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Daring Bakers Challenge: Yeasted Meringue Coffee Cake

March 29, 2011

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Mid month means, it’s the Daring Bakers 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. The Coffee Cake recipe was a clipped out slip of paper yellowed with age found amongst a collection, but boy is it a winner. I’ve stored this recipe as a permanent keeper. Aside from its basic deliciousness, this recipe is meant for two cakes, which means you’ll always have one to share!

A slight caution. For the most delicious results, allot at least three hours for the process. The dough has to rise twice. And for the most delicious dough, you really want to be generous with the rising time. Good news is, of the three hours, there’s only about 35 active minutes of time.

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One of the most fun parts of this recipe, is its surprise component. The meringue-filled center. It’s not uncommon when following a new recipe to have moments where you’re skeptical. You think, how bizarre to add raisins to a chicken salad recipe. Then, the raisins turn out to be your favorite thing about the dish. This recipe had a like moment for me with the meringue.

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At first I thought, wont all the meringue just melt as it bakes into the bread. Then, after I cut the dough before baking, I saw how the meringue was pushed out into those fanned out bits, and I thought to myself “wont these taste egg-y and unpleasant once it cooks?” After all, I had had unpleasant bites of soufflé egg white, wouldn’t this be similar?

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Instead, it doesn’t taste like boring old egg whites. It tastes like heaven. The sugar from the cake kind of melts into the meringue, and makes for the most divine bites. Instead of avoiding those pieces, they were prized and the most delicious.

Now, about creating this beauty. First, we must create the dough. This dough recipe is a little different than most, as it isn’t an “all dry, all wet, then all together” recipe. Instead, it’s like “a little by a little.”

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Begin by gathering the ingredients separately for:

Coffee Cake Dough:

1.5 lbs all purpose flour (about 4 cups)
¼ cup sugar
¾ teaspoon salt
2 ¼ teaspoons active dried yeast
¾ cup milk
¼ cup water (temperature does not matter)
½ cup unsalted butter
2 large eggs at room temperature

Spiced Sugar and Stuffing:

2 Tablespoons granulated sugar
¼ teaspoon each ground cinnamon & ground coriander

4 oz chopped pecans (or walnuts)
6 oz semisweet chocolate chips or coarsely chopped chocolate

Meringue:

3 large egg whites at room temperature
¼ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon vanilla
½ cup (110 g / 4 oz.) sugar

First step is to create the dough.

Gently melt in a saucepan the butter with the milk, not bringing the liquids past steaming heat. In a mixing bowl, combine 1/3 of the flour with the sugar, salt and yeast. Add in the milk and butter, and mix on low speed until well combined and beat for two minutes on medium-high speed. Then add the 2 whole eggs and another cup of flour to the dough. Mix for another 2 minutes.

Then, on lowest speed, or manually with a wooden spoon or hard plastic spatula, add flour until dough comes together. Knead, either on medium high speed with a dough hook or by hand, for 8 – 10 minutes, adding flour as needed. Once dough is smooth and rounded, lay to rest in a covered and greased bowl.

Then let the dough rise. For at least 45 minutes. Stray more towards the full hour. The dough will appreciate it. It will breathe in those air bubbles that make the dough pillow-y and soft.

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While the dough is almost finished rising, make the meringue. Beat room temperature egg whites on medium-low with salt until foamy. Then, gradually increase speed and add sugar until opaque colored. Then, add vanilla and beat on high until stiff peaks. Separately, prepare chopped chocolate and pecans, and combine spices with sugar, for the fillings.

Take the dough out and divide it into two pieces. With each piece, roll the dough out in a rectangle. Before stuffing it. That’s right, you’re stuffing this cake. First sprinkle on the spiced sugar. Then spread the meringue on half of the dough rectangle and top with the chopped chocolate and nuts . Carefully roll the dough up, beginning at stuffed side until you have a long roll.

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Form the roll into a circle and press the two ends together to close the circle. Make cuts in the circle at even intervals and assist in fanning the cake out. Allow the formed cake to rise for at least 45 minutes. In the meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400. Once the cake has risen, brush with an egg wash, and bake for at least 35 minutes, or until the cake sounds hallow when tapped.

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