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Saturday, April 2, 2011

Yeasted Meringue Coffee Cake - Daring Bakers March Challenge

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.

A whole week late! I rushed to get this challenge done on the 27th, Reveal Date, and made a dreadful mess. After that I was intending to pass the March challenge by until I spent some time looking at the lovely creations of fellow DB'ers. Surely it was worth another shot. I think it was quite a difficult cake to make, but one that would get easier once the techniques were mastered. Now that I have the cake in some sort of reasonable shape, I feel courageous about trying something similar. The recipe is basically for a rich brioche-type dough, filled with a layer of whipped meringue, which is then covered in cinnamon sugar, nuts, and chocolate chips. The last step is to roll the dough, Swiss roll style, and create a wreath shape. The recipe makes two cakes.

Filled Meringue Coffee Cake

Ingredients for Dough: 4 cups flour 1/4 cup sugar 3/4 tsp. salt 1 package active dry yeast (2-1/4 tsp.) 3/4 cup whole milk 1/4 water (temperature does not matter) 1/2 cup unsalted butter (one stick) at room temperature 2 large eggs at room temperature 1/2 tsp. ground cardamon Ingredients for Meringue: 3 large egg whites at room temperature 1/4 tsp. salt 1/2 tsp. vanilla 1/2 cup sugar Ingredients for the Filling: 1 cup chopped pecans, toasted, 2 Tbs. sugar. 1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon, 1 cup (6 ozs.) Lindt milk chocolate from a bar, cut up finely into chips . Egg Wash - one beaten egg.

Directions for the Dough: 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 heat until warm and the butter is just melted. Add 1/2 teasp. ground cardamom. Let sit for 10 minutes so cardamom flavor can steep. With an electric mixture (hand mixer is fine) 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 of flour and beat for 2 more minutes. Using a wooden spoon, stir in most of the rest of the flour so that it makes a dough that holds together. Turn dough out onto a floured board or silpat and knead for 10 minutes, using what is left of the flour (about 1/4 cup) for the work surface. Add extra flour as needed. Place the kneaded dough into a lightly greased bowl, turning to coat all sides. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and a kitchen towel and let sit until double in bulk, 60 plus minutes. Prepare the filling in a small bowl: Combine the sugar and cinnamon and set aside in a small bowl; chop up chocolate and chop up toasted pecans. Set aside.

Once the dough has doubled, make the meringue. In a clean metal 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 sugar, one Tbs. at a time while beating, until meringue is very stiff and glossy and forms stiff peaks.

Assemble the Cakes :Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper. Very important - grease and flour the paper. Punch down the dough and divide in half. On a lightly floured surface, working with one piece at a time (keep the other half wrapped in plastic), roll out the dough into a 20x10 inch rectangle. Spread half of the meringue evenly over the rectangle up to about one, even 1-1/2 inches from the sides. Sprinkle half of the cinnamon sugar, then the chopped nuts, then the chocolate pieces onto the meringue covered rectangle. 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, greased 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 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 about 60 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. 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/cake off the hot cookie sheets onto the table. Very carefully loosen the coffee cakes from the paper with a spatula and carefully slide the cakes off onto cooling racks. The cakes tend to stick to the paper - it took me two cake lifters and a knife to get them off. (If it doesn't come off easily, can always turn the cake upside down when its cool and firm and just peel the sticky paper off.)