Sunday, March 27, 2011

DB Challenge March: Yeasted Coffee Cake

When I saw this month's challenge I was pretty excited. I'm excited about anything resembling a danish form really. It's an emotion I experience of childhood memories of spending my school breaks in Florida, where I would always get a cheese danish anytime I could when we were out for breakfast.Apparently, as a child I thought that you could only get these wonderful gems of creamy goodness while on vacation...ahhh the innocence of youth.
I still scan every menu while in Florida where I now spend my son's school breaks. He's not really as much of a Danish fan, but that doesn't mean I won't try :)
I made 2 kinds of filling for these coffee cakes (danish)

1. Cinnamon brown sugar frangipane w/ pecans

3 tbsp butter, softened
3/4 c. brown sugar not packed
1 egg
1 c. ground almonds
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 c. pecans

Mix the first 5 ingredients in a bowl till smooth. Once the dough is rolled out spread the mixture over the dough, then sprinkle pecans over top. Roll according to instructions listed below and bake.

2. Blueberry/Raspberry with Honey sweetened Chevre

1/3 c. raspberries
3/4 c. blueberries
2 tbsp honey
1 small package of chevre, softened
1/4 honey
1 tsp vanilla extract

Put berries in a saucepan with 2 tbsp honey, boil until slightly syrupy then set aside to cool.
In a bowl mix chevre and honey and vanilla together till smooth.
Note* add more honey if necessary. The chevre can be quite sharp

Roll out the dough and spread chevre mix on dough, then follow with berries. Be sure to drain to juice that has collected from cooking, otherwise you mix will be too watery.
Continue with instructions to bake

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.

Preparation time:

For the dough:

10 - 15 minutes preparation of the dough

8 – 10 minutes kneading

45 – 60 minutes first rise

10 – 15 minutes to prepare meringue, roll out, fill and shape dough

an additional 45 – 60 minutes for second rising.

Baking time: approximately 30 minutes


Makes 2 round coffee cakes, each approximately 10 inches in diameter

The recipe can easily be halved to make one round coffee cake


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

10 strands saffron for Ria’s version (Saffron might be hard to find and it’s expensive, so you can substitute with 1⁄2 - 1 teaspoon of ground cardamom or ground nutmeg. Or simply leave it plain like Jamie’s version)

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:

Jamie’s version:

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

Ria’s version:

1 cup (130 g / 5 oz.) chopped cashew nuts

2 Tablespoons (30 g / 1 oz.) granulated sugar

1⁄2 teaspoon garam masala (You can make it at home – recipe below - or buy from any Asian/Indian grocery store)

1 cup (170g / 6 oz.) semisweet chocolate chips ( I used Ghirardelli)

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 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.

(Ria’s version: add the 10 saffron threads to the warmed liquid and allow to steep off of the heat for 10 minutes. This will give the mixture a distinct aroma and flavor and a yellowish-orange hue)

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.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

A Decade

Ever have one of those moments in your life where you stop and think, really??? It's actually been 10 years??
It feels like somedays it's been forever and others it was just yesterday.

This month my son turned 10.
My son is my whole life, my one, my everything. So let's just say whatever he wants or asks for he gets....within reason of course.
My son is my buddha, my calm in my storm. He is the epitome of zen, and old soul as I like to call him.
Ok, ok enough gushing and making you sick about how much I love him.

I always ask my son what he wants for his birthday dinner. Every year he picks usually the same thing. In fact the last 3 years has been the same.

The cake requests however changes every year. This year is a rainbow cake. It was supposed to be a rainbow sprinkle cake, but I decided to do one better. A whole cake that is a rainbow.

The recipe is simple.
1. A box of white cake mix...tisk, tisk I know it's not homemade
2. A large can of white frosting or your favourite buttercream recipe
3. A box of Wilton assorted colour gel food dye
4. Rainbow jimjams

I dyed 6 bowls of batter each colour of the rainbow and then poured into a greased 8 inch pan.
Basically pour 1 batter on top of the other it will spread naturally.

I got 2 cakes out of the batter.

Bake according to the box instructions.
Cool and then frost.
I covered the outside in jimjams.

Simple but effective.