Monday, November 30, 2009

Apricot, Almond, and Chocolate Spiraled Coffee Cake

From The Art and Soul of Baking

Serves 10 to 12

This gorgeous length of woven, glistening rolls deserves to be the centerpiece at a special brunch or morning gathering. The filling is an almond paste mixture topped with chocolate chips and tart dried apricots soaked in almond liqueur. It’s a large coffee cake, and you can serve up to 16 guests by cutting slices rather than letting guests break off rolls. Don’t worry about leftovers—there won’t be any unless you hide some. If you’ve baked this ahead and plan to freeze it, add the drizzle of sugar glaze only after the coffee cake has been thawed and reheated, or the glaze will soak into the pastry.

1 recipe Rich Breakfast Dough (page 93)

8 ounces dried California apricots
3 tablespoons (1 ½ ounces) water
3 tablespoons (1 ½ ounces)
amaretto (almond liqueur)
7 ounces almond paste, at room temperature
½ cup (3 ½ ounces) granulated sugar
¾ stick (3 ounces) unsalted butter, softened (65° to 68°F)
½ cup (3½ ounces) mini semisweet chocolate chips

Apricot Glaze
3 tablespoons (1 ½ ounces) apricot jam
1 tablespoon (½ ounce) water

Sugar Glaze
½ cup (1¾ ounces) unsifted
confectioners’ sugar
1 teaspoon warm water

Food Processor Fitted with a Metal Blade, Small Saucepan, Silicone or Rubber Spatula, Medium Bowl, Rolling Pin, Pastry Brush, Chef’s Knife, Baking Sheet, Silicone Mat, Large Metal Spatula, Cooling Rack, Two Spatulas or a Cake Lifter, Serrated Knife (Optional)

1 Plump the apricots for the filling: Place the apricots in the bowl of the food processor and process until they are chopped into tiny pieces (or use an oiled chef’s knife to chop them very finely). In the small saucepan, heat the water and amaretto over medium heat just until it begins to simmer. Remove from the heat and add the chopped apricots. Let the mixture sit for about 5 minutes, stirring several times with a spatula, until the liquid has been completely absorbed. Transfer to the medium bowl to cool while you prepare the rest of the filling.
2 Make the filling: Cut or break the almond paste into 12 to 15 pieces. Place the almond paste and granulated sugar in the bowl of the food processor and process for 10 to 15 seconds, until the almond paste is cut into tiny pieces. Add the softened butter and process for 25 to 30 seconds, until the mixture is blended and smooth and forms a large ball. The filling will be very thick.
3 Shape the dough: Turn the dough out of the rising tub or bowl onto a work surface dusted with flour. Press down firmly to expel some of the air bubbles, but don’t knead the dough again. Dust the dough with flour and roll into an 11 by 15-inch rectangle. Position the dough so that one of its long sides is parallel to the edge of your work surface. Brush any remaining flour from the surface and underside of the dough. Spread the almond filling in a thin layer over the dough, leaving a 1-inch border along the long side of the dough opposite you. Sprinkle the plumped apricot pieces over the filling as evenly as possible. Do the same with the mini chocolate chips.
4 Roll up the dough: Beginning with the long edge closest to you, roll the dough into a cylinder, gently tucking and tightening as you go. Wet your fingers and rub a thin film of water along the empty border. Finish rolling the dough onto the border. Roll the dough backwards so that the seam is facing upward and pinch all along it to seal the dough. Turn the seam to face away from you and, using the tip of the chef’s knife, cut the dough into slices at 1½-inch intervals, cutting only ¾ of the way across the roll so the seam is still intact—all the slices should be attached along a “spine.” Gently lift the log of dough and center it on the prepared baking sheet, seam or “spine” down. Gently twist each slice away from the spine and lay it nearly flat on the sheet (the slices will overlap slightly and won’t lie completely flat). Alternate the direction of the twists, one slice to the right, one slice to the left, until you reach the end. At first it will seem as though the roll is too long for the pan, but keep overlapping and you’ll find you have room at the top and bottom of the coffee cake.
5 Proof the dough (second rise) : Cover the dough loosely with plastic wrap or a damp lint-free towel and allow to rise until it is almost doubled in size and looks like it has taken a deep breath, 40 to 60 minutes.
6 Bake the coffee cake: Preheat the oven to 375°F and position an oven rack in the center. Bake the coffee cake for 20 to 25 minutes, until golden brown on the top and bottom (check the bottom by lifting the coffee cake slightly with a large metal spatula). Transfer to a cooling rack.
7 While the pastry is baking, make the apricot glaze: Heat the apricot jam and water in the cleaned small saucepan over medium-low heat, stirring with a silicone or rubber spatula to blend, until hot and fluid. When the cake is out of the oven and on the rack, rewarm the glaze and brush it over the cake. Cool for 15 minutes, then apply another layer of the glaze. Allow the coffeecake to cool an additional 20 minutes before adding the sugar glaze.
8 Make the sugar glaze: In the cleaned medium bowl, stir the confectioners’ sugar and warm water vigorously with a silicone or rubber spatula until there are no lumps remaining, adding a few more drops of water if needed. Use a fork to drizzle the glaze over the pastry, or transfer the glaze to a resealable plastic bag and squeeze it into one corner. Snip off the corner with a pair of scissors and pipe lines decoratively across the coffee cake. Use two spatulas or a cake lifter to transfer the coffee cake to a serving platter. Serve warm or room temperature. Let guests tear off rolls, or slice with a serrated knife.

The coffee cake can be stored, uncovered at room temperature, for 1 day. For longer storage, cover with plastic wrap and leave at room temperature for another day, or store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Reheat in a 375°F oven for 8 to 10 minutes, until warmed through.

Getting Ahead
Prepare the coffee cake through Step 4, then cover loosely with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. The coffee cake will continue to rise slowly through the night. The next day, let it sit at room temperature for 1 hour before baking.

The baked and cooled coffee cake can be frozen, wrapped tightly in 2 layers of plastic wrap, for up to 2 weeks—do not add the sugar glaze until the day you serve the coffee cake. To thaw, set on the counter until it reaches room temperature, about 2 hours. Reheat as directed above.

Rich Breakfast Dough

Makes about 1 ½ pounds A leaner version of brioche dough, this can be used for all those wonderful, yeasted breakfast breads you love, like sticky buns and coffee cake. Classic brioche, while delicious, is unnecessarily rich when paired with flavor-packed fillings and toppings. Despite the reduced amount of eggs and butter, this dough is still soft and easy to work with, and it bakes into a tender, flavorful partner for all manner of fillings, both sweet and savory.

½ cup (4 ounces) warm whole milk (110° to 115°F)
¼ cup (1 ¾ ounces) sugar
1 ½ teaspoons active dry yeast, or
1 ¹⁄8 teaspoons instant yeast
1 large egg plus 1 egg yolk, at room temperature
2 ½ cups (12 ½ ounces) bread flour or unbleached all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon salt
1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, very soft (not melted)

Stand Mixer Fitted with a Dough Hook Attachment, Whisk, Silicone or Rubber Spatula, 10- to 12-inch Straight-Sided Translucent Plastic Tub or Mixing Bowl, Bowl Scraper

1 Mix and knead the dough: Combine the warm milk and sugar in the bowl of the stand mixer and sprinkle the yeast over the top. Whisk by hand to blend well. Let the mixture sit for 5 to 10 minutes, until the yeast is activated and foamy or bubbling. Add the egg and yolk and whisk by hand until well blended. Stir in the flour and salt with a silicone or rubber spatula. Attach the dough hook and knead on low speed for 2 minutes. The dough may look ragged at this point, but don’t worry—the addition of butter will smooth it out. Increase the speed to medium and knead for 1 minute. With the mixer running, add the soft butter, 1 tablespoon at a time, allowing each addition to blend in before adding the next. Once all the butter has been added, decrease the speed to medium-low and continue to knead for 5 to 6 minutes longer, until the dough looks soft and silky.
2 Rise the dough (First Rise) : Lightly butter or oil the tub or bowl, scrape the dough into the tub, and brush the surface of the dough with a little butter or oil. Cover with plastic wrap or a damp lint-free cotton towel and let the dough rise until doubled, 1 to 1 ½ hours. If you are using a tub, be sure to mark the starting level of the dough with a pencil or piece of tape so it’s easy to tell when the dough has doubled. At this point, the dough is ready to be punched down and used in your recipe of choice.

The dough can be punched down and refrigerated overnight. Wrap in plastic, leaving a bit of wiggle room for when the dough continues to expand in the refrigerator, or place in a bowl large enough to allow it to expand; cover with plastic wrap. (If you don’t leave room for expansion, the dough will burst through the plastic wrap.)

Getting Ahead
You can freeze the dough for up to 1 month. Punch the dough down, wrap in plastic and place in a resealable plastic freezer bag. To thaw, refrigerate overnight, or place on the counter for 2 hours, or until room temperature. Continue with your recipe of choice.

What the Pros Know
Be sure the butter is very soft before beginning, or you’ll have cold lumps of butter in the dough. If this happens, cover the dough and let it sit at room temperature for 20 to 30 minutes, until the butter has softened, then continue kneading.

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