Sunday, March 27, 2011

Double Chocolate Cranberry Meringue Coffee Cake- Daring Baker's Challenge March '11

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.

Recipe Source: 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 it was brilliant!

This was a very interesting challenge. Once again, no need to be afraid of the yeast. Its really not difficult to work with, well, as long as you have fresh yeast and not something that's been living in your cupboard for years. Old yeast will undoubtedly give you rising issues. 

I was curious when I first read this challenge as to how the meringue would bake up inside the coffee cake. Its really amazing. The barely sweet brioche-like dough is rolled out jellyroll style and topped with fluffy meringue, dried cranberries, dark chocolate, white chocolate and pecans. The meringue that is inside the coffee cake just seems to melt into the cake and creates an unusual coating to the inside of the cake that gives it a touch of sweetness and creates a very moist interior. Its hard to describe, but trust me, its great! The meringue that peeks through the side slits on the coffee cake are slightly chewy and crisp. Needless to say, this coffee cake is out of this world when fresh from the oven. With no preservatives, I would certainly suggest that the yeasted coffee cake be consumed with one day. Of course, if you can make it last a full day, I would be most impressed! Enjoy!

When baking this recipe, you will have enough dough for 2 coffee cakes. I made one in a ring shape and one in a loaf pan.

If you make the loaf pan (which I highly recommend!), follow steps below (except save cinnamon and sugar for last step). After rolling up jellyroll style, slice off 1 inch spiral rolls. Place the rolls along the side of a greased loaf pan and then stack along the inside until all the spirals are used. Sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar mixture. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

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:

1/2 cup (110 g / 4 oz.) chopped pecans or walnuts
2 Tablespoons (30 g / 1 oz.) granulated sugar
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup (170 g / 6 oz.) mini semisweet chocolate chips or coarsely chopped dark chocolate
1/2 cup (170g / 6 oz.) white  chocolate chips
1/2 c. dried (sweetened) cranberries
Egg wash: 1 beaten egg

Directions: 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.
With an electric mixer on low speed with bread hook, 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.
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.

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.Assemble the Coffee Cakes:
Line 2 baking/cookie sheets with parchment paper or use Silpat.

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.