I include below an instruction, at the defining moment in making this yeasted coffee cake, to “Take a deep breath, and pour the cream [a whole cup] over the [as yet unbaked] coffee cake.” The cream baking on the sugared dough creates the lightest layer of caramel, while a bit of cream finds its way under the dough, putting just a suggestion of custard on the bottom. The concept of creating an oven baked custard on top -- some traditional recipes include an egg beaten with the cream -- comes from Germany. My addition of almond paste to the topping makes it perfect for a holiday breakfast. Speaking of which . . . this can be prepared up to the final rise, covered tightly, and refrigerated overnight, if you prefer to bake it fresh in the morning. Keep in mind though that the dough should come to room temperature, and may even need to rise a bit more outside the fridge, so leave at least an hour before you pop the pan in the oven. I plan to update this recipe in the near future, after I test it with sliced pears just beneath the cream layer. Stay tuned. ;o) —AntoniaJames
one 12" x 9" coffee cake
172 grams / ¾ cup / 172 ml milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons instant (Rapid Rise) yeast
360 grams (3 cups) all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons (36 grams) white sugar
1 teaspoon (5 grams) salt
¾ teaspoon ground nutmeg, divided (1/2 teaspoon for the dough, ¼ teaspoon for sprinkling on top)
3 ounces (6 tablespoons, 84 grams) unsalted butter, plus more for buttering the baking pan
1 tablespoon raw sugar
1 heaping tablespoon brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon cloves
½ cup finely chopped toasted pecans
3 tablespoons almond paste (optional)
1 cup heavy cream
Flour for rolling out the dough
In This Recipe
In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the egg with a fork. Add the milk and vanilla; beat to blend. Add the yeast, flour, ½ teaspoon nutmeg, salt and sugar. Stir well until all the ingredients are incorporated. You can do this using the dough hook of your stand mixer, but I find it quicker just to do this with a sturdy silicone cooking spatula. Cover the bowl with a tea towel and let the dough rest for about 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, mix together the remaining nutmeg with the raw sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon and cloves.
Once the dough has rested, melt 3 tablespoons of butter, and turn on your stand mixer to medium speed. Drizzle the melted butter slowly onto the dough. Knead on medium high speed for about 5 minutes, stopping and scraping down the sides after about 3 minutes. The dough will look very strange at first, but don’t worry, it will get back to normal.
Remove the dough hook and cover the ball of dough lightly with a piece of plastic wrap, and then cover the bowl itself with a tea towel. Let the dough rise until nearly doubled. In my chilly kitchen, that takes about 1 ½ - 2 hours.
Generously flour a large work surface. Take the dough out and flatten it into a small rectangle. Flip it over, sprinkle with flour, and cover lightly with a tea towel; let the dough relax for 5 – 10 minutes. Meanwhile, generously butter a 9 x 13” baking pan.
Using a floured rolling pin, roll the dough out into a rectangle, slightly larger than the baking pan. (You want a small edge of dough around the sides.)
Put the dough in the pan, cover with a tea towel and let rise until doubled – about an hour (or less, if your kitchen is warm). Meanwhile, if using almond paste, infuse the cream with the almond paste by breaking the paste into pieces, using a small fork, in a 2 cup liquid measure – or another vessel that can be microwaved. Add the cream. Heat until very hot – about a minute on full power in my microwave; you should do it in stages to prevent the cream from boiling. Stir and let sit until ready to use.
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Using a chopstick held at an angle to the surface of the dough, very carefully put small holes in it evenly spread about 2” apart. You want to avoid deflating the dough, so gently poke and then give the chopstick a quick turn, and remove it. Sprinkle the entire surface with the sugar and spices. Then sprinkle on the chopped nuts.
Take a deep breath. (if you’ve never done this before – you’ll be asking yourself, “Did I read that right?” You did.) pour the cream over the surface of the dough. Distribute any bits of almond paste on the surface.
Bake for 40 minutes. Let sit in the pan for at least 5 minutes before cutting and serving.
When I'm not working (negotiating transactions for internet companies), or outside enjoying the gorgeous surroundings here in the San Francisco Bay Area, I'm likely to be cooking, shopping for food, planning my next culinary experiment, or researching, voraciously, whatever interests me. In my kitchen, no matter what I am doing -- and I actually don't mind cleaning up -- I am deeply grateful for having the means to create, share with others and eat great food. Life is very good. ;o)