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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 month’s challenge was an adventure in yeasted dough. For this yeasted meringue coffee cake, a brioche-like dough is rolled jellyroll style around a whipped meringue and flavorful filling. The dough is then carefully shaped into a wreath and baked. While baking, the true magic happens – the meringue melts into the dough and creates a perfectly tender and superbly moist cake.

The only mandatory item was that we make the sweet yeast dough for the coffee cake and the meringue. The additional filling ingredients were left open to the creativity of each individual baker.

I’ve really tried to make a commitment to baking with only whole grains this year, so I altered the recipe to reflect this choice. I’ve also been challenging myself to use up ingredients I already have on hand rather than going out and buying all new stuff, so after going through the pantry, freezer, and fridge I decided on a dough made with a mixture of spelt flour and almond meal and a filling comprised of chopped almonds, dates, cinnamon, and dark chocolate chunks.

With ingredients in hand, I set to work on the coffee cake and everything was going great up until the rolling of the dough. As I rolled the dough, meringue began oozing out all over my workspace. I tried wiping and cleaning up as much meringue as I could so that I could properly seal the jelly roll, but it was quite a mess! Then I started to try and shape the wreath but with all the meringue everywhere and a lumpy jellyroll of dough I decided the wreath was a lost cause, so I just shaped the jellyroll into a loaf by pinching up the ends of the dough. I also didn’t really get much rise out of the second rise time, and that could be due to any number of reasons (not giving it enough time, a really humid kitchen, the whole grains, other substitutions, plain ol’ bad mojo…) – so basically, my loaf was a bit flat and squatty. I was feeling really disheartened as I put the misshapen loaf in the oven and even considered just throwing it out in frustration, but I figured I had already come to far to throw in the towel. With that, I put the loaf in the oven and crossed my fingers that it would at least be edible.

Coffee Cake Close-Up

Well, I’m happy to report that this recipe did not disappoint. Even with all my various snafus, the coffee cake emerged from the oven tender, moist, and utterly delicious. I was actually a little embarrassed to serve it, so I sliced it up before putting it on the table and then grudgingly showed my husband a picture of what it was supposed to look like. After tasting it he declared that he would rather it taste as good as it did then it be the perfect shape, so my confidence was restored and we proceeded to eat half the loaf! This is some seriously good stuff! I definitely want to try the recipe again and try to correct the mistakes I made this time.

You can download a printable PDF of the challenge recipe right here.

Kathlyn of Bake Like a Ninja was our Daring Cooks’ March 2011 hostess. Kathlyn challenges us to make two classic Peruvian dishes: Ceviche de Pescado from “Peruvian Cooking – Basic Recipes” by Annik Franco Barreau. And Papas Rellenas adapted from a home recipe by Kathlyn’s Spanish teacher, Mayra.

This month’s challenge provided the Daring Cooks the opportunity to dish up some exciting Peruvian cuisine. The first option was to try our hand at making ceviche. Ceviche is typically made with fresh fish or seafood that is marinated in citrus juices. The citric acid in the juice “cooks” the fish – either partially or completely, depending on how long it is marinated. The second option was to create papas rellenas. This traditional Peruvian dish is comprised of a potato “dough” that is stuffed with a filling (usually made with beef) and then deep fried. The dish is also usually accompanied with a “salsa criolla.”

For the challenge we had to make at least one of the aforementioned Peruvian dishes. Always a fan of the carbs, I opted to make the papas rellenas. For the filling I used a vegetarian recipe that was provided by our hostess. The recipe for the vegetarian filling was really wonderful, and would be great just served as a dish on its own. I also chose not to fry my papas rellenas and baked them instead. I was really nervous about having to bread all of these little potato balls; breading and I have not always meshed (use the tempura challenge as a case in point). I usually end up with globs of gooey breading on my plate and fingers, so this time around I read up on some breading techniques, and I’m happy to report that they worked brilliantly. I am now a breading master (at least more so that I was before this challenge). I do have to admit, these little guys are truly a labor of love. It took me a very long time to stuff, shape, and bread all of the dough balls, so if you plan on making these be sure to allot yourself plenty of time. In the end though, I have to say they were definitely worth it. I loved the crunchy outer texture, and as our host recommended, they are definitely best served with the salsa criolla.

This challenge certainly provided a great introduction to Peruvian cuisine, and I hope to have the opportunity explore some more Peruvian dishes in the near future.

You can view the recipes used after the jump. Read the rest of this entry »

The February 2011 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Mallory from A Sofa in the Kitchen. She chose to challenge everyone to make Panna Cotta from a Giada De Laurentiis recipe and Nestle Florentine Cookies.

February was a whirlwind of month with lots of baking projects going on, and while I actually completed this challenge a few days before the deadline I got a case of Oscar fever and completely forgot about posting until now. This month’s challenge was to make a creamy Panna Cotta along with a batch of Florentine Cookies. Our host gave us recipes for a vanilla and chocolate Panna Cotta. We were encouraged to play around with these base recipes and challenged to get creative with how we garnished them. I wanted to do a vegan version, so I set out to find a recipe that would work with what ingredients I had on hand. I got super stoked when I saw a recipe for a soy milk Panna Cotta in the Great Chefs Cook Vegan cookbook. I don’t usually keep soy milk around, so I used what I had on hand, which in this case was hemp milk. The reason this is important to note, is that while the recipe for the panna cotta set up nicely and tasted good, there was a little bit of an issue with how it looked. I’m not sure what happened, but it looked like the hemp milk had separated so there was a bit of a “cloudy” look to the final Panna Cotta. I don’t know if this occurred due to the particular brand of hemp milk I used or the fact that it wasn’t soy or something else entirely (perhaps liquid from the fresh fruit?), but it was a little disappointing to say the least. The Florentine recipe I used however was excellent, and they came out quite tasty. For the decorations I chose to make little agar agar fruit jellies inspired by Nature Insider. These turned out awesome and were quite the hit at the dinner table.

Since I’m late and pressed for time, I’m just going to provide the links to the recipes I used along with any alterations I may have made.

Soy Milk Panna Cotta from Great Chefs Cook Vegan
As previously mentioned, I used hemp milk in place of the soy milk. I also used 2 teaspoons of pure vanilla extract instead of the vanilla bean. I threw in some fresh fruit into the glass before pouring in the Panna Cotta, and I would probably omit that next time. I figured they would sink, but some stayed right up at the top and just didn’t look all that attractive.

Florentine Cookies from Strawberry Pepper
I omitted the orange zest and used whole wheat flour in place of the all-purpose. I also chose to use the chocolate to sandwich the cookies together, rather than drizzle it on top.

Fruit Jellies from Nature Insider
Instead of water, I made a half batch (which is more than you need) of the vanilla muscat sauce included with the Panna Cotta recipe and used that as the liquid. I did not add any additional sweetener, but if I were to do it again I would definitely add some. Granted, I neglected to taste the sauce before adding the agar-agar, but once they were set they were not very sweet at all.

It still needs some work, but maybe one day it will turn into something a little more visually appealing.

If you are interested in the original challenge recipes you can download them in a printable PDF here.

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