Sunday, March 27, 2011

Yeasted Meringue Coffee Cake

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 is the third yeasted cake I have baked this winter season. Each of these cakes were different yet the same. Oh don't misunderstand this is far from a complaint. It's just that each one was so delicious it was very hard to share. However this challenge yielded 2, yes two cakes. Can you see my smile? I can share this time!!!!
Ria and Jaime gave the Daring Baker's the freedom to choose the filling for these beautiful coffee cakes. I chose to keep it simple with a cinnamon and raisin filling. The recipe as you know can be found on some of my fellow baker's blogs. I will leave it in your capable hands to search out. However, I will review the directions.
To preparing the dough combine 1 1/2 cups of the flour, sugar , salt, and yeast in a bowl. Set aside. In a saucepan, combine the milk, water, and butter. Heat over medium heat until warm and the butter is melted.
Using an electric mixer on low speed, gradually add the warm liquid to the flour/yeast mixture, beating until well blended. Increase the mixer speed and beat 2 minutes. Add the eggs and 1 cup of the remaining flour. Beat 2 more minutes. I changed out the beater for the dough hook at this point and add only a little more of the flour. Then kneased the dough for 8-10 minutes until the dough was smooth, soft, and elastic.
The dough goes into an oiled bowl and covered with plastic for its first rise. In the meantime the filling may be prepared. I combined sugar, cinnamon, and raisins in a bowl and set aside. This version calls for a meringue to be prepared using egg whites, sugar, salt and vanilla. When the dough is ready- punch it down and divide it in half. Roll each half one at a time into a rectangle. spread them with the meringue and cinnamon raisin filling. Roll the rectangles into logs and form a ring. Using scissors cut slits along the outside edge.
Cover the cake with plastic and let them rise again. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Brush the cakes with an egg wash. Bake in the preheated oven for 25-30 minutes until golden brown and risen. the dough should sound hollow when tapped. I drizzled the top with a lemon juice, powdered sugar and milk glaze. Then sprinkled with chopped pecans.
The cake was soft, delicately sweet with just enough filling to make it difficult to stop at one piece. Consequently, I after tasting I found it very hard to part with the second cake. Although I really love to see that smile emerge when someone takes their first bite. it went to make yet someone else happy.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

King Cake for Mardi Gras

This week is Mardi Gras and although I have never had the opportunity to join the festivities down south, it does not deter my curiousity. After reading and searching for information and a worthy King Cake recipe this is what I found. The King Cake tradition came to New Orleans with the first French settlers and has stayed ever since. Although some of the details have evolved and changed over the years, whoever got the porcelain baby, coin, or bean in their slice of cake would host the party next year.
For the recipe I decided to use a version from Emeril Lagasse. This version is filled with a sweetened cream cheese filling. This King Cake is a yeast cake enriched with egg and butter. So lets begin with the ingredients.
2 envelopes active dry yeast
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 sticks butter, melted
1 cup milk (about 110 degrees)
5 egg yolks, at room temp
4 1/2 cups flour
2 tsp salt
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp lemon zest
1 tsp oil
1 lb cream cheese, at room temp
3 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla
5 tbs milk, at room temp
2 tbs lemon juice
Purple, green, and gold sugar sprinkles (purple for justice, green for faith, and gold for power)
king baby, bean or pecan half
1.- Combine the yeast and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. Add the melted butter and warm milk. Beat at low speed for 1 minute. With the mixer running, add the egg yolks, then beat 1 minute at medium speed. Add the flour, salt, nutmeg, and zest; beat until everything is incorporated. Increase the speed to high and beat until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl, forms a ball, and climbs up the dough hook.
2.- Remove the dough from the bowl. Using your hands, form the dough into a ball. Lightly oil a bowl with the vegatable oil. Place the dough in the bowl and cover with plastic, Set aside in a warm, draft-free place unmtil doubled, about 2 hours.
3.- Meanwhile, make the filling. In a large mixing bowl, combine the cream cheese, vanilla and 1 cup of the powdered sugar. Blend until smooth. Set aside. Line a baking sheet with parchment.
4.- Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and using your fingers, pat it out to a rectangle about 30" x 6". Spread the filling lengthwise over the bottom half of the dough. Flip the top half of dough over the filling and pinch the sides to seal. Shape the dough into a cylinder and shapre into a ring, seam side down on the parchment lined sheet. Insert the bean, baby, or pecan into the bottom of the ring. Cover the ring with a clean cloth and place in a warm, draft-free place. Let the dough rise until it is doubled, about 45 minutes.
5.-Brush the top of the risen cake with 2 tbs of milk. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven until golden brown, about 25-30 minutes. Remove from oven and cool completely.
6.- Make the icing: Combine the remaining 3 tbs milk, lemon juice, and 2 cups of powdered sugar in a bowl. Stir to blend well. With a rubber spatula, spread the icing evenly over the top. Sprinkle the sugar crystals, alternating colors. Set aside to set up.
This cake yields 22-32 slices depending on how thick it is cut. The cake is wonderful, the nutmeg is delecate, not overpowering. The cream cheese filling is slightly sweet and the addition of vanillia makes it heavenly. I received many compliments from many tasters. It is really not as labor intensive as it sounds. I hope you give it a try. I know I will be making this again soon (but, I'll have to change the colors and its name)!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Old World Braided Coffee Cake

Wow, a record....three posts over three days! Love it! The March project with the Avid Baker's or "ABC" was Old World Braided Coffee Cake from Flo Braker, Baking For All Occassions. This coffee cake is a traditional enriched yeast cake with a delicious walnut filling. It may look difficult and is definitely impressive. It can be enjoyed any time of day or for any occassion. Lets take a look.
I started with the filling a day early. The recipe calls for ground walnuts (but I am sure almonds, pecans, or macadamia nuts can be used with equal success), sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon, salt, heavy cream, maple syrup, vanilla, and egg whites. Quite a list but don't let that scare you away. Aside from the egg whites the ingredients come together very easily in a food processor. The egg whites are added to the mixture after they are whipped. I put the mixture in the refrigerator overnight.
I don't dabble heavily into yeast based recipes because my success rate is usually 50-50. I know, I know success comes with experience. Ok, I really just want a little better odds! Anyway the chicken that I am would have ran the other way at the sight of the "y" word. Lately however, I embrase them still keeping my fingers and toes crossed though.
The sweet yeast dough ingredients are flour, sugar, yeast, salt, milk, butter, vanilla, and eggs. The instructions are a little different in that the yeast is added to the dry ingredients without proofing first. However, to my suprise and relief it worked.
The most impressive part of this project is forming the coffee cake. When the dough is ready it is rolled into a 16x12 rectangle, divided into three vertical strips by gently poking it with a fork. The filling is spread down the middle section. More strips are cut horizontally into the side flaps. Then one by one alternating sides the strips are folded over the filling. The results are a very impressive braid.
The cake comes out of the oven a beautiful golden color with a delicious aroma. A simple sugar glaze is spread over the top for that added shine. This cake is very good and I surely won't hesitate to make it again. Great choice Hanaa!