Daring Baker’s Challenge – Coffee Cake – Lime Cream with Coconut and Pizza

Daring Baker’s Challenge – Coffee Cake – Lime Cream with Coconut and Pizza

Lime Cream and Toasted Coconut Coffee Cake

Pizza 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.  Since the recipe conveniently makes enough for two coffee cakes, I made a sweet (lime cream and toasted coconut) and savory (pizza of course) version.  Thanks to Ria and Jamie for a great challenge, the dough was great and I can definitely see lots of possibilities for the fillings.

Dough ingredients

Ingredients:

FILLED MERINGUE COFFEE CAKE
Makes 2 round coffee cakes, each about 10 inches in diameter
The recipe can easily be halved to make one round coffee cake

Ingredients
For the yeast coffee cake dough:

4 cups (600 g / 1.5 lbs.) flour
¼ cup (55 g / 2 oz.) sugar
¾ teaspoon (5 g / ¼  oz.) salt
1 package (2 ¼ teaspoons /  7 g / less than an ounce) active dried yeast
¾ cup (180 ml / 6 fl. oz.) whole milk
¼ cup (60 ml / 2 fl. oz. water (doesn’t matter what temperature)
½ cup (135 g / 4.75 oz.) unsalted butter at room temperature
2 large eggs at room temperature

For the meringue:

3 large egg whites at room temperature
¼ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon vanilla
½ cup (110 g / 4 oz.) sugar

Directions:

Prepare the dough:

Dry Ingredients

In a large mixing bowl (had I thought ahead, I would have put this in my mixer’s bowl and saved some clean up) combine 1 ½ cups (230 g) of the flour, the sugar, salt and yeast.

Butter milk water warmed

In a microwave save bowl, combine the milk, water and butter and heat for about 1 minute until warm and the butter is just melted.

Mixing in flour

With an electric mixer on low-speed, gradually add the warm liquid to the flour/yeast mixture, beating until well blended. Increase mixer speed to medium and beat 2 minutes. Add the eggs and 1 cup (150 g) flour and beat for 2 more minutes.

Dough hook

Switch to the dough hook or using a wooden spoon, stir in enough of the remaining flour to make a dough that holds together.

Ready to knead

Turn out onto a floured surface (use any of the 1 ½ cups of flour remaining) and knead the dough for 8 to 10 minutes (less if you give it a good mixing with the dough hook) until the dough is soft, smooth, sexy and elastic, keeping the work surface floured and adding extra flour as needed.

Split the dough

For the pizza version I added 2 tablespoons of Italian spice to the dough as I finished up the kneading.

Pizza version dough

Place the dough in a lightly greased (I used olive oil for the pizza version and vegetable spray for the sweet) 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. The rising time will depend on the type of yeast you use.

Prepare your filling:

Lime and Coconut

1 cup lime cream (I used 2 and it was way too much.) You could also use lemon or lime curd.

1 cup toasted coconut

Pizza version

1/2 cup pizza sauce

2 Roma tomatoes sliced thinly

6 mini or 1 regular bell pepper sliced thinly

1/2 cup shredded Parmesan

1 cup shredded mozzarella

Once the dough has doubled, make the meringue:

In a clean mixing bowl – ideally a plastic or metal bowl so the egg whites adhere to the side (they slip on glass) and you don’t end up with liquid remaining in the bottom – 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 then start adding the ½ cup sugar, a tablespoon at a time as you beat, until very stiff, glossy peaks form.

Assemble the Coffee Cakes:

Line 2 baking/cookie sheets with parchment paper.

Pizza version rolled out

Punch down the dough. On a lightly floured surface, working one piece of the dough at a time (keep the other half of the dough wrapped in plastic), roll out the dough into a 20 x 10-inch (about 51 x 25 ½ cm) rectangle.

With Pizza sauce

Add the pizza sauce in a thin layer with a pastry brush.

Filled

Add tomatoes, peppers and cheeses.  I didn’t use meringue on the pizza version (which contributed to me using way too much on the lime cream version)

Rolling

Now, roll up the dough jelly roll style, from the long side. Pinch the seam closed to seal. Very carefully transfer the filled log to one of the lined cookie sheets, seam side down.   I opted to not make this one a roll and just left it log shaped.

Pizza version ready to bake

Using kitchen scissors or a sharp knife (although scissors are easier), make cuts along the outside edge at 1-inch (2 ½ cm) intervals. Make them as shallow or as deep as desired but don’t be afraid to cut deep.  After the second rising, baste with the egg wash and sprinkle with a little extra Parmesan.

For the Lime Cream with Toasted Coconut:

Lime Cream filled

Spread half of the meringue evenly over the rectangle up to about 1/2-inch (3/4 cm) from the edges. Spread the lime cream filling evenly over the meringue and sprinkle with toasted coconut .

Ready to bake

Here’s where I really messed up.  I used way too much filling and all the meringue, forgetting that I had twice enough because I didn’t use any on the pizza version.  You are supposed to bring the ends of the log around and seal  together, forming a ring, tucking one end into the other and pinching to seal.   I ended up with a very bloated, lime and meringue covered blop which only got more bloated as it rose a second time.  Surprisingly, once it was baked it looked a lot better and tasted great so I guess it wasn’t so bad.

Cover the 2 coffee cakes with plastic wrap and allow them to rise again for 45 to 60 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C).

Brush the tops of the coffee cakes with the egg wash. Bake in the preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes until risen and golden brown. The dough should sound hollow when tapped.

Whole Pizza

Easter Egg Cake Balls

Easter Egg Cake Balls

Easter Egg Cake Balls

Although I don’t quite get it as I guess I’m just not that much of a cake fan, cake balls are very popular around here and I do have to admit these are pretty cute.  I mentioned to college Daughter that I was going to make some and her exact words were “send them here, send them all here” and I’ve made them for several friends, who all seem to love them.  I did have some cheesecake pops at a party recently and those are going to be my next batch as they were amazing.

The basic idea is simple, mush up a cake and icing, roll it and dip in chocolate.  The best site for ideas is Bakerella, she even has a cookbook out just for them.  Previously I made some simple chocolate ones for a birthday party following Bakerella’s instructions.  This time I used a cherry chip cake mix (I usually make my cakes from scratch, but Daughter had left this box of mix here from her last visit so I decided to use it) and some cream cheese icing I had leftover from a birthday cake.

Ingredients

Ingredients:

Cherry Chip Cake mix with eggs and oil (or homemade cake)

1/2 cup chopped maraschino cherries (added to the cake batter for a little extra flavor)

2 cups cream cheese icing (homemade or purchased)

Dipping chocolate white and dark (I prefer Ghirardelli’s candy coating because I think it has the best quality but it’s not always easy to find.  Sam’s Club carries it around the holidays so I stock up but you can also use chocolate melts which you can even get pre-colored)

Cake

First bake the cake and cool completely.

Crumbled Cake

The crumble the cake in a large bowl.

Adding the icing

Add the icing.

Cake and icing mixed up

Smash it together and form into a thick disk – a spatula works but hands work better.  Wrap in plastic and put in the refrigerator for about an hour to stiffen up.

Best spoon for making the balls

Making the eggs

This is a great spoon for making the balls or cookies.  It is a hard plastic with a rubber bottom so the portions are even and you can easily push the dough out.  It comes in several sizes and I’ve seen it at most kitchen stores, the grocery store and even at the dollar store.  For this, I used the Tablespoon size, rolling them into egg shapes and placing them on a cookie sheet.

Eggs rolled

As you can probably tell, I’m not into perfection, I just don’t have time or the patience.  I admire those who do and if you are one of them, you can make them really great.  Some of my eggs aren’t shaped exactly right but they still look pretty egg like and they don’t last long anyway.

Wrap and freeze

Next wrap and place them in the fridge for 10-15 minutes.

Stand

Dipping

Tapping off the excess

Hardening

I have tried two methods of dipping, using a toothpick and putting them on a styrofoam floral stand that I got from the dollar store and just using a fork and putting them on waxed paper.  I find that the fork works better for me but they each have good and bad parts.  In order to get them to stay on the toothpick, I had to freeze them, which then caused the chocolate to crack as it hardened but they seemed to have the best shape if you can keep them on the toothpick.  Any little drips on the bottom can be trimmed with a sharp paring knife.

Fork Dipping

I switched to “warmer” balls on the fork letting them harden on a piece of waxed paper, which seemed to solve the falling off/cracking problem and seemed to be faster.  It sometimes leaves a bit of a flat base, but that is easily trimmed with a sharp paring knife or you can just leave it and serve them with that side down.  I used both white and dark chocolate, adding gel food color to the white to make a couple different colors.  Make sure you keep the chocolate warm, if it starts to thicken heat for a few seconds in the microwave to keep it easier to dip.  When it gets thick it also makes them more likely to crack (I’ve learned these things from the error part of trial and error).  The good news is that I learned the decorating can cover up the cracks pretty well!

Decorating

Here they are after the first round of decorating. Note there are cracks and not so perfect spots, but those will be fixed soon!  I used the spray on color on some of the white ones which made a sort of marbled effect that I liked.   I tried someone’s suggestion for painting corn syrup on then putting sprinkles, but I just didn’t like the way it looked and am not that much of a sprinkle fan anyway so I ended up using the colored white chocolate instead.  Plus, that worked perfectly to fill in any cracks.  I always use a small plastic squeeze bottle when decorating with chocolate, you can get them from Wilton at the craft store or pretty much anywhere and they are very inexpensive.  Just melt the chocolate in a small bowl in the microwave.  Depending on how much you do at a time it can take from 1-2 minutes.  I start with 1 minute, then stir and do 15 second increments until it is melted, then pour it into the squeeze bottle.

Looking Better

Again, those of you who are more creative and have more patience could do a much better decorating job.

Molding and trimming the chocolate baskets

I also used a chocolate mold (from Wilton that I got at Wal-Mart) to make some little baskets.  You just melt the chocolate, put it into the bottom of the mold then put the top.  Using the same sharp paring knife I trimmed off any excess before I unmolded them as sometimes it was hard to judge just how much chocolate to put into the mold – the directions on the package just say fill “half full” but there are no markings so you just have to get a feel for it.

Eggs in Baskets

 

Here are a couple in the baskets.

Lime Cream

Lime Cream

Lime Cream

I love lime, even more than lemon and use it often.  This recipe is kind of  a cross between lime curd and key lime pie filling.  It is essentially a lime custard but with lots of butter and whipped up until it is creamy, inspired by a recipe for Lemon Cream from Dorie Greenspan’s Baking and a recent post from scarpetta dolcetto.  Once completed, this can be used for anything you would normally use a lemon or lime filling for such as tarts, pies, as a cake or cupcake filling, with angel food cake, scones or just on toast and put in a nice jar, it makes a great gift.

Printable Lime Cream Recipe

Ingredients:

1 cup sugar

4 large eggs

1 cup lime juice (about 6 limes)

grated zest from 6 limes (you can use less if you prefer a sweeter result – I like it tart with strong lime flavor)

3 sticks butter softened

Make your own double boiler

If you have a bain marie (fancy name for double boiler) use it, if not, find either two pots that fit inside each other, or you can do what I do to save on dishes, find a pan the will fit your mixer’s bowl.  Fill with a couple of inches of water so that the water doesn’t touch the bottom of the bowl and heat until the water is simmering.

Sugar and lime zest

In the bowl or pan you intend to use, mix the sugar and lime zest together.

Ready to heat

Whisk in the eggs, then the juice.

Start warming the mixture

Place the bowl over the simmering water and whisk until the mixture thickens and reaches 180 degrees.

Thickened

When thickened, place in a mixing bowl with a whisk attachment and begin to whisk until it cools to 140 degrees.

Add butter

Begin adding the butter several teaspoons at a time.  Once all the butter is incorporated, continue mixing on medium to high-speed (as high as you can get without it flying out of the bowl) whisking for 5 minutes.

Cover

Pour into a bowl and cover the surface of the custard with plastic wrap to prevent a skin from forming.  Refrigerate at least 2 hours to set.

Lemon Basil Olive Oil Muffins – taste great and relatively healthy

Lemon Olive Oil Basil Muffins

So far I’ve been dismal in my attempts to be more healthy but today I made progress and it wasn’t even painful.   Don’t worry, I’m not up to tofu yet and my “no carb left behind” lifestyle will surely take time to reform but I’m making baby steps.  These muffins are really good and an improvement over my usual; by my standards these are positively healthy with eggs for protein, olive oil not butter, not too much sugar (which you could replace with Splenda) and whole wheat flour.  Of course, nobody can expect miracles overnight so I stuck with real sugar and a “white whole wheat” from King Arthur Flour.  According to the package it is “100% of the wheat germ and bran” with a “lighter color and milder flavor” which seemed like a good thing for a lemon theme.  They are not “cakey” but more dense, like the texture of a corn muffin but without the corn flavor.  They are sweet enough to eat for breakfast, but not so sweet you couldn’t serve with a meal, especially if you leave off the glaze.

Ingredients

The ingredients are:

  • 4 cups whole-wheat flour
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups sugar (or Splenda)
  • 4 lemons, zested and juiced
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 6 eggs
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh basil chopped finely
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar

Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees.

1.  Mix the flour, baking powder and salt in a large bowl and set aside.

Use zester - bigger strips

Use microplane for finer zest

Juice

2.  Zest and juice the lemons.  Use the zester for one lemon and the microplane for three.  Reserve the juice and zest (fine) of one lemon for the glaze.

Sugar and lemon zest (strips and fine)

3.  In the mixing bowl add the sugar and lemon zest and add the olive oil mixing on high speed.

Sugar, lemon zest and eggs

4.  Add the eggs one at a time.

5.  Add 1/2 the flour mixture, then half the lemon juice mixing on low speed.  Then add the remaining flour mixture and juice.

Batter

6.  Add the basil and mix well.  Of course you could leave this out, but it is surprisingly good, just enough to taste but not overpowering.  You may have to scrape some lemon zest off the beaters, I find it best to use a spatula to do a final mix to make sure everything is well-distributed.

Muffins ready to bake

7.  Place the batter in the muffin tins.  I used mini-muffins and muffin top pans because I like the crispy outside.

Bake for 20-25 minutes until a toothpick stuck in the middle comes out clean.

Mini's baked

Muffin tops baked

Cool

 

Glaze

 

To make the glaze, in a small bowl add lemon juice to the powdered sugar until it forms a fairly thin glaze.  Either use a pastry brush or dip the tops of the muffins into the bowl to coat the tops of each muffin.

 

Glazed

 

Let them sit uncovered for about 1/2 hour and the glaze will soak in and form a thin crust.

 

Served

 

 

Valentines Day Meal:  Chicken baked in pastry crust, pearl couscous in cream sauce and fresh asparagus

Valentines Day Meal: Chicken baked in pastry crust, pearl couscous in cream sauce and fresh asparagus

Chicken in Pastry, Couscous in Cream Sauce and Asparagus

My Valentine has gotten used to being the test dummy, not being able to eat until the pictures are done, having holiday meals on days other than the holiday and best of all, cleaning up my endless messes, all with good humor and little whining so I was quite happy that this meal got the seal of approval!  It is fairly simple, not too many ingredients, doesn’t take too long and didn’t make that much of a mess but it was really tasty.  You can even do part of it ahead of time and be able to finish in less than an hour, with most of that just baking time.  The couscous and asparagus take less than 10 minutes so you can do the chicken ahead of time and just finish up while it bakes.  For dessert see my Tunnel of Fudge Mini-bundt cake recipe.

Ingredients

Ingredients:

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts

1 package puff pastry sheets

6 oz cheese Asiago and/or Gruyere

12 large fresh basil leaves

salt

pepper

1 Tablespoon Italian seasoning

Cut and seasoned

First trim and cut the chicken breasts into approximately equal size pieces, 3-4 per breast and sprinkle with salt, pepper and Italian seasoning.

Brown the chicken

Heat a heavy skillet with 1-2 tablespoons olive oil until it is very hot.  Add the chicken and brown well on each side.  It won’t take long, a minute or two on each side.  Don’t cook it through, just get it nice and brown and don’t crowd the pan, do two batches if it doesn’t fit nicely.  Once the chicken is browned, set it aside in a bowl.

Chicken browned and set aside

Slice the cheese

While the chicken is browning, slice the cheese into strips about 2 x 2 or 2 x 3  inches.  It doesn’t have to be exact.

Dough with sliced cheese

Prepare the dough by unwrapping.  It usually comes with two sheets, each folded over into three parts, so after it is flat, cut each sheet along each fold and once in half to make a total of 12 pieces.  Place a slice of cheese in the center of each piece.

Add basil

Add a basil leaf.

Add chicken

Top with a piece or two of chicken depending on the size, make sure you leave enough room to fold over the dough.

Wrapped up

Fold the dough up over the filling – it doesn’t have to be that pretty on the bottom, just make sure it is sealed well or the cheese will leak out.

Flipped and placed on baking sheet

Place on a baking sheet, flipped over so the bottom is the wrapped portion and the top is flat and bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes until the crust is browned.  If you want to do this ahead, just stop before the baking and wrap the pan in plastic.  You may have to add 5-10 minutes to the baking time if you refrigerate.

Toasted Couscous with Cream Sauce

About 30 minutes after you put in the chicken, start the couscous and asparagus.  For the couscous, here is the recipe, which takes about 10 minutes.

Asparagus

For the asparagus, trim a bunch and place in a microwave safe bowl with about 1 teaspoon of water.  Microwave for 2 minutes.  Heat a skillet over medium heat with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and 1 tablespoon of butter.  Add the asparagus and cook for 3-5 minutes, rolling them over occasionally, depending on how crisp you prefer.

Italian Caprese Sliders – Superbowl Sliders

Italian Caprese Sliders – Superbowl Sliders

Italian Caprese Sliders

Italian Caprese Sliders

I know this isn’t new, but seemed perfect for tomorrow (and it did get an Editor’s Pick in Food52‘s burger contest a while ago).  When I was growing up my father was a true grill man – charcoal only and whatever he was making, there was one beer to splash on the food and one for him!  I on the other hand, love my gas grill (and I think dad has one now too) mostly because I’m lazy and don’t want to mess with the charcoal.  Of course, dad would probably not been caught making “wimpy” sliders and I am generally prone to enormous burgers stuffed with cheese but as I mentioned in a previous recipe for the Bacon Sliders, my husband brought home a “slider” pan which I determined wasn’t worth much, but I did like the sliders so here’s another variation.  If you have the time, it is well worth it to make fresh rolls from either your own or the frozen dough.

1 1/2      lb            ground beef

1             lb            hot Italian sausage

1             tsp          dried Italian seasoning

1             med       onion finely chopped

1                            bell pepper finely chopped

3                            cloves minced garlic

18                          (White Dinner Rolls freshly baked – your recipe or frozen dough best)

8             oz           fresh Mozzarella cheese sliced 1/4 inch thick

4             large      Roma tomatoes sliced in 1/4 in thick slices

36          large         fresh basil leaves stems removed

freshly ground black pepper

3             Tbs         extra virgin olive oil

3             Tbs         balsamic vinegar

Freshly baked rolls

Garlic, Onion, peppers and fresh herbs

Ready to mix

Mix gently

1             Gently but thoroughly mix together the ground beef and ground Italian sausage (removing from the casings if any), along with the Italian spices, chopped onion, chopped Bell pepper and 2 cloves of minced garlic.

Flatten

Use spatula to measure squares

Use spatula to measure squares

Cut squares

Cut entire pan into squares

2             Press the mixture into a jelly roll pan using a rolling pin to make a flat even layer.  Cut the meat into 2″ squares.

3             Grill 2-3 minutes on each side or until cooked through to a temperature of at least 160.

4             If not fresh from the oven, wrap the rolls in foil and warm on the top rack of the grill while the burgers are cooking on their second side.

5             When the burgers are done, place a slice of Mozzerella on each burger and tent with foil while preparing the buns.

6             Whisk together olive oil, balsamic and remaining 1 clove minced garlic

7             Place the burger with cheese on the bottom of the bun, add a slice of tomato and two good sized basil leaves and drizzle each burger with 1 teaspoon of the balsamic/olive oil dressing.