepared a few days in advance if you like (this really gives the spices a chance to develop), but you can also whip this up in a jiffy as well. Bake On!

Speculaas Spice blend

This is the blend I made up but please feel free to make up your own. All spices are ground before starting

8 teaspoons cinnamonDSC_1937
2 teaspoons nutmeg
2 teaspoons dried ginger
1 teaspoon cardamom
1 teaspoon clove
1 teaspoon anise seed
1 teaspoon white pepper
1 teaspoon coriander

mix everything together and store in an airtight container.

Almond Paste

Francijns recipe: (I actually used this one for the cake so as to stay true to her recipe)

7/8 cup (210 ml)(125 gm)(4½ oz) raw almonds (or 1-1/3 cups (320 ml)(125 gm) (4½ oz) ground almonds)
5/8 cup (150 ml) (125 grams) (4½ oz) granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon (5 ml) (3 gm) lemon zest

Grind the almonds for one or two minutes in a food processor, until you see nothing but very small pieces. (Or skip this step if you use ground almonds.)
Add the sugar, and grind for another one or two minutes. It must be very fine after this step.
Add the egg and let the food processor combine it – if it is powerful enough. Otherwise you will have to combine it with your fingers.

My usual recipe:

1  cup blanched almondsDSC_1922
1 cup confectioners (powdered sugar)
3 Tablespoons light corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon rose-water
dash almond extract

Place the almonds and a few tablespoons of the sugar in the bowl of a large food processor and whirl until it is a fine powder. Add the remaining sugar and start the machine. Add the rose-water and extract. Drizzle in the light corn syrup until it comes together and forms a smooth ball.

You can store this in thee fridge for a few weeks or months in the freezer.

I use a scale to measure out equal parts blanched almonds and confectioners (powdered) sugar so I can make large or small amounts. I tend to eyeball the light corn syrup and add little by little until I get the consistency I want. (I told you this was easy…)

Dough

1 ¾ cups (250 gm) (9 oz) all-purpose (plain) flourDSC_1923
1 teaspoon (5 ml) (5 gm) baking powder
¾ cup (150 grams) (5-1/3 oz) brown sugar, firmly packed
a pinch salt
2 tablespoons (30 ml) (15 gm) (½ oz) speculaas spices
3/4 cup (1½ stick) (175 gm) (6 oz) unsalted butter, softened

Put flour, baking powder, sugar, salt and spices in a bowl. Cut the butter in dices and add. Knead until smooth. Feel free to add a little milk if the dough is too dry. Wrap in plastic wrap and put in the refrigerator for two hours. I used my standing mixer to do this and I did need to add a little less than 1/4 cup of milk to my dough. I then let it sit in the fridge overnight.

You can choose to make the dough a few days in advance, just like the almond paste, that will benefit the flavor.

Assembling and baking the Gevulde Speculaas

Ingredients: speculaas dough, almond paste, 1 large egg, and blanched almonds for decorating (optional)

shallow baking pan, 8×10 inch (20×26 cm) or, round with of diameter 10 inch (26 cm)

Grease the pan. Preheat the oven to  350°F/180°C/gas 4

Divide the dough into two portions.

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Roll out both portions on a lightly floured surface, until they are exactly the same size as the baking pan. Put one of the layers in the pan and press it lightly to fill the bottom.

Lightly beat the egg with a teaspoon cold water and brush  1/3 of the egg over the dough in the pan.

Roll out the almond paste between two sheets of parchment, until it is exactly as big as the pan, and put it on the dough in the pan. (If you chose to make the paste soft, you can smear the paste instead of rolling it.) Press the paste lightly down to fit in the pan, and brush the next 1/3 of the egg over it. Place  the second layer of dough on top of the paste, press it lightly, and make as smooth as possible. Brush the last 1/3 of the egg over the dough. and decorate the pastry with the almonds, if you like. I sprinkled swedish pearl sugar down the center of my large one with just a few almonds slices down the sides. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool completely. Enjoy!

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Since December is already a crazy busy baking month, why not throw a delicious yeasted cake into the mix?! The December host of the Bread Baking Babes is Gretchen of Provecho Peru. She chose the lovely and easy German cake Apple Kutchen. It is perfect for this time of year and a breeze to put together. Being a good little baking buddy (well, I am trying to be at least) I firmly put my mind to baking this and not flaking off like last month. Since I didn’t have any apples on had I used some dried pears that I had. I first soaked them overnight in Amaretto and then rehydrated them in pear-cinnamon cider, finally giving them a rough dice. I also had some cranberries in the freezer (thank you Noelle for the idea) and last but not least, some finely diced crystallized ginger. It smelled heavenly coming out of the oven and now my mother has the perfect treat to bring with her to church on tomorrow morning. I was a little worried about how dark my crust was but when tried it I was happy that it was still very soft and moist. Easy and delicious. Bake on!

Holiday Apple  Pear Kutchen 
 

Yield: 12 servings

Source: Adapted from BH&G Holiday Baking 2009 Magazine

Ingredients

Crumb Topping

1/2 cup flour

1/4 cup quick oatmeal (I used Quaker)

3/4 cup brown sugar

5 tablespoons butter

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon cardamom

1/4 teaspoon allspice

Kuchen

2 1/4 – 2 3/4 cups flour,divided

1 package (2 1/4 tsp)active dry yeast (I used 2 teaspoon SAF gold yeast)
1/2 cup milk (I used lowfat)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup butter
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 eggs

Dried Pear topping

2 cups reconstituted dried pears, roughly diced

1/3 cup fresh or frozen cranberries (I tossed mine in a small bit of egg whites then some sugar so as to not be so tart)

2 Tablespoons crystallized ginger, finely diced

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*If you want to make it Apple Kutchen, use this for the fruit topping instead:

4 cups apple slices (about 4 medium baking apples)

1/3 cup brown sugar

1 tablespoon quick cooking tapioca

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 teaspoon apple pie spice

CRUMB TOPPING:

In a medium bowl, combine flour and brown sugar. Using a pastry blender, cut in butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Set aside.

CAKE:

Grease a 13x9x2 baking pan; set aside.

In a large bowl, combine 1 cup of the flour and the yeast; set aside.

In a small saucepan, heat and stir milk, granulated sugar, butter and salt just until mixture is warm (120F-130F) and butter almost melts. Add milk mixture and eggs to flour mixture. Beat with an electric mixer on low to medium speed for 30 seconds, scraping sides of the bowl constantly. Beat on high-speed for 2 minutes or until smooth. Beat in as much of the remaining flour as you can without the mixer. Stir in any remaining flour to make a stiff batter.

Spread batter into the prepared baking pan. Evenly spread the pears over the top of the batter then sprinkle the cranberries over them and finally the ginger. Crumble the topping over the fruit mixture.

Cover and let rise in a warm place for 1 hour.

 (for apple topping combine apples, brown sugar, tapioca, lemon juice and apple pie spice. Place apple mixture on top of the batter. Sprinkle with Crumb Topping. )

Bake in a preheated 375F oven for 30 minutes or until top is browned and apples are tender. Cool on a wire rack for 30 minutes.

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BBBuddies Dec 12

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This month’s Bakers Challenge was hosted by Jason at Dailycandor.com. He introduced us to two very interesting and delicious Armenian desserts : Nazook (or nazuk, nazouk) and scented nutmeg cake. Both are winners.

Nazook is a rolled sweet pastry cookie which I thought was very similar to rugelach but the dough is made with yeast and sour cream. The dough is quite simple in fact, just flour, yeast, sour cream and butter. The fact that  there is no sugar is really nice and offsets the sweet filling. The traditional way is a vanilla filling but I also made a fig version and a cinnamon walnut version. I think this is one recipe that is hands down best the traditional way. While all three were incredibaly delicious (and not too sweet), the vanilla the stellar. If you have vanilla beans, this is the time to break them out. I used both vanilla bean seeds and pure vanilla extract for a double vanilla flavor. Pure heaven.

Nazook

Pastry dough

3 cups (720 ml) (420 gm/15 oz) all-purpose (plain) flour, sifted
2½ teaspoons (12½ ml) (7 gm) (¼ oz) (1 packet) active dry yeast
1 cup (240 ml) (225 gm/8 oz) sour cream
1 cup (2 sticks) (240 ml) (225 gm/8 oz) softened butter (room temperature)

Filling

1 1/2 cups (360 ml) (210 gm) (7½ oz) all-purpose (plain) flour, sifted
1 1/2 cups (360 ml) (340 gm/12 oz) sugar
3/4 cup (1½ sticks) (180 ml) (170 gm/6 oz) softened butter (room temperature)
seeds from 1 vanilla bean, scraped
2 teaspoons (10 ml) pure vanilla extract
Wash
1-2 egg yolks

Directions:

Make the Pastry Dough

Place the sifted flour into a large bowl. Add the dry yeast, and mix well. Add the sour cream and softened butter.
Use your hands, or a standing mixer with a paddle attachment, to work it into a dough. If using a standing mixer, switch to a dough hook. If making manually, continue to knead for about 10 minutes, or until the dough no longer sticks to the bowl or your hands. If it remains very sticky, add some flour, a little at a time.
Cover the dough and refrigerate for 3-5 hours, or overnight if you like.

Make the filling

 Mix the flour, sugar, and the butter in a medium bowl. Add the seeds from a scraped vanilla bean  (if using) and  vanilla extract. Mix the filling until it looks like clumpy, damp sand. It should not take long. Set aside.

Make the nazook

 Preheat the oven to moderate 350°F/175°C/gas mark 4.

 Cut the refrigerated dough into quarters. Form one of the quarters into a ball. Dust your working surface with a little flour. Roll out the dough into a large rectangle or oval. The dough should be thin, but not transparent.Spread 1/4 of the filling mixture across the rolled-out dough in an even layer. Try to spread the filling as close as possible to the edges on the short sides, but keep some of pastry dough uncovered (1 inch/2.5 cm) along the long edges. From one of the long sides, start slowly rolling the dough across. Be careful to make sure the filling stays evenly distributed. Roll all the way across until you have a long, thin loaf.Pat down the loaf with your palm and fingers so that it flattens out a bit (just a bit).

 Apply your egg yolk wash with a pastry brush.

Use a crinkle cutter (I used a serrated bread  knife) to cut the loaf into 10 equally sized pieces. Put onto an ungreased cookie sheet.Place in a preheated moderate oven for about 30 minutes, until the tops are a rich, golden brown. Cool and then try not to eat all of them!

 Next up…

Armenian Nutmeg Cake

1 cup (240 ml) milk
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups (480 ml) (280 gm/10 oz) all-purpose (plain) flour (I used pastry flour)
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 cups (480 ml) (400 gm/14 oz) brown sugar, firmly packed (I used demerara sugar)
3/4 cup (1½ sticks) (180 ml) (170 gm/6 oz) unsalted butter, cubed
1/2 cup (120 ml) (55 gm/2 oz) walnut pieces
1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground nutmeg
1 egg

Preheat your oven to 350°F/175°C/gas mark 4.

Mix the baking soda (not baking powder; that’s for the next step) into the milk. Set it aside. Sift together the flour and the baking powder into a large bowl.Add the brown sugar and mix together.Cut the butter with a fork into the dry ingredients (you can use your food processor like I did). You’ll want to achieve a more-or-less uniform, tan-colored crumbly mixture.

Take HALF of this resulting crumbly mixture into your springform (9”/23cm) pan. Press a crust out of it using your fingers and knuckles. It will be easy.Crack an egg into a mixer or bowl and add the nutmeg .

Start mixing slowly with a whisk attachment and then increase to medium speed, or mix with a hand whisk if you’re doing it manually (or process for 60 seconds). Once it’s mixed well and frothy, pour in the milk and baking soda mixture. Continue to mix until uniform. Pour in the rest of the crumbly mixture. Mix well until thoroughly combined and fluid.Pour the batter over the base in the springform pan and sprinkle the walnut pieces over the batter.

Bake in a preheated moderate oven for about 30-40 minutes. You’ll know it’s done when the top is a golden brown, and an inserted toothpick comes out clean.

Allow to cool in the pan,release and enjoy!

freezing/Storage Instructions/Tips: Nazook will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for a couple of weeks, and the Armenian nutmeg cake will keep (covered) at room temperature for 2-3 days. Both taste even better still warm from the oven.

Allow to cool completely before attempting to freeze. Nazook will freeze best if put in a freezer bag with all the air squeezed out. Armenian Nutmeg Cake will also freeze fairly well if completely sealed. Both can be frozen for up to 3 months.
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Well, the time has finally arrived. School. Kindergarten, that is. It’s sounds so cliché, but really, where did the time go? With out a doubt, the fastest (and best) five years of my life. We made it through the first week, and for us, the hard part wasn’t school itself, but getting up at 7am everyday. You see, we are a family of late risers. 8:30 is more like it for this bunch, so for us to be out of the house by 8am for an entire week is a big accomplishment. I guess this is the new me; an early riser. Maybe if I just  keep saying it I just might start believing it. I’ll keep you updated….

With school comes snacktime. Another new normality; no nuts. That is tough one for us since we all love nuts of every kind – but since we want to be kind to other little ones, a conscious effort will be made to make school snacks sans nuts. But….. if you wanted to add nuts to this recipe, by all means, please do! Add some for me! Walnuts are a great choice, but sunflower seeds (1/2 C) are truly perfect in this. I haven’t confirmed if they are okay yet to be in the classroom; I think they would be but I want to be polite and make certain before adding them to anything.

This falls into the healthy category while still being really tasty. Veggies, whole wheat, ground flax.. all good things. Oh, and dairy free. Once your veggies are grated it takes moments to get this whipped up and in the oven. So wish me luck with the whole early rising thing and, as always, Bake On!

Carrot Zucchini Bread 

Makes 2 loaves, or 1 loaf and 12 muffins

Eat your veggies!

Preheat your oven to 350 F

1 1/2 C finely grated carrot
1 1/2 C finely grated zucchini (or a combination to make 13 oz)
zest and juice of 1 lemon
1/3 C (3 oz) Orange Juice
4 Eggs
1 C (8 oz )Canola Oil
1 Vanilla Bean,seeds scraped (save your pods for the sugar bowl) or 2 tsp pure vanilla
1 1/2 C (6 oz) Whole Wheat flour
1 3/4 C (5.3 oz) All-Purpose Flour
1/4 C (1 oz) Ground Flax Seed
2 tsp Baking Powder
1 tsp Baking Soda
1 C (7 oz) Light Brown Sugar, packed
1 1/4 C (8.5 oz) Granulated Sugar
2 tsp Cinnamon
1/4 tsp Cardamom
1/2 tsp Nutmeg, freshly ground if possible

Lightly grease 2 loaf pans or line 2 muffin tins with paper liners (or 1 of each as I did)

In a medium glass bowl, mix together  the zucchini, carrot, lemon zest/juice, eggs, orange juice and oil (the wet ingredients) until well blended.

In a separate large bowl, sift together the flours, the cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg, baking soda and baking powder. Add the ground flax seed and the sugars. Stir together well, making sure to get out any brown sugar clumps that might remain. I usually just use my fingers to make sure there are no clumps.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix until thoroughly blended. This is one of those lovely recipes that an electric mixer is not needed, it comes together easily with a wooden spoon. Pour into your prepared pans. Bake at 350 for approximately 45 minutes if using a loaf pan or 25 minutes if using a muffin tin. Either way, just bake until fragrant and golden brown.  A toothpick inserted should come out clean. Cool thoroughly before eating.

Enjoy!

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This months Baker’s Challenge was hosted by  Jamie of Life’s a Feast and Ria of Ria’s Collection . Jamie found this recipe on a piece of yellowed paper in her dad’s collection of clipped out and hand-written recipes from the 1970’s, no source, and no date. I had never heard of a yeast bread filled with meringue before. The original version of the recipe is filled with chopped walnuts, chocolate and cinnamon. Please check out some of my fellow bakers creations here, they are certainly a wonder. I chose to fill mine with homemade raspberry preserves and chocolate.  Though, I must admit, my first attempt was a total bust. When I first saw this challenge I thought to myself, “no sweat” and put it off. Well, when I first made it last week, I was trying to be fancy with the  shaping and ended up having my filling ooze out all over the counter (the first filling was raspberry and toasted coconut). So, after seeing that that wasn’t such a good idea, on the second attempt I stuck with a simple loaf. The original recipe was also doubled, making two loaves, but I felt that was just too much and cut the recipe in half, as seen below. I must also mention, the recipe states to let the dough rise for about one hour, or until double in size. Since it has butter and egg in it, it will actually take longer than that because of the fat. Just keep on eye on it and it will rise beautifully.  It will have such a lovey feel to it when you roll it out. Bake on….

FILLED MERINGUE COFFEE CAKE
Makes 1 round coffee cakes,  approximately 10 inches in diameter
 

Ingredients
For the yeast coffee cake dough:

2 cups (300 g) all-purpose flour
1/8 cup ( 27 g / 1 oz)  granulated sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/8 teaspoons / 3.5  g ) active dried yeast
scant 1/2 cup (90 ml / 3  fl oz) whole milk
1/8 cup (30 ml / 1 fl oz) water
1/2 tsp pure almond extract
seeds from 1 vanilla bean (optional)
1/4 cup (67 g / 2.5 oz.) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 large egg, 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:

1 Cup raspberry preserves
6 oz bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped

In a large mixing bowl, combine 3/4 (115 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 (using the paddle attachment)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 egg, almond extract, and vanilla seeds (if using)  and 1/2 cup (75 g) flour and beat for 2 more minutes.

Switch to the dough hook. Stir in enough of the remaining flour to make a dough that holds together. Knead the dough for 8 to 10 minutes until the dough is soft, smooth, and elastic. Alternately, you can do this all by hand using a large metal bowl and a wooden spoon. Knead on a floured countertop for 8-10 minutes.

Place the dough in a lightly greased (I use PAM) 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. Mine took 2 hours to rise.

Place the dough has doubled, make the meringue:
In a clean mixing bowl – ideally a 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.

Punch down the dough. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough into a 20 x 10-inch (about 51 x 25 ½ cm) rectangle. Spread the raspberry preserves evenly over the rectangle up to 1/2 inch from the edges. Spread the meringue evenly over the preserves. Sprinkle the chocolate  evenly over the meringue.

Now, roll up the dough jelly roll 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. Cut small slits down the center, or 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.

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

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Cream Cheese Coffeecake

The latest one from “A World Of Baking” is a delicious, moist coffeecake with tender crumbs that has a bit of struessel that is sprinkled on top before baking and sinks down slightly into the cake while baking. It is simple to make and one that will certainly be made again and again. I am sure there are countless ways to jazz up these recipes but I am sticking to my resolution on this cookbook and following the recipes as printed and I haven’t been disappointed yet. They have all been great so far.

CREAM CHEESE COFFEECAKE
1/2 C unsalted butter, room temperature
8 ounce pkg cream cheese
1 1/4 C granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla
2 Tbsp blackberry or raspberry jam or preserves (I used a mixed berry jam)
1 3/4 C sifted flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 salt
1/4 c milk

STREUSSEL

1/3 C brown sugar
1/3 C flour
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/3 C unsalted butter, cold

Preheat the oven to 350 F.

Butter a 9 x 13 inch pan.

Cream the butter, cream cheese, and sugar and beat until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, and blend well. Stir in the vanilla and jam, just until blended. Sift together the dry ingredients and add to the creamed mixture alternately with the milk, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Turn the batter into the buttered pan.

To make the streussel, combine the brown sugar, flour and cinnamon. Now work in the butter (I like to use my fingers) until the particles are about the size of small peas. Spread this over the batter. Bake the cake for 35-40 minutes, or until the cake test done.

Enjoy!

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