“So what is that?” AJ asked as he stumbled out of the bedroom still sleepy from his mid-afternoon nap. He looked suspiciously at my unbaked creation. “It’s a coffee cake. Specifically it’s a yeasted honey lemon olive oil whole wheat red wine meringue coffee cake with dark chocolate and toasted hazelnuts for the Daring Bakers’ Challenge.” Was my very detailed response. AJ’s only response was “Whoa.” I think that sums it up. 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.
As always, I told myself right after reading about this challenge that I would make it WAY in advance. And as always, I ended up making it…the day before the Challenge was due. You’d think I would either get my butt in gear and make it beforehand, or just accept the fact that I am one of those people who just does things at the last minute. In truth I’ve always been a procrastinator, though recently I learned that I am not necessarily a procrastinator so much as one that “actively waits”. I like that term so much better.
This month’s challenge found me “actively waiting” until the day before the challenge and then trying to figure out what I wanted to do with it. In truth, I’ve made yeasted rolled coffee cakes before, though not with a meringue inside, and I wanted to do something a little bit different (don’t I always want to do something a little bit different?).
And of course, AJ’s response of “whoa” was probably accurate. As always, I kept on adding more and more flavors to this coffee cake, until I realized that I had to stop and pull back. Yes folks, this final recipe is “pulled back”. Trust me, I was going to add three or four additional things to the mix, but I had to hold back. Yeah, this is me holding back. Are you scared?
This coffee cake has plenty going on. Way more than your usual coffee cake. I’ve been playing more and more with adding touches of savory notes to my sweets so don’t be surprised when you read the ingredient list and think “What the heck was Irvin thinking?” Because in the end, they all play well together.
I started with trying to adjust the meringue. A straight meringue is sweet but without a lot of subtle notes. I know I wanted to use chocolate and hazelnut in the filling so I landed on making a red wine Italian meringue which adds a nice depth to the chocolate and hazelnuts. It’s sweeter than the original meringue in the challenge, so I left out the additional sugar that it called for in the filling. I also added a few grinds of mixed peppercorn (black, white, pink) on top of the toasted hazelnut and dark chocolate, for a tiny subtle heat and savory note.
For a counterpoint to the sweetness, I used honey, olive oil and lemon zest in the pastry dough, and added a touch of white whole wheat (an albino varietal of whole wheat that is less bitter than actual whole wheat) as well as a tablespoon of flax meal to punch up the nuttiness. The flax meal acts as a faux gluten, which the whole wheat has less of than regular white flour. Also, now I can say the coffee cake is healthy for me. I mean it’s positively full of great stuff, what with the olive oil, flax meal, whole wheat, dark chocolate and red wine.
AJ’s response of “Whoa” was probably a better description of the coffee cake than anything I could tell you. I mean I could go on about how the wine cuts the sweetness and adds a nice undertone of sophistication without making a big show of being there. I could say the dark chocolate and the hazelnuts play off of each other really well, or the lemon and the honey and olive oil all add a little bit to each other, without any one of them coming to the forefront and dominating. I could the mile long ingredient list really does add up to something way more than just what you would expect. But really the best description for the cake is just “Whoa.”
Now excuse me, I’m going to go eat a slice now.
This post was submitted to Yeastspotting, a fab website for all things bread and yeast related!
Honey Lemon Olive Oil Whole Wheat Red Wine Italian Meringue Coffee Cake with Dark Chocolate and Toasted Hazelnuts
The base recipe of this coffee cake is adapted from a recipe that Jamie from Life’s a Feast found on a yellowed piece of paper in her dad’s collection of recipes from the 1970s. There was no source or date. The red wine meringue is adapted from Food and Wine Magazine.
1 1/4 (210 g) cups all purpose flour, divided
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoon yeast
zest of 1 medium lemon, finely grated
2 tablespoons honey
1/3 cup whole milk
1/4 cup olive oil
1 large egg, at room temperature
1/2 cup to 3/4 cup (70 g) white whole wheat flour
1 tablespoon flax meal
Red Wine Italian Meringue
1/2 cup dry red wine
1/2 cup (100 g) sugar
1 1/2 large egg white (45 g) at room temperature
1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
4 oz cream cheese at room temperature
1/2 cup hazelnuts
3 oz dark chocolate (I used 60% cacoa)
finely ground fresh pepper (preferably mixed peppercorns)
One large egg, beaten
4 oz cream cheese at room temperature
3 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar (powdered sugar), sifted
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
3-5 tablespoon milk
1. Place 3/4 cup of all purpose flour, salt, yeast, lemon zest into the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Take a balloon whisk and vigorously stir the dry ingredients together.
2. Place the honey, whole milk and olive oil in a small pan and gently heat up on medium. You want the milk to warm up, but you don’t want the milk to get too hot, just warm enough to dissolve the honey.
3. Turn the mixer on low speed and drizzle the warm milk and honey liquid into the bowl. Once it has all been added turn the mixture on to medium and beat for two minutes. Then add the egg and remaining1/2 cup of all purpose flour. Beat for another two minutes until all the flour is incorporated.
4. Add 1/2 cup of the white whole wheat flour and the flax meal and beat the dough until the flour and meal is incorporated. If you having difficulty getting the dough to incorporate the flour and meal, use your hands and manually knead the flour in. Once all the ingredients are incorporated into a dough, switch the paddle attachement for the dough hook and knead the dough for 10 to 15 minutes on medium, until the dough is smooth and elastic. If the dough starts to stick to the sides and gets too wet, you can add the additional 1/4 cup of white whole wheat flour 1 tablespoon at a time.
5. Take the dough out of the bowl, spray another large bowl with cooking spray, and then place the dough in the bowl. Cover with plastic wrap or a damp kitchen towel and let rise for about an hour, or until the dough has doubled in size.
6. Once the dough has doubled, punch it down and let it rise one more time until double, another 45 to 50 minutes.
7. In the meanwhile as you wait for you dough to rise, prepare your filling by chopping the dark chocolate and placing it aside. Then chop the hazelnuts and place them on a tray and toast them in the oven (or toaster oven if you have one) for 5 minutes at 350˚F. You want the hazelnuts to be golden brown. Because careful you don’t burn them.
8. Once dough has doubled the second time, prepare the red wine Italian meringue. Place the wine and sugar in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer. Cook the wine until it reaches the firm ball stage (248˚F), which should take about 8 to 10 minutes.
9. While the wine is cooking, place the egg white, cream of tartar and salt in a clean bowl of a standing mixer with fitted with a wire whisk attachment. Then beat the egg until it reaches soft peaks.
10. Once the wine has reached the right temperature, turn off the heat and bring the pan over to the egg whites. Turn the mixer onto medium and slowly drizzle the wine syrup into the bowl. The meringue should turn a lovely lavender color. Keep whipping the eggs, and once you have used up all the wine syrup, turn the mixer to high and whip until the meringue becomes shiny, glossy and stiff.
11. Turn the mixer to medium and spoon a tablespoon of the cream cheese into the meringue. Whip the meringue to incorporate the cream cheese and repeat until you have used up all the cream cheese. This will deflate the meringue but don’t worry.
12. Roll the dough out to a 10 inch by 20 inch rectangle on a lightly floured surface. Spread the meringue on top of the dough all the way up to 1/2 inch of the edges. Then evenly sprinkle the toasted hazelnuts on the meringue. Then evenly sprinkle the chopped chocolate on the meringue. Then take a pepper mill and grind an even dusting of finely ground pepper (I did a once over the dough. Don’t be too heavy handed, you just want a dusting).
13. Line a baking sheet with a silpat or parchment paper. Now taking the long end (20 inches) of the dough and roll it like a jelly roll almost to the top. Brush the top edge with a little bit of the egg wash and the seal the dough, pinching the seams together as much as you can careful (without tearing). Then carefully transfer the filled log to the lined baking sheet and wrap the ends together to make a ring. Brushly the ends lightly with the egg wash again and pinch the ends together tightly to form the ring.
14. Then, using kitchen scissors or a sharp knife, make cuts along the outside edge of the ring, at about 1 1/2 inch intervals all the way around. Cover with plastic wrap or a damp towel and let rise again until double in size, about 1 hour.
15. Preheat the oven 10 minutes before you bake it, to 350˚F. Once the ring has doubled in size, brush the ring with egg wash and then bake for 25 minutes or until golden brown and the cake sounds hollow when you tap on it. You may want to check the baking half way through. I found that the meringue started to weep out of the coffee cake and burn (causing nasty smoke to come from my oven). I took the pan out of the oven, scraped up the meringue bits with a heatproof spatula and then put the cake back in the oven. Problem solved.
16. Let the cake cool on the baking sheet for ten to fifteen minutes. Then gently transfer it to a wire cooling rack (I used two spatulas to do the transfer).
17. After the cake has come to room temperature prepare the glaze by placing the cream cheese, confectioners’ sugar (remember to sift it, if you don’t you might have lumps which are a difficult to get rid of) and vanilla in the bowl of a standing mixer. Beat until smooth and add 3 tablespoons of the milk, one tablespoon at a time. You want the glaze to be thin enough to drizzle but thick enough to hold it’s shape. Add more milk to thin it. If you accidentally add too much milk, try thickening it by adding more confectioners’ sugar (just be aware that you’ll also be making it sweeter).
18. Once the glaze is made, pour it into a ziplock bag, seal the bag, snip a corner of it, and then squeeze the glaze over cake from center to outside all the way around. Serve at room temperature.