For a couple of weeks, I had been reminiscing about the Danish Kringle at John Neilsen’s Bakery in Seattle. And although I knew that the yeasted meringue coffee cake presented for the Baker’s Challenge was not the same confection as that slice of Heaven, I decided to borrow some of the flavors.
The John Neilsen’s pastry contains both an almond filling and a pastry cream. Since meringue was already part of the challenge, I omitted the cream and added some raisins for additional texture and sweetness. The secret ingredient is cardamom. Just a sprinkling over the filling adds an extra dimension that most people won’t be able to place. I believe it is this spice that takes this coffee cake past ordinary to special.
Almond Meringue Coffee Cake
Coffee Cake Dough
This recipe makes enough for two coffee cakes.
- 4 cups (600 grams) flour
- 1/4 cup (55 grams) sugar
- 3/4 teaspoon (5 grams) salt
- 1 package (7 grams) active dried yeast
- 3/4 cup (6 ounces) whole milk
- 1/4 cup (2 ounces) water
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter at room temperature
- 2 large eggs at room temperature
- 3 large egg whites at room temperature
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
- 1/2 cup (110 grams) sugar
Adapted from the Otey Family Cookbook
- 1 cups blanched almonds, toasted
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1 teaspoon pure almond extract
- 2 large egg whites, lightly beaten
- large pinch of kosher salt
- 1 cup golden raisins
- 1/2 teaspoon cardamom
- 1 beaten egg
- powdered sugar for dusting (optional)
MAKE ALMOND FILLING
Put the almonds, sugar and butter in the work bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade. Process until the almonds are finely ground, stopping to scrape the bowl as needed. Add the almond extract and 1/4 cup of the beaten egg white and process to mix. Pack the filling into an airtight container and store in the refrigerator until needed. Bring to room temperature before using. The filling can be made up to a week ahead and kept chilled.
MAKE THE DOUGH
In a large mixing bowl, combine 1 1/2 cups of flour, the sugar, 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 warm liquid to the flour/yeast mixture, beating until well blended. Increase mixer speed to medium and beat two minutes. Add the eggs and 1 cup flour and beat for 2 more minutes.
Using a wooden spoon, stir in enough of the remaining flour to make a dough that holds together. Turn out onto a floured surface (use any of the 1 1/2 cups of flour remaining) 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.
Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl, turning to coat all sides. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and a kitchen towel and let rise until the dough doubles in bulk, 45-60 minutes. The rising time will depend on the type of yeast and the temperature of use.
Once the dough has doubled, make the meringue. In a clean metal 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 then start adding the 1/2 cup sugar as you beat, until very stiff, glossy peaks form.
ASSEMBLE THE COFFEE CAKE
Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
Punch down the dough and divide in half. 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 1/2 cm) rectangle. Spread half of the meringue evenly over the rectangle up to about 1/2 inch (3/4 cm) from the edges.
Pipe 2 strips of almond filling (approximately 1/2 of the filling total) along the length of the dough. Sprinkle the dough with 1/2 of the raisins and sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon of the cardamom.
Roll up the dough jellyroll 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. 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 (scissors are easier), make cuts along the outside edge at 1-inch (2 1/2 cm) intervals. Make them as shallow or as deep as desired, but don’t be afraid to cup deep into the ring.
Repeat with the remaining dough, meringue and filling.
Cover the two coffee cakes with plastic wrap then a kitchen towel and allow them to rise again for 45 to 60 minutes. Brush the tops of the coffee cakes with the egg wash.
When it’s was ready to bake, mine looked like this.
The next time I make this, I will make my cuts more toward the top of the coffee cake so the filling doesn’t ooze out the sides so much. Not that it was bad, I just think it would be prettier.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Bake in a preheated oven for 25 to 30 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 sheets onto the table. Very gently loosen the coffee cakes from the paper with a large spatula and carefully slide the cakes off onto cooling racks. Allow to cool.
This coffee cake is not overly sweet and has a delicious nuanced flavor. It was a big hit with the kids in my neighborhood, especially when served slightly warm. I did another variation with chocolate and chopped roasted almonds paired with the almond filling (see the last photo) and that was also extremely popular.