A Babe in the house is a well-spring of pleasure,
A messenger of peace and love,
A resting place for innocence on earth,
A link between angels and men.
- Martin Farquhar Tupper
The life of a Babe is not an easy one. Oh, it may look glamorous on the outside, all conviviality and dazzling bonhomie in a sisterly way. It may look all elegant ease to others, but that is all smoke and mirrors. Behind the scenes, I tell a different story. It is a tragic tale of cursed recipes, frustration, kicking, screaming and cursing like a sailor. While my fellow Bread Baking Babes, those who bake yeasty things practically for a living, seemingly with their eyes closed and one hand strapped behind their back, no doubt like my own ancestors, those great, strong women of my past; while my fellow Babes scuddle around me tossing dough with ease, adapting recipes and serving up homebaked things in kitchens redolent of the cinnamony, spicy scent of heaven, I, well, I often live quite another experience. And I live to tell about one.
Once a Babe, always a Babe
This month, the month of August, I am the Bread Baking Babe hostess. The recipe is of my own choosing. So really, there is no excuse. But by the third try, I was beginning to feel like my recipe was simply cursed. Or the stars were not aligned or something ominous. It isn’t often that a food blogger reveals the kitchen mishaps, the baking disasters, the flops and the fiascos. But this was so huge, the blunders so enormous and so many, that I wanted to let my readers into my home, my life and share with them a little slice of what sometimes goes on in my kitchen.
Call it a series of flukes, label it simply wild misfortune or just (go ahead!) blame it on me, my impulsiveness and my impatience. But whatever you rack it up to, I decided to share the story. It is just all too incredible to be true. I am still pinching myself.
Try #1: I made the dough. A breeze! I have made no-knead sweet brioche-type dough in the past several times and this one seemed as it should. But. The following day, I should have known better than to simply dump it out onto a floured cutting board, as sticky as it was, slice it in two and begin rolling it out. I knew that it was too wet, too sticky, too difficult to handle much less to roll. I already saw where this was heading but I forged ahead. I whipped the meringue using 3 large egg whites and, again, I should have trusted my instincts based on pretty decent experience and knowledge. Although the meringue looked beautiful, I could see that it was fairly wet and loose for a jellyroll-type filling (it did not dawn on me until later that I had replaced the ground nuts which are intended to give the meringue body with chopped nuts which did nothing at all). And that there was too much of it. I was already starting to piss myself off, lose patience – I felt the steam beginning to ooze from my ears, I felt the crazy pills kicking in – but I went ahead and slathered that meringue onto the dough rectangles anyway! And tried to roll them up. They slithered and slid across the wooden cutting boards, the gooey meringue was spreading everywhere, in my hair, up and down my arms and across the counter and no matter how I fought that thing, it only got worse. No way in hell was this thing going to roll up and then behave long enough to be lifted from cutting board to pan.
So I scraped it off, all of it, straight into the trash.
Grocery store run – after much fuming and cursing and sending pathetic emails wallowing in self-pity to Ilva.
Try #2: Back to the drawing board. I upped the flour from 2 ½ cups to 3 cups in the initial mix of dough and stuck it in the fridge overnight. Still good. Following day, I kneaded the dough briefly adding more flour until it was malleable and controllable. I still have not corrected the filling and still used chopped instead of ground nuts, but I succeeded in rolling the dough around the filling and lifting it into the pan. It rose, it baked, it looked good. I took photos of it for the blog. At least I thought I did. Three, maybe four days later, the cake mostly eaten – completely by myself, I would like to add (both husband and Clem out of town and Simon is no longer eating anything sweet, thank you very much!) The last bit…. Well, I am sorry but I just could not look at it another day, another hour and sent the rest into the trash. * sigh *
I then made my Cherry Crumble Coffee Cake and was getting ready to post it on my blog when it struck me… I hadn’t seen the photos of my Bread Baking Babes Coffee Cake! What the what?! I checked my photos, I checked the camera and pffffftttttt gone into thin air. Disappeared. No photos. Not a one. Man, oh, man where are they and how am I ever going to post a recipe without photos? Especially when I am hosting the event?
Try #3: Back to the drawing board…again. And only for the sake of getting photos for the blog. But husband and son are back in town, so found comfort in the fact that there would be more people to eat it. It also crossed my mind that by the third try I have understood the ins and outs of this coffee cake. 3 cups flour to the dough, all the rest of the ingredients. As I am stirring the flour into the initial dough before its overnight rest, I am looking at it and thinking: “Hmmmm. Why is it so dough-like and not all sticky and gooey like it is supposed to be? Didn’t I add all of the ingredients?” I have a beautiful, firm yet supple dough sitting in my mixing bowl and I’m scratching my head. I skim through the list of ingredients and look around the kitchen and then it hits me. NO NO NO NO NO I have a pot with 225 grams of melted butter sitting on my stovetop, staring me in the face! “MAUDIT! MAUDIT! MAUDIT!” Is all that I can think… Cursed! This recipe is cursed! I begin wailing, cursing, throwing things around, slamming things onto the countertop as I attempt to stir, knead, whisk all that butter into the ball of dough.
This is when husband walks into the kitchen. “Look!” I scream hysterically. “Do you know how impossible it is to get all that butter into dough? I left the butter out of the recipe!” I have melted butter up to my wrists as I push my knuckles into butter-slick dough (which is sitting in an inch of melted butter), push and fold, push and fold then whack at it a bit with a wooden spoon. “Yes, I know. I heard.” He answers, actually chuckling at me! “You should change the name of your blog to Baking with the Drama Queen!” before he walks off, no help at all! Well, I keep at it for heaven knows how long until finally, finally I knead in all of that melted butter and have a unified, pretty nice, smooth dough. It actually feels…. Nice! I gave up and covered the bowl and put it in the fridge.
I briefly considered praying for the dough to turn out correctly and offer me a beautifully risen and fluffy dough, but by now I just was so fed up that I actually just wanted this entire experience to be done and finished with.
Following day, the dough is normal, risen and rolls out the dream. A sigh of relief escapes from my lips. I cut back on the egg whites and sugar to about 2/3 the original quantity, use ground nuts as I should and continue on my merry way. It fills and rolls up beautifully, I slip it in the pan, decide to treat it to a little milk wash and a pretty little dusting of slivered almonds. It rises again, just gorgeous. It bakes up giddily high and golden. I take photos of it, slice, taste and it is utterly, gorgeously perfect! I download the photos….yes, it is not an illusion, they are indeed there. And I smile. And I sigh with pleasure and relief.
And to top it all off, son and a friend of his stop by the house on their way to a party and carry the thing off.
Maybe the Baking Gods are on my side after all.
I am a Babe for a living.
– Gabrielle Reece
I am hosting the Bread Baking Babe event this month with a wonderful (yes, I said it…wonderful!) Cinnamon Nut Roll Coffee Cake from the Taste of Home Bakeshop Favorites cookbook. I love Taste of Home Cookbooks; they are filled with the best of American home baking and for every level of baker. This coffee cake is light and fluffy, infused with just a delicate sweetness from the meringue filling with a hint of cinnamon and nuts. Light, moist, it is the perfect treat for breakfast, brunch or snack.
Check out if and how the other Babes managed their own Cinnamon Nut Roll Coffee Cake:
Bake My Day – Karen
Bread Baking Babe Bibliothécaire – Katie
blog from OUR kitchen – Elizabeth
Feeding my enthusiasms – Elle
girlichef – Heather
Lucullian Delights - Ilva
Living in the Kitchen with Puppies – Natashya
My Kitchen In Half Cups – Tanna
Notitie Van Lien – Lien
Paulchens Foodblog – Astrid
Provecho Peru – Gretchen
You too can bake along with us and be a Bread Baking Buddy. Simply bake this Cinnamon Nut Roll Coffee Cake, blog it – don’t forget to mention being a Bread Baking Buddy and link back to this blog post! Then send me the link (please include your name and your blog’s name) by August 26th to jamieannschler AT gmail DOT com with August Bread Baking Buddy in the subject line and I will add you to the roundup.
I want to share this wonderful yeast coffee cake with Susan of Wild Yeast for her weekly Yeastspotting!
CINNAMON NUT ROLL COFFEE CAKE
Adapted from Taste of Home Bakeshop Favorites.
* Note that the dough rests in the refrigerator over night, so start the process the day before! If you are using European regular flour, start the basic dough with 3 cups (390 g) flour; if using American all-purpose flour, begin with 2 ½ cups (325 g) then add more as needed the second day when kneading the dough before rolling. I have given the original filling recipe as well as my own adjustments and changes below it.
You will need a stand mixer or beaters to whip egg whites for the meringue filling and a 10-inch (standard) tube pan, preferably with a removable center.
For the dough:
2 packages (1/4 ounce/7 g each) active dry yeast
¼ cup (@ 65 ml) warm water (110°F to 115°F)
16 Tbs (225 g) unsalted butter, melted
½ cup (125 ml) warm 2% fat/lowfat milk (110°F to 115°F)
4 egg yolks
2 Tbs sugar
¾ tsp salt
2 ½ cups (325 g*) all-purpose flour (if using European regular flour, increase total flour to 3 cups/390 g), more if the dough is too sticky or runny.
* when I measure flour I spoon lightly into the measuring cup and then level off so 1 cup usually weigh approximately 130 g: * see note above.
For the filling: (*see note above)
3 (90 g) large egg whites
1 cup + 3 Tbs sugar, divided
2 cups ground walnuts (I usually use pecans but choose what you like)
2 Tbs 2% fat/lowfat milk
2 tsps ground cinnamon
MY OWN CHANGES AND ADAPTATIONS TO THE FILLING:
2 – 3 large egg whites for a total of 2.65 oz (75 g)
2/3 cup (135 g) sugar + 2 Tbs (30 g) sugar
4.4 oz (125 g) ground hazelnuts or almonds
1 – 2 tsps ground cinnamon
2 Tbs 2% fat/lowfat milk
A bit of milk for brushing the top and the seams of the cake and slivered blanched almonds for dusting, optional but pretty
The day before, prepare the dough:
In a large mixing bowl, dissolve the yeast in warm water; allow to activate for 10 – 15 minutes until foamy. Whisk in the tepid melted butter, warm milk, eggs yolks, sugar and salt and then stir in the flour. Beat or stir until smooth – the mixture will be sticky. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
The day of baking, prepare the filling:
In a small bowl, beat the egg whites on medium speed until soft peaks form. Gradually beat in 1 cup (or 2/3 cup following my changes) sugar, about 2 tablespoons at a time, on high speed until the sugar is incorporated and dissolved, leaving a thick, glossy meringue.
In a large bowl, combine the ground nuts, cinnamon and remaining sugar then stir in the milk until the dry ingredients are all moistened; fold in the meringue.
Prepare the Coffee Cake:
Grease/butter the bottom, sides and center tube of a 10-inch tube pan.
Divide the dough in half. On a well-floured work surface, roll each portion into an 18 x 12 –inch (45 x 30 cm) rectangle with the longer side perpendicular to your body (the longer edge lying on the cutting board left to right). Spread half of the filling evenly over each rectangle within 1/2 –inch (1 cm) of the edges. Lightly brush the farthest, top edge with milk. Roll each up jellyroll style, as tightly as possible, starting with the long side closest to you and rolling up; pinch seam to seal.
Place one filled roll, seam side up, in the greased tube pan. Pinch the two open ends together. Place the second roll, seam side down on top of the first roll, again pinching and sealing the two open ends. Gently brush the top all over with a bit of milk and dust with some slivered almonds.
Cover the pan with plastic and allow to rise for 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C).
Once the coffee cake has risen, discard the plastic wrap and once again gently brush or dab the top surface all over with a bit of milk and add more slivered almonds where there are spaces.
Bake in the preheated oven for about 45 minutes or until puffed and golden brown. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, loosen the coffee cake from the sides of the pan and lift out the center tube, placing the tube with the cake onto the rack to cool completely. Once cool enough to handle, loosen the cake from the bottom of the pan and around the tube using a long, thin blade and carefully invert, lift off the tube and flip back, top side up, onto a serving platter. Or lift off of the tube onto the serving platter.
Eat as is or drizzle with glaze or dust with powdered sugar/cocoa powder.