June 30, 2015

Almond Coffee Cake Ring

almond coffee cake ring

almond coffee cake ring

Entenmann's was a staple during my teenage years.  My father worked shift work and he liked coffee cake on his break at work - somehow the coffee cake made the long night hours more bearable, more civilized, when most people were snug in their beds, the coffee break with coffee and cake made it more bearable.  My father has never verbalized this sentiment but he did have habits that indicated comfort - the mental and physical comfort that food can bring.  He is not of the school of meditation or mantras, he is connected to the deep root of his childhood and the comforts food brought.  Before a long stretch of a night shift work like he would make his homemade chicken soup and pack his lunch box with his Entemann's coffee cake, often this style almond cake or the New York style crumb cake.

This is a delicious cake especially if you enjoy the intense creamy flavor of almonds.

Almond Ring Coffee Cake
Makes 2 rings, each serving 8-10 

1 tube almond paste (7 ounces)
6 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
4 ounces cream cheese, softened

1/3 cups warm milk (110ºF)
1/3 cup sugar
1 stick (½ cup) butter, melted and cooled
3 egg yolks (reserve whites for topping)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
4½ cups flour, plus extra for work surface
1 package rapid-rise or instant yeast
2 teaspoons salt

3 large egg whites
½ cup sliced almonds
1½ cups confectioners’ sugar
2 ounces cream cheese, softened
2 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a stand mixer with paddle attachment, mix almond paste, confectioners’ sugar, and cream cheese until smooth. 
Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to use.
This can be done the day before but not necessary.

Adjust oven rack to upper-middle and lower-middle positions and heat oven to 200ºF, turn off oven when it reaches temperature.
Or set your oven to bread proofing if your oven is equipped with that feature.
Grease a large bowl with flavorless oil. 
Line two baking sheets with Silpats or parchment paper.
Mix milk, sugar, melted butter, yolks, and vanilla in medium bowl.
Mix flour, yeast, and salt in bowl of standing mixer fitted with dough hook.
Turn mixer to low and slowly add milk mixture.
After dough comes together, increase speed to medium and mix until shiny and smooth, 4 to 6 minutes - dough will be sticky.
Turn dough onto heavily floured work surface, shape into ball, and transfer to greased bowl.
Cover bowl with plastic wrap and place in turned-off oven until dough is almost doubled, about 20 minutes.
Divide dough into 2 equal pieces on lightly floured work surface.
Working with one piece at a time, roll dough into 18-by-9-inch rectangle with long side facing you.
Spread with half of filling and roll up dough.
Brush top edge with water, then press to seal and transfer, seam side down, to parchment lined baking sheet and shape into a ring or circle.
With a sharp knife, make cuts around outside of dough, about 1½ inches apart, leaving about an inch of intact dough at the top of your cut (inner ring). 
The dough remains attached by the inner ring.
Turn each piece of dough so that the filling is showing face up on the baking sheet.
You are twisting an attached cinnamon roll to face up on the baking sheet.
Repeat with remaining dough and filling
Cover with plastic wrap coated with oil
Return to oven until rings have puffed slightly, 30 to 40 minutes.
Remove from oven.
Preheat oven to 375ºF.

Whisk reserved egg whites in a small bowl
Brush rings with egg whites and sprinkle with almonds.
Bake until deep brown, about 25 minutes, rotating pans halfway through baking. 
Whisk confectioners’ sugar, cream cheese, milk, and vanilla in small bowl until smooth.  Drizzle icing over baked coffee cakes and serve warm. 

Adapted from Cook’s Country

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