Sunday, January 06, 2008
Chocolate Almond Coffee Cake Ring
Saturday, January 6, 2008
It's time for our Saturday morning coffee hour open houses, which we've been doing for over ten years now. Every Saturday morning in January, Jim goes to a bakery and buys a bunch of doughnuts. Most Saturday mornings, I make something else. Sometimes it's more popular than the doughnuts, and sometimes not. Today it was a hit.
I had intended to make Danish, using Rose's recipe from The Pie and Pastry Bible. But the more I read the directions, the more scared I got. They're a lot like making croissants, only more complicated--and it was hard enough to get up my nerve to make croissants (although they actually turned out quite well).
But when I fell victim to Danish-cowardice, I decided that I should at least try something a little bit snazzy. I remembered that my friend Karen had been talking about the coffee cake rings that our mothers used to make, where you roll up the dough, fill it with something, and snip the dough into sections, turning the filled part up. I looked on the internet for something like that, and the first recipe I came across was the almond-chocolate version from Cooks Country. Cooks Country is kind of a down-home version of Cooks Illustrated--a little too down-homey for me, but this recipe sounded intriguing, and, with a filling of chopped bittersweet chocolate, cream cheese, and almond paste, a little more interesting than the rolls my mother used to make.
After you spread the filling on the nice buttery dough, which you've rolled into a rectangle about 9" by 18", you roll up the dough.
Then you turn the rectangle into a ring, and make about ten or eleven partial cuts through the dough.
After you've made the cuts, you gently turn the sections so you can see the chocolate-almond filling on top.
So far, so good. I really don't have a Martha-Stewartish artistic, decorative touch, which is one reason I prefer bread to most other baked products. If breads are going to be beautiful, they do it on their own. They don't require symmetrical arrangements of fruit, like some pies, and they don't need to be deftly iced. They just need to be taken out of the oven. A lot can go wrong with a coffee cake like this. The filling can ooze out and burn, for example. You can cut too deeply into the coffee cake so that it falls apart instead remaining in lovely slices. You can make a mess out of the pieces when you turn them. You can glop on the frosting instead of drizzling it decoratively. None of that happened (except for the frosting glopping, and even that wasn't too bad).
People were very impressed with this outcome, even with the few blobs of frosting (I thinned it a bit and then it drizzled more easily).
My friend Bridget, who is an excellent baker, asked me where I'd bought it. I chose to take that as a compliment, even though I suppose she may have wondered if I'd picked it up at SuperAmerica. My neighbor Barb, a chef and caterer, said the dough was light and tasty. My neighbor Greg asked for the recipe. This week the homemade treat beat out the doughnuts. We'll see about next week.
Posted by Marie at 2:04 PM