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Monday, March 28, 2011

Filled 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.  I love breakfast and when I learned that this months Daring Baker's challenge would be a coffee cake, I was jazzed.  I've never made a yeasted coffee cake before and this was something new to try out. 

To just look at the pictures doesn't do this recipe service.  The dough was so smooth and springy, it was a treat to work with.  Many people called this dough "sexy" and after making it, I have to agree.  It was so easy to roll out and fill, it rose and baked up like a dream. 

When it came down to deciding what to fill this sexy dough with I thought to keep it simple.  When I was little, we would get an Entenmann's walnut danish ring for breakfast every weekend.  When picking out the ring, my dad would go with the ring with the most frosting on the top.  As a kid, I couldn't help but agree with this method of choosing breakfast.  More frosting = more sugar!  I decided to fill my coffee cake with something similar to the Entenmann's version.  Cinnamon sugar with dried cranberries and walnuts, coated in a delicious layer of orange icing.

How did this coffee cake compare to the Entenmann's version of my youth?  Listen up dad, THIS IS SO MUCH BETTER!  The meringue melts into the coffee cake making it unbelievably moist and the cranberries and walnuts give it great sweetness and crunch.  Give up your storebought danish ring and head to the kitchen with mom, you won't be sorry.

Filled Meringue Coffee Cake

2 cups all purpose flour
2 tbsp sugar
1/3 tsp salt
1 1/8 tsp active dried yeast
3 oz whole milk
2 tbsp water
1/4 cup butter
1 egg at room temperature

1 1/2 egg whites (I cracked three and divided by weight, using the remaining 1 1/2 to make macarons!)
1/8 tsp salt
1/4 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup sugar

1 cup chopped walnuts
3/4 cup dried cranberries
2 tbsp sugar
1/4 tsp Saigon cinnamon

1 egg, beaten (for egg wash)

1 tbsp orange juice
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup powdered sugar

In the bowl of your stand mixer (or a large bowl) combine 3/4 cup flour, sugar, salt and yeast.

In a small saucepan, combine water, milk and butter.  Heat over low heat until butter is melted.  Slowly add to flour mixture and mix for 2 minutes.  Add egg and another 3/4 cup flour and mix for another 2 minutes.

Add in enough of the remaining 1/2 cup flour so that the dough sticks together.  Knead for 6 minutes with a dough hook then two minutes by hand (or 8 minutes by hand).  If using a stand mixer, the dough should clear the sides of the bowl, but stick to the bottom.

Spray a bowl with cooking oil and add dough ball.  Turn dough to coat in the oil then cover lightly with plastic wrap.  Allow to sit for 45-60 minutes, or until doubled in size.

While the dough is rising, prepare the meringue.  In a non-glass bowl, beat the egg whites and salt until they become foamy and opaque.  Add vanilla and slowly beat in sugar.  The merinuge should form stiff peaks and be very shiny.

Preheat oven to 350 F.  Take your dough out and deflate it (by punching it, heee-yah!).  Roll the dough out to a 20x10-inch rectangle (flour the surface if you need, I found it easier to roll out with it sticking to the surface a little).  Cover the dough rectangle with the meringue, staying about 1/4-inch from the edges.  Add walnuts and dried cranberries.  Sprinkle cinnamon/sugar evenly over the rectangle.

Roll up the rectangle so that you have a 20-inch long roll.  Form roll into a ring and close the ring by pinching the dough together.  Transfer to a baking sheet, covered in parchment paper and cut into the roll, with cooking shears, at 2-inch intervals.  Coat roll with egg wash.  Bake coffee cake for 30 minutes.

Remove from oven and slide off the baking sheet onto a wire cooling rack.  Allow to cool for at least 30 minutes.  Combine powdered sugar, orange juice and vanilla, drizzle over coffee cake.  Cut a slice and check out that deliciousness.

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