Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Meringue Coffee Cake, March Daring Baker's Challenge

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.
For the dough:
4 cups flour
1/4 cup sugar
3/4 tsp salt
1 pkg. yeast (2 14/ tsp.)
3/4 cup whole milk
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
2 large eggs at room temperature

For the filling:
1 cup pecans or walnuts, chopped
2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

For the meringue:
3 large egg whites at room temperature
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup sugar

To make the dough:
In a large mixing bowl (I used my Kitchen-Aid), combine 1 1/2 cups of the flour, the sugar, salt, and yeast.
Combine the milk, water, and butter and heat just until the butter is mostly melted. (I used the microwave but you can also do this in a saucepan on the stove.)
With your mixer on low speed, gradually add the warm liquid to the flour/yeast mixture, beating until well blended. Increase the mixer speed to medium and beat for 2 minutes. Add the eggs and 1 cup of the flour and beat for another 2 minutes.
Using a wooden spoon, stir in enough of the remaining flour to make a dough that holds together. Switch your whisk attachment to your dough hook. (You can also hand knead the dough on a well-floured counter.) Knead the dough on low for 8-10 minutes adding as much of the 1 1/2 cups of flour as necessary to keep it from sticking. The dough should be soft, smooth, and elastic.
Place the ball of dough in a lightly oiled bowl, turning to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled, about 45-60 minutes.

To prepare the filling:
Chop the nuts and set aside. Combine the sugar and cinnamon and set aside. Measure your chocolate chips and set aside.

To prepare the meringue:
Once the dough has doubled, make the meringue.
In a clean plastic or metal bowl combine the egg whites and salt and beat on low for 30 seconds. Increase speed to high and beat until foamy and opaque (several minutes). Add the vanilla and the 1/2 cup of sugar--1 tablespoon at a time as you beat--until very stiff, glossy peaks form.

To assemble the coffee cakes:
Line 2 baking/cookie sheets with parchment paper.

Punch down the dough and divide in half. On a lightly floured surface, working with one piece of the dough at a time (keep the other half of the dough covered 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 filling evenly over the meringue (half of the cinnamon-sugar followed by half the chopped nuts and half of the chocolate chips).

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, 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 filling.

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.

Brush the tops of the coffee cakes with an egg wash:

1 egg beaten with 1 teaspoon water

Bake in the preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes until risen and golden brown. The dough should sound hollow when tapped.

Serve by cutting into slices and sprinkling with powdered sugar and cocoa powder (optional).

This is best served the same day.

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