Marionberry, Almond & Honey Coffee Cake

In only the few months since I’ve completed school, I’m finding how I miss the routine challenge of reaching beyond my grasp at something new–something I would never have tried.  This last month I became a member of the Daring Baker’s. I will complete a challenge recipe each month and post it.  I am excited to finally begin this new adventure, to stretch my baking beyond my established parameters, and to engage with other excited food bloggers!

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.

I chose to make a Marionberry, Almond & Honey cake because I know the person who would be eating it.  And he loves Marionberries.  They’re locally grown, and while not in season, they are a welcome sign of spring.  (Cue blossoming cherry trees)!!  This is a wonderfully easy recipe–despite it’s complicated and somewhat sophisticated presentation.

Feel free to play around with fillings; mine was perfectly sweet to my specifications– which means for a breakfasty treat, it wasn’t really all that sweet at all.  This recipe makes two round coffee cakes of about 10 inches in diameter, and can easily be halved.

Filled Meringue Coffee Cake
For the yeast coffee cake dough:
  • 4 cups flour (half all-purpose, half whole wheat)
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 2 1/4  tsp. active dried yeast
  • 3/4 cup whole milk
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 large eggs
For the meringue:
  • 3 large egg whites at room temperature
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/2 cup sugar
For the topping:
  • 1/2 cup chopped raw almonds, toasted
  • 2 Tbs. honey
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 2 cups frozen marionberries (thawed and slightly mashed)

Egg Wash: 1 beaten egg

Confectioner’s sugar for dusting.

Prepare the dough: In a large mixing bowl, combine 1 1/2 cups of the flour, the sugar, salt, and yeast.

In a saucepan, combine the milk, water and butter, and heat over medium until warm and the butter is barely melted.

Gradually stir in the warm liquid to the flour mixture with an electric mixer on low speed. Beat until well blended, about 2 minutes.  Add the eggs and 1 cup flour and beat 2 additional minutes.

Using a wooden spoon, stir in enough remaining flour to make a dough that holds together.  Turn out onto a floured surface and knead for 8 to 10 minutes until the dough is soft, smooth, and elastic.

Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, turning to coat all sides.  Cover the bowl with a kitchen towel and let rise in a warm space until double; about 45-60 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare the filling: In a small bowl, combine the cinnamon, honey, and berries.  Toast the almonds, and set aside to sprinkle over the filling.

Once the dough has doubled, make the meringue:  In a clean mixing bowl, beat the egg whites with the salt, first on low speed for about 30 seconds, and then increase to high. Continue beating until they are foamy and opaque.  Add the vanilla and then start adding the 1/2 cup sugar gradually as you beat, until the eggs are very stiff and have glossy peaks.

Assemble the coffee cakes:  Punch dough down and divide in half.  On a lightly floured surface, working one piece of dough at a time, roll the dough into a 20 x 10-inch rectangle.  Spread half of the meringue evenly over the rectangle up to about 1/2-inch from the edges.  Sprinkle half of the marionberry mixture over the meringue and spread about with a rubber spatula to mix in evenly.

Sprinkle almonds over marionberries.  Roll up the dough starting on the long side.  Pinch the seam closed to seal.  Very carefully transfer log to a round baking sheet, and place seam-side down.  Bring the ends around and seal together, forming a ring.

Use kitchen scissors to make cuts along the outside edge of the dough at about 1-inch intervals.

Repeat with the remaining dough, meringue, and filling.  Cover the two coffee cakes with clean kitchen towels and allow them to rise again for about 45-60 minutes.   Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Brush the tops of the cakes with the egg wash.  Bake for 25 to 30 minutes until risen and golden brown.  Remove from the oven and very carefully remove to a rack to cool slightly.

Just before serving, dust the tops with confectioner’s sugar.  Enjoy!

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