For those of us who do not understand French, “Mets la Main à la Pâte” apparently translates as Yeasted Meringue Coffee Cake (I think), though Google Translate came up with “Put my hands dirty!” which didn’t sound very promising.
This month’s Daring Bakers challenge hosts, Jamie and Ria, are both very good friends and I know Jamie knows her French so I’ll trust her translation..
The March 2011 Daring Baker’s Challenge was hosted by Ria of Ria’s Collection and Jamie of Life’s a Feast. They challenged The Daring Bakers to bake a yeasted Meringue Coffee Cake.
Jamie found this recipe on a piece of yellowed paper in her dad’s collection of clipped out and hand-written recipes from the 1970’s, no source, no date, and when she tried the recipe she fell in love with it.
Our hosts describe the the Mets la Main à la Pâte as a gorgeous brioche-like dough is rolled jellyroll style around a whipped meringue and whatever filling you choose, shaped into a wreath and baked. The coffee cake is light, fluffy, barely sweet, while the meringue melts into the dough as it bakes leaving behind just a hint of sweetness and adding to the perfect moistness of the cake.
The mandatory part of the challenge meant making the sweet yeast dough for the coffee cake and the meringue, but we were free to experiment with the fillings in the coffee cake.
Things have been hectic this month for me and the last thing I wanted was an adventure in baking so I really didn’t deviate much from the give recipe for a change. I just halved the recipe, and added some chai masala to my meringue for a spicy note to my coffee cake. For my filling, I used broken roasted cashewnuts, cranberries and semi-sweet chocolate chips.
I read the recipe in a bit of a hurry it seems, as I got the size of the rolled out dough wrong. Maths wasn't one of strong points in school, but I cannot believe that I managed to get even simple arithmetic wrong! What this meant was that my rolled up dough wasn't long enough for me to shape into a wreath, so I tucked the ends of my roll neatly and baked it as a log.
So it wasn't a success on an aesthetic level, added to shich I seemed to be singularly stumped for styling ideas when it came to taking pictures of it! Let me assure you that the proof is definitely in the eating, and in that area it proved an unqualified success.
You can find the original recipe here.
Yeasted And Filled Meringue Coffee Cake
(Adapted from Daring Baker Challenge, March 2011)
For the yeast coffee cake dough:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/8 cup (2 tbsp) sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/4 tsp active dried yeast
1/2 cup warm milk
60 gm butter, at room temperature
For the meringue:
2 egg whites at room temperature
a large pinch salt
1 1/4 tsp chai masala
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
For the filling:
1/4 cup roasted broken cashewnuts
1/4 cup cranberries
2 tbsp granulated sugar
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
A little milk for brushing over the dough before baking.
Prepare the dough:
In a saucepan, combine the milk and butter and heat over medium heat until warm and the butter is just melted. You can do the kneading by hand, or with an electric mixer, but I used my food processor.
Combine 3/4 cup of the flour, the sugar, salt and yeast in your food processor bowl. Gradually add the warm liquid to the flour/yeast mixture, pulsing until well blended. Add the egg
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 and process for a couple of minutes. Add as much of the remaining flour as required to make a dough that holds together. Turn out onto a floured surface and knead the dough for 8 to 10 minutes until the dough is soft, smooth and elastic, keeping the work surface floured and adding only as much extra flour as needed.
Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, turning to coat all sides. Cover the bowl and let rise until double in bulk (about 45 – 60 minutes or so).
Once the dough has doubled, make the meringue:
In a clean mixing bowl – ideally a 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 the speed to high and continue beating until foamy and opaque. Add the vanilla then start adding the 1/4 cup sugar, a tablespoon at a time as you beat, until very stiff, glossy peaks form.
Assembling the coffee cake:
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Punch down the dough. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough into a 10 x 10-inch square. Spread the meringue evenly over the square up to about 1/2" from the edges. Sprinkle the sugar first, then the cashewnuts, the cranberries and lastly the chocolate chips evenly over the meringue.
Now, roll up the dough jellyroll style, from the side nearest to you. Pinch the seam closed to seal. Very carefully transfer the filled log to the lined cookie sheet, 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. Otherwise, tuck the ends neatly underneath and seal well to form a log.
Using kitchen scissors 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/ log. Cover the coffee cake with plastic wrap and allow it to rise again for 45 to 60 minutes.
Brush the tops of the coffee cake with milk, and bake at 180C (350F) for about 25 to 30 minutes till risen and golden brown.
Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). The dough should sound hollow when tapped. Remove from the oven and very gently loosen the coffee cake from the paper with a large spatula. Cool completely on a rack.
Slice and serve with coffee or tea. (How else would one serve a coffee cake?)This recipe serves 4 to 5 people.
You may choose to dust the cake with powdered sugar or cocoa powder before serving. These are best eaten fresh, the same day or the next day.
I have to confess I was happy to see a yeasted bread (okay, coffee cake) for a change when this month’s challenge was revealed. If it has yeast, to me it’s bread, but this one has butter and eggs so that does make it cake-like like a brioche, but not as rich.
I have never seen a bread/ yeasted coffee cake with meringue inside it and that aspect was what I found interesting about this challenge. I had visions of an eggy mess inside the coffee cake but was pleasantly surprised to see a rather moist bread-like texture with no hint of egg about it.
I am not particularly fond of sweet filled yeasted breads but this one was well liked by everyone here. And the dough produces a sweet bread (yeasted cake) with a really good texture, and softness without the richness one would normally associate with dough of this sort. I will definitely be using this dough to make savoury filled breads.
You really ought to visit the other Daring Bakers some of who have made very unusual and beautifully shaped coffee cakes!
I would like to take this opportunity to mention that a small group of food bloggers have got together to raise some money through an auction to send to the Japanese Red Cross for their earthquake relief work. It would be nice if you could join us by bidding on one or more of the items on offer. Please help us help Japan. Thank you.