Sunday, January 29, 2017

Coffee crumb cake

Soft and fluffy coffee crumb cake that is perfect with your favorite cup of joe (or hot chocolate)! This bread-like cake will have you wanting another slice!

Not too long ago, I was helping teach a learn-to-skate class at the rink. We were having a good old time when a teenager carried a little girl over to our class. He set her down on the ice and left. She looked up at me and had tears in her eyes. I asked her if she knew how to march on the ice, and she shook her head. The look of utter fear in this little girl's face was something that shook me to my core. This girl was petrified, and I was going to help her overcome her fear.

Although we had a huge class that day (over 10 kids), I only focused on helping this little girl since she was the only one who couldn't move. We took things very slowly, and I focused on setting small goals in short increments of time. By the end of the 30 minute lesson, she had learned how to march, glide, dip, and properly stand up (after learning how to properly fall down). This little girl's tears and panic melted away and became smiles and laughter. I could not have been more proud of her, and I was thrilled to have helped her overcome her trepidation of the ice.

That little girl's look of terror struck a chord with me, as that was the fear that I had of yeast several years ago when I first started this blog. I avoided anything having to do with yeast and quickly walked by the shelf at the grocery store. And here I am now, baking with yeast and wanting to learn more. Like the little girl at the rink, I've learned to set smaller, achievable goals (with yeast) and work towards those first. Then the bigger experiences won't seem as scary.

I found this book at my local library and wanted to try the coffee cake. Since I didn't need a huge 12"x16" serving (or three 9-inch pans), I cut the recipe into a third so I only had one 9-inch pan's worth. I listed out the full recipe below so feel free to cut it based on your needs.

Coffee crumb cake 
Dough
  • 6 and 14 cups (28 ounces/794 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons (0.5 ounces/14 grams) salt 
  • 6 Tablespoons (3 ounces/85 grams) granulated sugar
  • 5 teaspoons (0.55 ounces/15.5 grams) instant yeast
  • 2 cups plus 2 Tablespoons (17 ounces/482 grams) lukewarm whole or low-fat milk, about 95 degrees F or 35 degrees C
  • 1/2 cup (4 ounces/113 grams) vegetable oil or melted unsalted butter
  • Zest of 1/2 lemon, or 1 Tablespoon lemon extract, optional
Crumb topping
  • 1 cup (4.5 ounces/128 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup (8 ounces/113 grams) light brown sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg, allspice, cloves, cardamom or ground ginger (your choice)
  • 1/2 cup (4 ounces/113 grams) melted unsalted butter
Directions
Make the dough: In the bowl of a stand mixer, mix the flour, salt and sugar together. In a small bowl, sprinkle the yeast on top of the milk and allow it to get frothy, about 5 minutes. Pour the yeast mixture into the bowl with the dry ingredients and mix briefly with a spatula. Add the oil/butter and zest if using.

Make sure the stand mixer has the dough hook attachment. Mix on medium low speed for about 4 minutes and add milk if the mixture is too dry or flour if it's too wet. Increase the speed to medium and mix for another 2 minutes. Your final dough should be soft and tacky but not sticky (it should not stick to the sides or bottom of the bowl).

Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and knead for about 1 minute. Form a ball (with the seam side down) and transfer to a lightly oiled bowl. Cover and refrigerate overnight or up to 4 days.

Remove the dough from the refrigerator and allow it to thaw for 2 hours before you are ready to bake.

Line a 12"x16" pan with a silicone mat or parchment paper (or generously grease three 9-inch round pans). Spread the dough out onto your prepared baking sheet/pan and use your fingertips to press down on the dough to make dimples. If the dough starts to shrink back, let it rest for 20 minutes and stretch and dimple it out again. It may take 3 rounds of dimpling for it to stop shrinking. Cover the pan(s) and allow it to rest at room temperature for about 2 hours or until doubled.

Make the topping: In a medium sized bowl, mix together the flour, sugar, salt and spices. Then pour in the melted butter and stir with a spoon. Using clean hands, mix everything with your fingers until you large clumps form. Sprinkle the crumbs over the dough.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Bake the cake for 15 minutes. Then rotate the pan and bake for another 10-15 minutes or until the crumb is golden. Keep an eye on the cake since your baking time may vary depending upon the type and size of your pan and your oven. The cake is done when the dough is a bit springy to the touch.

Allow the cake to cool for 30-45 minutes before cutting and serving. You can top with fruits, powdered sugar or a simple glaze (powdered sugar and milk or water) if desired.

Leftover cake should be stored, covered, at room temperature or in the refrigerator and will keep for a few days.

Yield: One 12"x16" coffee cake or three 9-inch round coffee cakes

Source: Artisan Breads Every Day by Peter Reinhart

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