Thursday, March 31, 2011

Daring Bakers March 2011 Challenge: Yeasted 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.

This was my first challenge as a Daring Baker, it was good fun to have to try something new. The recipe was a rolled yeasted dough with a layer of meringue then a filling of my choice. There were two suggested fillings;
cinnamon, chopped pecans and chocolate chips or an Indian-inspired version with saffron added to the sweet yeast bread dough and garam masala and cashews flavoring the filling.

I flavoured mine with morello cherries, flaked almonds and chocolate chips. The flavours were really good but I should have taken head of this advice: "Don’t scrimp on either the chopped nuts or chocolate or whatever filling additions you choose as the crunch and the flavors are the focal point of this tender, moist, outrageously delicious coffee cake". I could have doubled the amount of filling in my cakes (the ingredients below are the increased amounts).

The meringue soaked into the dough everywhere except the slits which was kind of disappointing but I am sure it added to the moistness and sweetness. I still found this cake quite dry, a lot more cherries would have helped this.

Cherry, Chocolate and Almond Yeasted Meringue Coffee Cake
This makes two large cake rings, you could halve the recipe to make just one.


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 jar Morello cherries, drained and halved
250g chocolate chips
100g almond flakes


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, 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.

Prepare your meringue.

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.

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 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.

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.

Remove from the oven and slide the parchment paper off the cookie sheets onto the table. Very gently loosen the coffee cakes from the paper with a large spatula and carefully slide the cakes off onto cooling racks. Allow to cool.

Just before serving, dust the tops of the coffee cakes with confectioner’s sugar as well as cocoa powder if using chocolate in the filling. These are best eaten fresh, the same day or the next day.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

New Addition and No-bake Slices

This little one is the reason my lack of blogging, cooking and all things not sleep related for the past 2+ months. My baby is due in late September and will be eagerly awaited by Molly and Ava who have made stipulations that it must be a girl as there are "no boys allowed in our house except Daddy".
Nausea has been my constant companion and I have eaten an awful lot of salt and vinegar chips and plain noodles with soy sauce. Everything smells bad; please don't ask me to go anywhere near red meat cooking especially mince - yuk! My freezer is full of red meat that I bought to make easy slow cooker meals while I was sick, so hopefully it starts appealing soon.

I am generally off sweet things but I made this Mars Bar Slice on our trip to the South Coast recently and I could quite happily eat lots of that (although not the dark chocolate on top which is normally my favourite)! This is a no bake slice with rice bubbles and lots of mars bars. When I got home I made a healthier version with dates and rice bubbles (drizzled with chocolate) that was also good.

I have joined the Daring Bakers, an online group which you sign up to and agree to make the monthly challenge recipe. Not long til the end of the month so I had better find some energy and get baking so I can blog about it soon.

Mars Bar Slice
Most recipes for this slice coat it in 200g of milk chocolate. I find this overpowers the Mars Bar flavour so I have halved the amount of chocolate and recommend just drizzling it over.

240g  Mars Bars, chopped (4 x 60g bars or equivalent)
100g unsalted butter, chopped
3 C Rice Bubbles
100g milk or dark chocolate, chopped

Line an 18 x 28cm slice pan or 20cm square pan (for a thicker slice) with baking paper.

In a medium saucepan, stir Mars Bars and butter together over a low heat for 4-5 minutes until melted, it will eventually come together.

In a large bowl, add the rice bubbles to the melted mars bars one cup at a time and mix until combine. Press firmly into prepared pan. Chill until firm.

Melt chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water or in the microwave. Drizzle over slice. Chill until set.

Let the slice sit at room temperature for awhile to make it easier to slice. Then use a large knife to cut into small squares. Store in an airtight container in the fridge.

No-Bake Date and Rice Bubble Slice
The recipe for this slice is found all over the internet. The drizzle of chocolate to finish it is my idea!

250 g dried dates, chopped
1/2 C sugar
125 g butter
4 C Rice Bubbles
1/2 tsp vanilla
50 - 100g milk, dark or white chocolate

Line a 20cm square pan (or similar) with baking paper.

Add everything except the rice bubbles to a saucepan and bring to the boil for 2 mins. Remove from heat and beat well.

Add mixture to rice bubbles and stir until combined. Press into a lined tray and cool.

Melt the chocolate and drizzle over the slice. Refridgerate until set.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Morrocan Chicken

There hasn't been a lot of cooking in this house this year, more on that soon. Tonight my wonderful husband cooked up Morrocan chicken, an old favourite. It was so delicious, makes we wonder why we haven't had it in ages. We ate it with cous cous and steamed vegetables.

Morrocan Chicken
serves 4

500g chicken fillet ( I use breast), cut into strips
3 tbs flour, seasoned with salt and pepper
¼ C olive oil
2 onions, sliced
2 tsp ground cinnamon
¼ tsp ground cloves
2 tsp sumac*
¼ C sultanas
1 C chicken stock
50g toasted pine nuts
¼ C chopped fresh coriander
Juice of 1 lemon, plus wedges to serve
To serve
Couscous, Greek yoghurt, Lebanese bread and salad or vegetables

Toss chicken in the flour. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large frypan over high heat until hot, then cook chicken in batches until golden and set aside.

Heat remaining oil in pan. Add onions, reduce heat to medium and cook for 10 minutes, stirring, until golden and softened. Return chicken to pan with spices, sultanas and stock. Reduce heat to low and cook for 5 minutes until heated through and thickened slightly. Stir in pine nuts, coriander and lemon juice. Serve with couscous, yoghurt, bread and lemon.

Notes & tips: * Sumac is a purple, lemony spice used in North African and Middle Eastern cooking, it is fairly widely available.

Recipe from delicious June 2004 by Valli Little