From my childhood, I remember that every few years or so there would be some sort of catastrophe. There was Hurricane Katrina, 9/11, the huge tsunami and Haiti. Now, there’s Japan, and I personally think, that this recent disaster has been one worst ones of them all. It was a huge triple blow to Japan. First the earthquake and its aftershock, then the tsunami, and now the impending disaster of a possible nuclear explosion.
When I saw the before and after shots, I was astonished by how much Japan had been affected by all of this. It’s absolutely devastating, especially for the people there. It’s truly heartbreaking. I feel the need to do something, and I’m thinking about doing maybe, a bake sale for Japan? I’m not sure how that will work out, but I’ll try to do the best I can.
On a happier note: I made the daring bakers challenge, and I loved it!
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.
This coffee cake is so delicious soft and most definitely not the way I expected it to be. When I saw the addition of the meringue in this, I was surprised. Usually when baked, meringue turns hard, however when I took it out of the oven and cut myself a piece, I saw that instead of a hard sugary layer inside which I’d expected, there was a warm, and utterly soft inside with a layer of almond chunks, chocolate and white chocolate.
The texture of the cake was amazing, and it was very similar to the texture of brioche, a cross between a cake, and bread. The chocolate inside added wonderful taste to it and the almonds gave a subtle nutty crunch. This is absolutely amazing, when it was straight out of the oven, and just as good when toasted a little afterwards.
Filled Meringue Coffee Cake
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
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 (110 g / 4 oz.) coarsely chopped roasted almonds
- 2 Tablespoons (30 g / 1 oz.) granulated sugar
- ½ c. white chocolate
- ½ c. semisweet chocolate
- 1 beaten egg (or if you simply happen to have egg yolks lying about, those work too!)
- Cocoa powder (optional) and confectioner’s sugar (powdered/icing sugar) for dusting cakes
To Prepare the dough:
1. In a large mixing bowl, combine 1 ½ cups (230 g) of the flour, the sugar, salt and yeast.
2. In a saucepan, combine the milk, water and butter and heat over medium heat until warm and the butter is just melted.
3. With an electric mixer on low speed, gradually add the warm liquid to the flour/yeast mixture, beating until well blended.
4. Increase mixer speed to medium and beat 2 minutes. Add the eggs and 1 cup (150 g) flour and beat for 2 more minutes.
5. Using a wooden spoon, stir in enough of the remaining flour to make a dough that holds together.
6. 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.
7. 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.
8. 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:
1. 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.
2. Then increase to high and continue beating until foamy and opaque.
3. Then 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:
Note: I made little individual pockets, but it was hard to fill these and in the end they didn’t have enough filling. So I recommend taking a look at the other shapes the other bakers made here(just click on any link you want and check it out :)). Below I’ve included the instructions for a wreath like shape, which most bakers did.
1. Line 2 baking/cookie sheets with parchment paper.
2. Punch down the dough and divide in half.
3. 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.
4. Spread half of the meringue evenly over the rectangle up to about 1/2-inch (3/4 cm) from the edges.
5. 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).
6. 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.
7. 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.
8. Repeat with the remaining dough, meringue and fillings.
9. Cover the 2 coffee cakes with plastic wrap and allow them to rise again for 45 to 60 minutes.
10. Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C).
11. 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.
12. 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.
13. Allow to cool.