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 making various breads and working with yeast. I know it's scary for some people, but I'm forever amazed by the way a few simple ingredients can be transformed through yeast, kneading and the heat of the oven. Plus, who doesn't love the carb-y deliciousness of bread?!
This dough was a joy to work with. It was silky, rich and very easy to roll out and roll up. I've never made a coffee cake with meringue in it, but loved the way the meringue sort of melted into the bread as it baked and made it so moist and slightly chewy!
The combination of nuts, chocolate and cinnamon sounded heavenly as it was, so I chose to stay fairly close to the recipe and filled it with a combination of chopped chocolate, hazelnuts, cinnamon and some coconut, yum!
Meringue Coffee Cake
(Makes 2 10-inch coffee cakes)
For the dough:
4 cups all purpose flour
¼ cup sugar
¾ teaspoon salt
1 package active dried yeast
¾ cup whole milk
¼ cup water
½ cup 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 sugar
For the filling:
1 cup hazelnuts, chopped
2 Tablespoons granulated sugar
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup chopped chocolate
3/4 cup sweetened flaked coconut
For the dough:
1. In a saucepan, combine the milk, water and butter and heat over medium heat until warm and the butter is just melted. Meanwhile, combine 1 ½ cups of the flour, the sugar, salt and yeast in the bowl of your stand mixer (you can do this by hand or with and hand mixer as well). Once the butter mixture is melted, but not too hot, gradually add it to the flour mixture and beat until well blended. Increase the speed to medium and beat for an additional 2 minutes. Next, add your eggs and 1 cup of flour and beat for 2 more minutes.
2. 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.
3. Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl, turning to coat all sides. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and a kitchen towel and let rise in a warm place for 45-60 minutes, or until doubled in size.
For the filling and assembly:
1. In a small bowl, combine the cinnamon and sugar for the filling. Have your chopped chocolate, coconut and nuts on hand. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
2. In a very clean mixing bowl, 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.
3. Punch down your risen dough and cut into 2 equal parts. On a lightly floured surface, working one piece of the dough at a time while keeping the other half wrapped in plastic wrap, roll out the dough into a 20 x 10-inch rectangle. Spread half of the meringue evenly over the rectangle up to about 1/2-inch from the edges. Sprinkle half of your cinnamon/sugar over the meringue, then half of your nuts, chocolate and coconut.
4. Roll the dough up jelly roll style starting from the long side. Pinch the seam closed tightly to seal and 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.
5. Using kitchen scissors or a sharp knife, make cuts along the outside edge at 1-inch 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.
6. Preheat the oven to 350F. Once the cakes have finished rising, brush the tops of the coffee cakes with an egg wash composed of a whole egg and a splash of water that have been beaten together. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until risen and golden brown. The dough should sound hollow when tapped.
7. Gently remove the cakes from the pans by sliding them off the parchment paper onto cooling racks and allow to cool. It's best served fresh!