It is that time of the month again, friends. Progressive Eats time! This month, our host is Liz of That Skinny Chick Can Bake. Our theme is apples, and our talented crew has come up with an excellent menu of both sweet and savory apple dishes for you to enjoy. Thank you so much for hosting us this month, Liz!
Just check out this incredible line up:
- Apple and Pecan Stuffed Pork Chops from Never Enough Thyme
- Apple-Cheese Spread from All Roads Lead to the Kitchen
- Apple Chutney from Mother Would Know
- Savory Apple Cheddar Bread Pudding from Stetted
- Tsunth Monji – Green Apple Fritters from Spiceroots
- Apple Butter Coffee Cake from Pastry Chef Online
- Hot Buttered Rum Apple Pie with Cheddar Crust from The Wimpy Vegetarian
- Apple Streusel Cake with Yogurt Cream (Gluten-Free) from Jeanette’s Healthy Living
- Homemade Pink Applesauce (Gluten-Free) from The Heritage Cook
- Hubba Hubba Apple Cake from The Food Hunter’s Guide to Cuisine
- Maple Glazed Apple Tart from That Skinny Chick Can Bake
- Maple Roasted Apple Butter with Bourbon from Creative Culinary
When I read our theme for the month, I immediately typed “apple butter coffee cake” in our spreadsheet. But that didn’t mean I knew how I was going to make it. I hadn’t a clue beyond “Take apple butter. Put it in a coffee cake. Bake.” I knew I’d have to do better than that, so I started reading.
First up, I knew I wanted to make a yeasted coffee cake and not a quick bread type. Don’t get me wrong, though. I love a good, old fashioned sour cream coffee cake, I just wanted to present something a little more dinner worthy than diner worthy. I found this recipe over at The Carboholic, and made just a couple of changes to both the ingredient list and the procedure. I love the finished dough–so soft, supple and sexy. Thanks, Carboholic, for doing the heavy lifting on this one. I completely understand why you worked so hard to recreate the memory of your favorite coffee cake. This dough is very special.
I also searched for the obvious, “apple butter coffee cake.” I found this recipe for a celebrated apple butter coffee cake made by the fine folks at The Inn at Vaucluse Spring (which is incidentally located in the northern end of Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley. The Beloved and I took one of our very favorite vacations in the Shenandoah Valley, driving all the way down from the northern end to the southern end over the course of a perfect week.) Their coffee cake is a quick bread type with a layer of apple butter in the middle and streusel on the top. From their recipe, I took the idea of mixing the apple butter with whipped egg white. I figured it would serve to hold my layers together. I further increased my chances of Successful Lamination by stirring in some cornstarch as well. It’s kind of like using angel food batter to layer between bread dough. And I did achieve lamination success, so hooray for that.
As for the streusel? I like streusel. A lot. It’s so easy to make–equal parts flour, butter, and sugar. The end. Of course you’ll need a pinch of salt, maybe some spices, maybe some toasted nuts, maybe some oatmeal, but for basic streusel or crumb cake topping, just mix equal parts of flour, butter, and sugar together with a pinch of salt.
I have to tell you guys this. I tried to shape my cake like I did the babka from last week–splitting the log of dough down the center and twisting. Well, I did it, but I wouldn’t recommend it. The filling is entirely too soft, as is the dough. I made a big, fat mess. I am saving you the trouble by proposing a simplified shaping method in the recipe. You’re welcome.
For the Dough
- 10 oz milk, , room temperature (I used whole milk)
- 13 oz all purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons dry yeast, (I use active dry)
- 3 oz granulated sugar, (scant 1/2 cup)
- 2 teaspoons fine salt
- zest of 2 lemons
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- 1 teaspoon chai baking spice, (I use Mt. Baker's Chai Spice Seasoning from Savory Spice Shop)
- 1 large egg
- 3-4 oz all purpose flour
- 3 oz unsalted butter, , very soft but not greasy
For the Filling
- 2 egg whites
- tiny pinch of fine salt
- 1/2 cup apple butter, (store bought, or use my recipe for chai spice apple butter)
- 1 1/2 Tablespoons (4 1/2 teaspoons) corn starch)
For the Crumb Topping
- 2 oz granulated sugar
- 2 oz all purpose flour
- 2 oz cubed butter, , cool
- 1/2 teaspoon chai baking spice
- pinch salt
For the Glaze (optional)
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- pinch of salt
- heavy pinch of chai baking spice
- 1-2 Tablespoons milk
For the Dough
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, mix the milk and the flour together. You'll end up with a very stiff sort of dough. Not all the flour will be incorporated (possibly), but do the best you can. Cover and set aside while you gather up all the rest of your ingredients.
- In a small bowl, mix together the sugar, salt, zest, vanilla and baking spice. Hold it close to your face and breathe deeply. Smile.
- Crack the egg into a small bowl, scale out 4 oz of flour (but know you might not use it all) and cut up the butter into pieces.
- Once you've gotten all your ingredients together, make sure the flour and milk have sat for about 20 minutes total, and then continue.
- Put the mixer bowl on your mixer and fit the dough hook on there. Add the yeast and let that get pulled up into the dough.
- Add the sugar mixture and mix until more or less incorporated.
- Add the egg and continue mixing until more or less incorporated.
- Stir in about 3/4 of the remaining flour (3 oz) and mix to incorporated. The dough should be very messy at this point but starting to come together around the dough hook. Lots may stick in the bottom. That's okay for right now.
- With the mixer on medium low speed, add in the butter, a bit at a time, over about 5 minutes. Knead for another 5 minutes on medium low speed. At this point, the dough should be mostly clearing the sides of the bowl with some sticking still in the bottom. If it still looks very messy to you, add some more of the remaining flour, but err on the side of too little flour rather than too much.
- After another 5 minutes or so of kneading, the dough should be soft but very supple and extensible (stretchy).
- Spray your hands with pan spray and gather the soft dough into a smooth ball. Plop it back in the mixer bowl, spray the top of it with pan spray, and cover.
- Let rise in a cozy place until doubled in volume, about 1 1/2 hours.
To Shape, Fill and Bake
- Plop the dough out onto a lightly greased work surface and cover with the bowl.
- Whip the two egg whites along with a pinch of salt until foamy. Increase speed and whip to medium-stiff peaks.
- While the whites are whipping, stir the cornstarch into the apple butter.
- Fold the apple butter into the whites. Set aside for a moment.
- Uncover your dough and press out the gases. Lightly spray the top of the dough with some pan spray to prevent sticking.
- Roll into a large rectangle, about 20" x 15-16". This dough is extremely supple and is a dream to roll out.
- Spread the apple butter mixture onto the rectangle of dough, leaving about 1" plain on the far side of the rectangle.
- Roll up. The filling is very soft, so just do the best you can and know that it will all turn out just fine.
- Set the coil of dough into a lightly sprayed 12 cup Bundt pan. Just coil it in there. Tuck the ends down toward the bottom of the pan. If it looks kind of sloppy, worry not. That's what crumb topping is for.
- Sprinkle the crumb topping evenly over the dough, cover and let rise in a warm place until almost double again. About 1-1 1/2 hours.
- While the filled and shaped dough is rising, preheat the oven to 350F. Let the oven preheat a good 30 minutes before baking.
- Place the Bundt pan on a rack in the bottom third of your oven, close the door, and immediately turn up the heat to 400F. Set the timer for 5 minutes.This will encourage lovely ovenspring so you will have a tall and magestic coffee cake.
- After 5 minutes, turn the oven back down to 350F and set the timer for 20 minutes.
- When the timer goes off, check the bread. If spots are getting Plenty Brown, cover with foil, turn the heat down to 325F and bake an additional 5-10 minutes, or until the internal temperature is right around 200F (give or take 3 degrees).
- If parts of the top of your loaf are looking anemic (I had some parts like that), broil for 2 minutes or until the top is at least light golden brown and the crumbs are hard and crunchy.
- Remove from the oven and let cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Turn the coffee cake out and place, crumb side up, on a rack to cool to under 140F before slicing. It's better to let it cool completely, but I know you won't.
- If you'd like, glaze it with the optional glaze--you don't need more than a drizzle or three
To Make the Crumb Topping
- Mix all the topping ingredients together in a bowl until pebbly and no longer sandy. I do this by hand--it's the most efficient way to do it, I think.
To Make the Glaze
- Whisk together powdered sugar, salt, spice and milk until you have a nice drizzling consistency. Drizzle over the cooled coffee cake and allow to set up and harden before slicing.
You can also bake this in a round cake pan. Just coil the shaped log of dough into the pan and go from there.
I must say this yeasted chai apple butter coffee cake is even better than I’d expected it to be. The dough (props again to The Carboholic) reminds me very much of a homemade, no-filler version of Entenmann’s dough. This is a good thing. The meringue and cornstarch whipped into the apple butter do their job of holding everything nicely together. The only thing I may do differently next time is to blob on blobs of apple butter on the top and then put the crumb topping on top of that. You know, for Maximum Apple Awesomeness. Otherwise, the entire thing is pretty perfect. And toasted with butter and more chai spice apple butter? Lord, I could eat it every day!
Thank you so much for joining us for this month’s virtual progressive dinner. If you are a blogger interested in joining our merry band (and we always have a need for a sub or two every month), please contact Barb at Creative Culinary for more information. And please do visit all the talented bloggers who make this event so successful month after month. I’m honored to be part of the group.