Sunday, March 27, 2011

Yeasted Meringue Coffee Cake (DB)

The March 2011 Daring Bakers’ 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. 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, no date, and she tried the recipe and loved it! It's a gorgeous brioche-like dough rolled jellyroll style around a layer of whipped meringue, cinnamon, sugar, and chocolate chips, then shaped into a wreath and baked.

I halved this recipe because I didn't really see the need to have two coffee cakes around the house tempting me! The recipe was easy to follow, and instead of kneading the dough by hand I let my KitchenAid dough hook do the work for me.  I did have to add a little extra flour until the dough was ready and was no longer sticking to the sides of the bowl, but otherwise the recipe was really straightforward.  I used the filling recommended by Jamie, sans nuts, and simply doubled the amount of cinnamon in the mixture.  It came out just right!

I wasn't sure what to expect from the meringue layer that is rolled into this cake, but as Ria and Jamie describe, the meringue "miraculously melts into the dough as it bakes leaving behind just a hint of sweetness and adding to the perfect moistness of the cake."  Some of it does ooze out between the slits cut into the cake, and that part of the meringue bakes up into slightly crisp, ooey gooey goodness!

Thanks Ria and Jamie, for hosting this month's challenge.  It was delicious and I'll definitely be making it again. Make sure you check out the Daring Bakers' Blogroll to see how everyone else enjoyed this wonderful breakfast treat.

And don't forget - I'm giving you two chances right now to enter to win a $100 Visa gift card.  There are just a few days left to enter the giveaway that ends on March 31st.  You have until April 11th to enter my second giveaway here.

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
¼ cup (55 g / 2 oz.) sugar
¾ teaspoon (5 g / ¼ oz.) salt
1 package (2 ¼ teaspoons / 7 g / less than an ounce) active dried yeast
¾ cup (180 ml / 6 fl. oz.) whole milk
¼ cup (60 ml / 2 fl. oz. water (doesn’t matter what temperature)
½ 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 ½ - 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
¼ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon vanilla
½ cup (110 g / 4 oz.) sugar

For the filling:
Jamie’s version: (this recipe is for 1 coffee cake)
1 cup (110 g / 4 oz.) chopped pecans or walnuts
2 Tablespoons (30 g / 1 oz.) granulated sugar
¼ 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
½ 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

**Garam (means “hot”) masala (means “mixture”) is a blend of ground spices and is used in most Indian savory dishes. It is used in limited quantities while cooking vegetables, meats & eggs. There is no “one” recipe for it as every household has a recipe of their own. Below, I am going to share the recipe which I follow.
4 or 5 sticks (25 g) Cinnamon Sticks (break a stick and open the scroll)
3 ½ tablespoons (25 g / less than an ounce) Cloves, whole
100 g. (3.5 oz.) Fennel seeds
4 tablespoons (25 g / less than an ounce) Cumin seeds
1 ½ tablespoons (10 g / less than half an ounce) Peppercorns
25 g (less than half an ounce) Green Cardamom pods

In a small pan on medium heat, roast each spice individually (it hardly takes a minute) until you get a nice aroma. Make sure you stir it throughout so that it doesn’t burn. As soon as each spice is roasted, transfer it to a bowl to cool slightly. Once they are all roasted, grind into a fine powder by using a coffee grinder, or pestle & mortar. Store in an airtight container and use as needed.

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. 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 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.
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 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 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 ½ 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.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Irish Soda Bread and a Giveaway

This week's Sweet Melissa Sundays (SMS) recipe was chosen by Julie of A Little Bit of Everything: Irish Soda Bread.  It's called that because it uses baking soda instead of yeast as the rising agent.  As such, this recipe is quick and easy and does not require any "rising time."

I found this recipe to be easy and straightforward. The recipe calls for golden raisins and currants, but I had neither on hand so I added dark raisins and dried cherries to mine.  The only problem I ran into was the dough being extremely sticky.  Melissa says to use "a little flour" if needed, to form the dough into a large round.  I had to add a lot of flour to mine before it was even manageable.  I was worried that in doing so, I over worked my dough and the bread would not turn out very good, but in the end I still had a nice bread to show for it.  Traditional Irish soda bread doesn't contain any dried fruit in it, it was only in later years that the dried fruit was mixed in, but I found the fruit to be a nice addition.  I've never had Irish soda bread before, but I really don't think that I would like the version without the dried fruit.

Thanks, Julie, for hosting this week. Overall, I thought this bread was good but I think I much prefer yeast breads over this one (even if they do take longer).  If you'd like the recipe, you can find it here. Make sure you check out the Sweet Melissa Sundays Blog Roll to see how everyone else enjoyed this traditional Irish treat!

And last but not least - I've just posted another big giveaway - you have until April 11th to check out my Stouffer's review and enter to win a $100 Visa gift card.  Also, if you haven't already entered my other giveaway, make sure you click here and enter to win before March 31st.

* Recipe notes:
- I found that this bread took much longer to bake than indicated.  I had to bake mine an additional 10-15 minutes before it was done.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Citrus Currant Sunshine Muffins (TWD)

This week's Tuesdays with Dorie (TWD) recipe was chosen by Lauryn of Bella Baker: Citrus Currant Sunshine Muffins. Made with orange juice, lemon juice, orange zest, and dried currants, these muffins are definitely screaming "sunshine" as their name implies.

I didn't have any currants on hand, so I used dried cherries instead. I increased the amount of cherries to a full cup, and that ended up being just right. I think with just 3/4 cup, you'd end up with some bites that were without any dried fruit and that's no fun! ;)

While these muffins have plenty of citrus in them (and some lemon extract), I didn't find the citrus flavor to be very strong. It was there, but I guess I thought it would be much more prominent given the name of these muffins.

I read that many other bakers enjoyed the fact that these weren't very sweet.  Personally, I would have liked these muffins to be a little bit sweeter (but I have a big sweet tooth!). Perhaps a streusel topping is in order next time? :) Overall, though, these muffins were a delight and I would definitely make them again.

Thanks Lauryn, for hosting this week.  If you would like the recipe, you can find it here. Make sure you check out the TWD Blogroll, to see how everyone else enjoyed these citrus-y treats!  And, if you haven't already, head on over here to enter my current giveaway. 

* Recipe notes:
- I increased the amount of dried fruit from 3/4 cup to 1 cup.
- For more recipe tips, click here

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Chocolate Pots de Crème and a Giveaway (TWD)

This week's Tuesdays with Dorie (TWD) recipe was chosen by Christine of Black Cat Cooking: Chocolate Pots de Crème. Just like the name implies, these are little pots of cream! Pots de crème are a loose French custard - they aren't quite as firm or dense as other custards like flan.

Aside from their looser consistency, you will find that these are very similar to creme brulee (just without that yummy crunchy caramelized sugar "crust").  They are made the same way you would make creme brulee, except these are covered while baking.  Pots de crème are made with eggs, egg yolks, sugar, cream, milk, and chocolate. The milk and cream are heated and then slowly added to the whisked eggs/egg yolks and sugar until it is tempured. It is then flavored with chocolate ganache and the final mixture is poured into porcelain cups (also called "pots de crème"), and baked in a water bath at low heat until set.

These were smooth and creamy but not too heavy.  I didn't compare the proportion of milk, cream and eggs in this recipe to what's in creme brulee, but these definitely seemed less heavy.  I know creme brulee recipes only use yolks and this one used both whole eggs and yolks, so that would make sense.  Personally, I love the crystallized/burnt sugar layer on top of creme brulee. So even though I'd make this recipe again based on taste, I probably won't be making it again because I'd just rather make chocolate creme brulee instead!

Thanks Christine, for hosting this week.  If you would like the recipe, you can find it here. Make sure you check out the TWD Blogroll, to see how everyone else enjoyed these creamy, chocolatey treats!  And, if you'd like to win a $100 Visa gift card, head on over here to enter my current giveaway.  I've got a few giveaways lined up for March, so be sure to check back often!

* Recipe notes:
- If you don't have any pots de crème, you can simply use ramekins.
- For more recipe tips, click here