The March 2011 Daring Baker's Challenge was hosted by Ria of Ria's Collection and Jamie of Life's a Feast. Ria and Jaime challenged The Daring Bakers to bake a yeasted Meringue Coffee Cake.
And it's wonderful. The recipe is large and makes two coffee cake rings, and a lot of Daring Bakers split the recipe to make only one. I had planned on doing that as well, but in a last minute fit of generosity (oh! I'll bring one to work!) I made the full recipe. Let's just say that the second ring never made it to the office.
This recipe is a bit different than anything I'd ever seen--a yeasted bread roll filled with meringue. And it's genius. The filling melts and softens the bread around it--a gooey treat. But the meringue also crisps a bit where the slits are cut into the bread ring, allowing a tiny dried meringue crust to form in the oven. Yum.
It's a straightforward recipe, very similar to making any kind of sweet roll, in that it's a soft dough that rises once, is assembled into a roll, and rises again before baking. The only difference here is the meringue filling--remarkably fun to spread out and work with---like baking with sweetened clouds.
I filled my cake with chopped Belgian chocolate, cinnamon, and strong, amazing East Indies nutmeg from Penzeys (which is my new favorite nutmeg, and since nutmeg is my favorite spice to bake with, that's saying a lot).
After you roll up the dough and form the circle, you snip deeply into the sides every so often to let the filling ooze out a bit to make the subtle crunch. A painting of egg wash, and the bread goes in the oven.
It comes out of the oven brown and lovely, and it's all you can do to let it cool enough to eat it without burning yourself on the filling.
The only thing I will change for next time? Nuts. This baby screams for pecans. And next time you can bet that I'll be answering that scream.