Summer is here. Bake something summery :)

March 26, 2011

The DB Challenge: Meringue Coffee Cake with Dulce de Leche, Salted Pistachios, Cranberries and Chocolate

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.

Another month, another DB challenge. I always look forward to finding out what the challenge is and I'm always extremely happy with it. This time we were to make a coffee cake according to a recipe which Jamie found on a piece of yellowed paper in her dad’s collection of clipped out and hand-written recipes from the 1970’s without any source or date. I think the old recipes work the best (even though I want to make and try as much new things as possible) and that's a double true with this one. And again I immediately started thinking about summer and spring (I do this all the time right now). However, it's not the best season for my eyes, nose and skin. Trees and flowers are in blossom now and I sneeze, my nose is blocked (hay fever is sooo unpleasant!), my eyes are watering and my skin is itchy. So what should I do to feel better? Of course, make something sweet, eat it and feel great!

The mandatory items were the sweet yeast dough for the coffee cake and the meringue. The filling was in our hands. In my country there is a saying "Hunger is the best cook!". I absolutely believe in this so when I'm trying to think up what to make/bake I'm always hungry. I don't know, I just have the best ideas I could possibly have and it simply works for me :) I had hundreds of ideas for the filling and finally I came up with this: dulce de leche, roasted salted pistachios, dried cranberries and dark bitter chocolate. Dulce de leche is sweet caramel sauce, pistachios with their specefic wonderful flavour highlighted by roasting are slightly salted to balance the sweetnest of dulce de leche, cranberries are juicy and a little tangy and dark bitter chocolate adds wonderful chocolate taste without being overly sweet.

The term coffee cake refers to a cake that is supposed to be served with a cup of coffee. They don't have to contain coffee but usually contain nuts, fruit and spices (in my case it's great sweet aromatic cardamom). They can have a crumble topping (streusel), glaze or something similar. This type of cakes is very common in Europe - in my country it's extremely popular and so is in Germany, Poland, Austria and other countries. There are so many varioations it's pretty hard to choose the best. This coffee cake is one of the best I'd say. Give it a try and you'll see.

Dulce de leche (pronunciation here) is something I can eat every day (fortunately I don't otherwise I would be genormous :D). Here's something more about it (from Wikipedia): It literally means "candy made of milk," and it is prepared by slowly heating sweetened milk to create a product that derives its taste from caramelised sugar. Its origin is widely debated and it remains popular throughout Latin America, where it is known by this name in Argentina, Uruguay, Bolivia, Paraguay, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, and Costa Rica; in Chile, Ecuador and Panama (where it is known as manjar); in Peru and Colombia (where it is known either as manjar blanco or arequipe depending on regional variations); in Mexico and Nicaragua (where it is known as cajeta); and in Brazil (where it is known by its Portuguese name doce de leite). The traditional way how to prepare dulce de leche is by slow simmering of milk and sugar. You have to stir constantly until the sugar is dissolved, milk is thickened and the color is golden brown. The prep time is extremely long (usually about 3-4 hours). The other way is boiling a can of sweetened condensed milk for 3-4 hours - this doesn't require stirring at all because the can is closed (don't open it in any way!). I've tried both ways and I can't tell a difference between the one from can and the completely homemade one. Well, yeah, there is one difference in fact. You'll save 3 hours of your life with the "can" method. So, yeah, I prefer this one. Or you can buy ready-made dulce de leche if available (which is not everywhere).

This coffee cake is filled with meringue and a filling of choice. The meringue beautifully melts into the yeast dough and makes it moist and soft. I flavoured mine with pure vanilla sugar to add a touch of this fantastic spice to the dough.. In my opinion vanilla is the best spice in the world :D Okay, vanilla and cinnamon and cardamom and ... okay, I love all spices but mostly I use vanilla (it's so versatile). My second "spice" choice was cardamom as I'm fond of this one, too. The trickiest part for me though, was the shaping. I used quite a lot of filling as I hate dry unfilled coffee cakes/rolls/whatever and therefore the log was pretty heavy and hard to move with. Fortunately, it went well in the end (no holes in the dough and no filling runing away from me :D) and it became oh-so much bigger during baking. I have to say it was quite flat, but I guess that's because of the amount of the filling. Nevertheless, the taste was amazing!

The recipe is the one with my twists and changes, filling and so on. For the original recipe visit The Daring Kitchen.

Dulce de Leche:
1 can (aprox. 400g) sweetened condensed milk
Coffee Cake Dough:
260g all-purpose flour
25g sugar
1 tsp ground cardamom
¼ tsp salt
1/2 package (4g) active dried yeast
90ml whole milk
30ml water
55g unsalted butter
1 large egg at room temperature
150g dulce de leche
50g dried cranberries
50g shelled natural pistachios
70g dark chocolate, chopped (at least 55% cocoa)
1.5 large egg whites at room temperature
a pinch of salt
20g pure vanilla sugar
35g granulated sugar

Dulce de Leche: The day before you want to make the coffee cake fill a large pot with water. Put the can into the pot of water (the water should totally cover the can at all times - there should be at least 4cm of water above the can). Bring the water to boil. Then cover and let it simmer over low heat for about 3.5 hours. Make sure the can is under water all the time! I control mine every 30 minutes and add water as needed. Remove the can from the water (don't use your hands - it's extremely hot!), and place on a rack to cool completely overnight. Open the can the next day and quickly mix the dulce de leche (one part will be liquid, the other is firm) with your electric mixer until smooth and creamy. Refrigerate until ready to use.
Coffee Cake Dough: In a large mixing bowl, combine 100g of the flour, the sugar, ground cardamom, 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 lukewarm liquid (40-50C) to the flour/yeast mixture, beating until well blended. Increase mixer speed to medium and beat 2 minutes. Add the egg and 65g flour and beat for 2 more minutes. Using a wooden spoon, stir in enough of the remaining flour (95g) 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, sexy and elastic, keeping the work surface floured and adding extra flour as needed. I added all the remaining flour and the tried using as little flour as possible. 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.
Filling: Roast the pistachios on a pan, chop them and mix with 1/2 tsp salt. Soak the dried cranberries in boiling water for at least 20 minutes.
Meringue: In a clean mixing 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 sugar then start adding the granulated sugar, a tablespoon at a time as you beat, until very stiff, glossy peaks form. Refrigerate until ready to use.
Assembling: When the dough has doubled, punch it down. On a lightly floured surface roll out the dough into a 50 x 25 cm rectangle. Spread the meringue evenly over the rectangle up to about 1cm from the edges. Using a teaspoon, drizzle the meringue with dulce de leche evenly. Sprinkle the pistachios, dark chocolate and cranberries evenly over the dulce de leche. Now, roll up the dough jellyroll style, from the long side. Pinch the seam closed to seal. Very carefully transfer the filled log to a 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. Using kitchen scissors or a sharp knife (although scissors are easier), make cuts along the outside edge at 3cm intervals. Make them as shallow or as deep as desired but don’t be afraid to cut deep into the ring. Cover the coffee cake with tea towel and allow it to rise again for 45 to 60 minutes. Brush the top of the coffee cake with the egg wash (made from the lefover egg yolk and egg white). Bake in the preheated oven to 210C for 10 minutes, then lower the temperature to 180C and bake for another 15-20 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 sheet onto the table. Very gently loosen the coffee cake from the paper with a large spatula and carefully slide the cake off onto cooling rack. Allow to cool. Drizzle with remaining dulce de leche.
  • Make sure the butter-milk liquid is neither too hot nor too cold. It should be lukewarm otherwise it would either kill the yeast or not activate it.

    Yet another extremely tasty challenge. Like any bread or this specific type of coffee cake it's best the day it's made. I think it tastes great both cold and warm from the oven (when warm it's better in my opinion). I have to say I ate 5 large slices in one sitting, my sister ate 4 (I even skipped lunch because of this :D). After less than 1 hour there was only one poor slice left (so I ate it for breakfast the other day). I love dulce de leche so this was an irresistible coffee cake for me. Salted pistachios provided the prefect crunch, dark chocolate brought some bitterness to the sweet wave and cranberries added wonderful juicy kick. Yeast dough is something I've known since my childhood and it's the most common dough in my country so I just have to love it. This one is fantastic! Light, airy, full of cardamom and vanilla, moist...terrific! Just find the time and make it asap :)

    Linked to:
    A Themed Bakers Sunday


    1. Yours turned out beautifully! I love the colors on it.

    2. Wow that look gorgeous particularly the combination u have made is my fav as well.. so I am simply drooling at ur pictures and topping.. hats of to ur work .. Ur pictures are gorgeous as well. Cannot wait to post mine tomm.. :)


    3. What fantastic photographs you have and the flavour profile of caramel, pistachios, cranberries, dark chocolate and cardamom that is so so delicious I love cardamom and caramel this would be a tasty cake for me. Great work on this challenge.

      Cheers from Audax in Sydney Australia.

    4. Your cake is making me drool!! Ilove the filling - and that topping is just calling to be licked up! You did an amazing job on this challenge! Thank you for sharing!!

    5. Wow - what an amazing flavor combination you chose - I love each of the elements, so together they must have been amazing! And your photos are awesome. Really great job on the challenge!!

    6. Wow, the flavor combination sounds delicious and the dulce de leche is making me drooool! Lovely pictures.

    7. What a fantastic filling flavor. It sounds deluxe and looks so yummy!
      Best, Sandie

    8. I'm drooling!! You have no idea how much I love dulce de leche made from boiled condensed milk! I have to try this filling soon! Great post and stunning photos! Great job!

    9. Dulce de leche.. pure decadence.

    10. The Dulce de leche drizzled on top with the cranberries looks gorgeous!

    11. Heather Lynne: Thank you!

      Pavithra: I've just seen yours and it's fantastic! Thank you :)

      Audax: Thank you :) I really appreciate it because you always come up with something extraordinary, so this means a lot to me :)

      Ruth H.: You're welcome :) Thank you for so nice comment!

      shelley c.: Thank you! I love them on their own, too, so I was like "It should work together as well" and it did :D

      Namratha: Thank you :) I'm a dulce-de-leche lover, too :D

      crumbsoflove: Sandie, thank you a lot :)

      Renata: Thank you, Renata :) Dulce de leche is like from another world (nothing is so good :D). Let me know how you like it when you try it out :)

      Rachel: I totally agree with you :D

      Rochelle: Thank you :)

    12. WOW, dulce de Leche, I love your recipe, I have to try it. Wonderful job

    13. HOLY COW!!!!!! My mouth is watering. What a great combination of flavors and even better photography! I am in awe.

    14. love the flavor combination! great job!

    15. What an interesting combination of ingredients you chose for the filling. And the cake looks beautiful!

    16. What an amazing flavor combination! Great job on this challenge :)

    17. Love your flavour combination and I think you hit the ball out of the park with the dulce le leche. Truly delicious!!

    18. INMA: Thank you! Let me know how you like it when you try it out :)

      Ashlae, Bourbonnatrix, Simona, thedaintyapron: Thank you so much for you nice comments :)

      Deeba PAB: Thank you, Deeba! I love dulce de leche so I just had to use it :D

    19. lovely combo..just love the flavours!!

    20. Love the flavour combination! It's so perfect!
      Just AMAZING!

    21. s, Manu: Thank you for your nice comments :)

    22. Looks gorgeous, not to mention delicious! WOW, that is some cake. I wish I had a big piece right now with my coffee!

    23. I'm so impressed with how much work has gone into this cake. It looks amazing.

    24. Carol @ There's Always Thyme to Cook: Thank you :) I'd love to give you that pice, unfortunately there's nothing left anymore :)

      Corina: Thank you! It wasn't so diffucult after all, but did take quite a lot of time (baking and waiting included) :)

    25. Wow, this is just so rich and perfect!


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