Ever since I discovered the wonderful world of food blogs, I've wanted to participate in the different challenges. So one of the first thing I did whenever I set this blog up, was to sign up for the Daring Bakers, and March is my first challenge! So excited!
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.
Such a good challenge, because just as I found out what we would be baking, I was looking up King Cake recipes to make for Mardi Gras. Now I realize that this is not a recipe for a King Cake, but I decided to make my first coffee cake pretty much as directed by Ria and Jamie, but to decorate it King Cake style. There's always next year to bake up a traditional King Cake!
The dough is a bit like a brioche, or cinnamon bun dough. I didn't flavor the dough in any way. I made the meringue and topped it with cinnamon sugar, and chocolate chips. Rolled it up, shaped it, let it rise (not enough), slashed it, forgot to egg wash it, and baked it.
Then came the fun part. I made quick glaze of powdered sugar and milk, brushed it on, and went crazy with the traditional colored sugar typical of a King Cake. I love the way it looks! I also like the crunch of the sugar on top too. Really good!
For the second one, I used a lemon filling, based on the sticky lemon rolls (kinda like a cinnamon bun, but with lemon instead of cinnamon) that I've been bookmarking like crazy, but never made. I mean, meringue and lemon, just go together, right?
Even though they were a bit dry, both loaves were gone way faster than they should of been. And frankly, I didn't even want to share them. They were that good.
But then, reading the comments of other Daring Bakers, I thought I'd try the recipe again, and see if I could get a better end product. And I did!
Really, the only difference was using less flour, letting the dough rise twice before rolling it out, rolling it out without flour and letting the loaves double their size after being shaped. All stuff I should have done the first time around.
On my second try, I made a cinnamon brown sugar filling for half the dough. For the other one, I flavored the meringue with instant espresso, and sprinkled crushed Coffee Crisp bars on top of it. My husband really liked the cinnamon bun one, and my parents loved the coffee flavored one. All four are winners in my book.
Filled meringue coffee cake
Makes 2 round coffee cakes, each approximately 10 inches in diameter
For the yeast coffee cake dough:
4 cups flour
¼ cup sugar
¾ teaspoon salt
1 package (2 ¼ teaspoons) active dried yeast
¾ cup whole milk
¼ cup water (doesn’t matter what temperature)
½ 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
¼ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon vanilla
½ cup sugar
For the chocolate cinnamon filling:
2 tablespoon granulated sugar
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips or coarsely chopped chocolate
For the lemon filling:
1 cup sugar
zest of 2 lemons
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Egg wash: 1 beaten egg
Prepare the dough:
In a large mixing bowl, combine 1 ½ 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. (I did this in the microwave)
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 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 ½ 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. (I did all this in the kitchen aid mixer)
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. (I put mine in a plastic container with the lid on, but not snapped shut.)
Prepare your fillings: In a small bowl, combine the cinnamon and sugar for the filling. Measure out the chocolate so you can sprinkle it after the cinnamon sugar.
In another bowl, work the lemon zest in with the sugar with the tips of your fingers until the sugar resembles wet, soft sand. Stir in the lemon juice.
Once the dough has doubled, make the meringue:
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:
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 ½ cm) rectangle. Spread half of the meringue evenly over the rectangle up to about 1/2-inch (3/4 cm) from the edges. Sprinkle one of the fillings evenly over the meringue.
Now, roll up the dough jellyroll style, from the long side. Pinch the seam closed to seal. (I didn't do this.) 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 make cuts along the outside edge at 1-inch intervals. Make them as shallow or as deep as desired but don’t be afraid to cut deep into the ring. (I did this after the second rise.)
Repeat with the remaining dough, meringue and filling.
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. (I forgot to do this for the first one.) 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.
Although the only time I had ever used yeast was to make no knead bread, this recipe was pretty straight forward. Came together very nicely in the kitchen aid. I didn't even have trouble rolling it out, and that's accounting for my hate of the rolling pin. I think I rolled it much thinner than the other bakers, judging by the pictures I saw. Meringue whipped up nicely too, no problems there.
With the chocolate one, I think I didn't let the yeast do its thing on the second rise. There wasn't much action there.
With the lemon one, the filling was way more prone to catastrophe, it being so liquidy. And I didn't pinch the seams closed. It oozed out everywhere. So there wasn't much lemon flavor left in the cake, as it was all over the cookie sheet. So glad I chose the rimmed on to bake this one on! The cake was still really yummy though.
Totally worth the time it took to make them. A great challenge! Can't wait for the next one!