Sunday, March 27, 2011

Daring Bakers': 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. 


Jamie found the recipe for this cake on a piece of yellowed paper in her father’s collection of clipped out and hand-written recipes from the 1970’s- no source, no date.  But she tried the recipe and it was brilliant!


This got me thinking that I need to search for a few old family recipes of my own.  I have a box of my grandmother's handwritten recipes from the 1940's and I bet there are plenty of gems hidden in there.


When I think coffee cake, I think of blueberry or cinnamon streusel.  This recipe was nothing of those sorts!  It actually reminded me of challah more then a coffee cake, but it was a pleasant surprise.  The bread was only slightly sweet (like challah), but smooth and light due to the meringue filling which melted into the dough.  And with each bite came a taste of chocolate and butterscotch which just topped it all off.  Delicious!    
Yeasted Meringue Coffee Cake
adapted from Jamie's father's recipes from the 1970's
 (makes 2 cakes, but can be halved easily)

Ingredients:

For the dough

4 cups flour
¼ cup sugar
¾ tsp salt
1 package (2 ¼ tsp) active dried yeast
¾ cup 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 tsp salt
½ tsp vanilla
½ cup sugar

For the filling

1 cup chopped pecans, walnuts, hazelnuts, and/or almonds (toasted)
2 Tbsp sugar
¼ tsp cinnamon
½ cup semisweet chocolate chips
½ cup butterscotch chips

Egg wash

1 beaten egg

Directions:

Prepare the dough

In a large mixing bowl, combine 1 ½ cups 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 fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the dry ingredients on low speed; gradually add the warm liquid to the dry mixture, beating until well blended.  Increase mixer speed to medium and beat 2 minutes.  Add the eggs and 1 cup flour and beat for 2 more minutes.
Now switch to the bread hook and mix in enough of the remaining flour to make dough that holds together.  Beat for about 5-10 minutes more until the dough is soft, smooth, and elastic.

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 until double in bulk, 45 – 60 minutes.

Prepare your filling

In a small bowl, combine the cinnamon and sugar.  In a separate bowl, combine the chocolate and butterscotch chips as well as the toasted nuts.

Prepare the meringue

In a large 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, one Tbsp at a time as you beat, until very stiff, glossy peaks form.

Assemble the cakes

Line 2 baking 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 rectangle.  Spread half of the meringue evenly over the rectangle up to about 1/2-inch from the edges.  Sprinkle half of your filling 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, 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.

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

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 a 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.


Sunday, March 20, 2011

Mint Chocolate Delights


 A friend of mine sent me a recipe for mint chocolate chip cookies and said I had to try it out!  I headed straight to the store, but couldn't find the main ingredient- Andes Baking Chips.  I scoured other stores, but had no luck.  I eventually settled on the last two bags of Nestle Toll House Dark Chocolate & Mint Morsels and called it a day.


I usually associate baking with mint with the winter time.  So I thought these cookies would be a great addition to my gift for a friend's bridal shower.  The shower took place outside of Boston where the snow is literally stacked in piles taller than myself.  What better way to beat the cold than to be indoors on a warm cozy couch looking outside at the piles of snow while eating Mint Chocolate Delights?!   My friend is hoping to experiment more in the kitchen, so maybe this recipe will serve as inspiration.


I used the recipe on the back of the bag and couldn't believe how wonderful the cookies turned out.  They were soft and chewy and had just the right balance of chocolate and mint.  I should also mention how wonderful my apartment smelled during baking and several hours after!  I will definitely make these cookies again (probably next winter), but will continue to search for the Andes Chips to give that recipe a try.

Mint Chocolate Delights
adapted from Toll House 
(3 PointsPlus per serving)

Ingredients

2 cups flour
2/3 cup cocoa powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs

Directions

Preheat the oven to 325° F.

Combine the flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt in small bowl.  Beat the butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla extract in large mixer bowl until creamy.  Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Gradually beat in the flour mixture.  Stir in the morsels.  Drop by well-rounded tablespoon onto ungreased baking sheets.

Bake for 11 to 13 minutes or until cookies are puffed and centers are set.  Cool on the baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.  (Serving size = 1 cookie, 3 PointsPlus per serving)

Monday, March 14, 2011

Pumpkin Oat Bread


Pumpkin recipes make me think of Thanksgiving and also cold winter nights; so with winter almost behind us I wanted to make one last use of my giant can of pumpkin puree!  While I originally made this recipe over Thanksgiving with my mother and sister-in-law, it is really great for any time of year.


The bread had the consistency of corn bread, but much more moist.  The pumpkin flavor was not overbearing and the oats added a bit of chewiness.  This recipe would go great on any table whether it's for a brunch or dinner.


Pumpkin Oat Bread
taken from Weight Watchers
4 PointsPlus per serving

Ingredients

1 spray(s) cooking spray, flour-variety recommended   
1/2 cup(s) regular butter, softened   
1 1/2 cup(s) packed light brown sugar     
3 large egg(s), beaten     
2 cup(s) canned pumpkin   
1/4 tsp table salt   
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice, or more to taste   
1 1/2 cup(s) all-purpose flour   
1 1/2 cup(s) uncooked quick oats   
2 1/2 tsp baking soda   
24 half walnut halves   

Directions

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Coat a 10- X 15-inch baking dish with cooking spray.

Using an electric mixer, in a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add eggs and pumpkin; beat well.  Add salt, pumpkin pie spice, flour, oats and baking soda; mix thoroughly.  Pour batter into prepared baking dish and place walnut halves on top so there will be 1 walnut in the center of each piece of cake.  Bake until a toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out clean, about 40 to 45 minutes.

Cool in pan and cut into 24 pieces.  Yields 1 piece per serving. (4 PointsPlus per serving)


This recipe is dog approved!


While Henley gently takes a nibble of the bread...


Her sister, Dylan, takes the opposite approach.


All smiles in the end!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Pinwheel Cookies


To celebrate my boyfriend becoming an American citizen I wanted to make a cookie that truly represented America.  While the chocolate chip cookie is an American staple, I thought it would be fun to incorporate the colors of red, white, and blue into whatever I chose to make.  A multi-color chocolate chip cookie did not sound too appealing, so I thought I'd try my hand in making Pinwheel cookies...with an American twist.


Pinwheel cookies are typically two layers of dough, one chocolate and one vanilla, rolled together to form a swirly looking circle!  I decided to experiment with a traditional recipe and instead of making a chocolate layer I used food coloring to make three layers of red, white, and blue.


I have always had trouble making log cookies actually round.  Whenever I slice them one side goes flat.  The recipe I used offered two helpful hints in order to avoid this pitfall and it actually worked!  


My experiment was successful and my boyfriend enjoyed his "American" Pinwheel Cookies while celebrating his new citizenship!

Pinwheel Cookies
adapted from The Sugar Scientist

Ingredients

3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 1/3 cups sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 tsp cinnamon

Directions

In a large bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt.

Beat butter until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add sugar and beat until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes more. Add eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition, then beat in vanilla. Add flour and beat on low just until combined.

Divide dough in three.  Take 1/3 of the dough and form into a square and wrap in plastic wrap, set aside.  Take another third of the dough and beat while squeezing several drops of red food coloring into the bowl.  Continue beating and adding the food coloring until you are satisfied with the color and it is evenly distributed.  Wrap in plastic wrap and set aside.  Do the same with blue food coloring and the final third of the dough.  Refrigerate the three squares of dough for 30-45 minutes.

Cut each dough square into 2 pieces. Roll out one strip of each dough color into rectangles and place the doughs one on top of the other. (The recipe I used said to roll out the dough in between parchment paper.  I had a bit of trouble doing this, so I rolled right on the dough and was careful of sticking.) Trim the excess dough that hangs over the side.  Place a piece of parchment paper on top of the stack of dough and roll the rolling pin lightly over the doughs to adhere, then peel off top sheet of parchment.  Tightly roll up the dough into a log. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1.  Repeat with remaining strips of dough to form another log.

After an hour remove the logs from the refrigerator and roll each log on the counter several times to prevent the bottom from flattening.  Refrigerate 3 hours more, and then transfer to the freezer to store.  Keep the dough frozen until you are ready to slice and bake.

Preheat oven to 350F and grease two large baking sheets.

Using a sharp knife, slice the dough into 1/4-inch thick slices and place 1 1/2 inches apart on baking sheet.  Bake until the non-colored dough is slightly golden, 9 to 11 minutes.