This is the perfect treat to be enjoyed with friends and a hot cup of coffee.
This loaf, best served hot, yields a taste sensation of crunchy nuts and melted chocolate encrusted in a layer of meringue infused with a hint of cinnamon - absolutely divine!
For the dough:
4 cups (600 g) flour
1/4 cup (50 g) sugar
1 package ( 2 ¼ tsps, 7 g) active dried yeast
3/4 cup (180 ml) milk
1/4 cup (75 ml) water
1/2 cup (115 g) unsalted butter softened to room temperature
2 large eggs at room temperature
For the filling:
1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup (150 g) semisweet chocolate chips or coarsely chopped chocolate
For the Meringue:
3 large egg whites at room temperature
1/2 cup(100 g) sugar
Egg wash: 1 beaten egg, optional
Cocoa powder and confectioner’s sugar (powdered/icing sugar)
1.Prepare the dough:
2.In a large bowl, combine 1 ½ cups (230 g) of the flour, the sugar,salt and yeast.
3.In a saucepan, combine the milk, water and butter and heat over medium heat until warm (the butter is just melted).
4.With an electric mixer on low speed, gradually add the warm liquid to the flour/yeast mixture, beating until well blended. Increase mixer speed to medium and beat 2 minutes.
5. Add the eggs and 1 cup (150 g) flour and beat for 2 more minutes.
6. Using a wooden spoon, stir in enough of the remaining flour to make a stiff dough. Turn out onto a floured surface (use any of the 4 cups of flour remaining) and knead the dough for 8 to 10 minutes until the dough is soft, smooth, and elastic, keeping the work surface floured.
7. Place the dough in a lightly greased (I use vegetable oil) bowl,turning to coat all sides. Cover (I cover the bowl with plastic wrap and a kitchen towel) and let rise until double in bulk, 30 – 60 minutes. The rising time will depend on the type of yeast you use.
8. In a small bowl, combine the cinnamon and sugar for the filling. You can add the chopped nuts to this if you like, but I find it easier to sprinkle on both the nuts and the chocolate separately.
9. Once the dough has doubled, make the meringue:
10.In a clean mixer bowl – I use a plastic bowl so the egg whites adhere to the side (they slip on glass) and you don’t end up with liquid remaining in the bottom – beat the eggs whites with the salt, first on low speed for 30 seconds, then increase to high and continue beating until foamy. Add the vanilla then start adding the ½ cup sugar, a tablespoon at a time as you beat, until very stiff, glossy peaks form.
11.Make the Coffee Cakes:
12. Line 2 cooking sheets with parchment paper.
13. Punch down the dough and divide in half. On a lightly floured surface, working one piece of the dough at a time, roll out the dough into a 20 x 10-inch (about 51 x 25 ½ cm) rectangle. Spread half of the meringue evenly over the rectangle up to about 1/2-inch (3/4 cm) from the edges. Sprinkle half of the cinnamon-sugar evenly over the meringue followed by half the chopped nuts and half of the chocolate chips/chopped chocolate.
14. Now, roll up the dough jelly-roll style, from the long side. Pinch the seam closed. Very carefully transfer the filled log to one of the lined cookie sheets, seam side down. Shape the dough into a semi-circle.
15. Using a knife, make cuts along the outside edge at 1-inch (2 ½ cm) intervals.
16. Repeat with the remaining dough, meringue and fillings.
17. Cover the 2 loaves with plastic wrap and allow them to rise again for 30 to 60 minutes.
18. Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C).
19. Brush the tops of the coffee cakes with the egg wash if desired. Bake in the preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes until risen and golden brown.
20. Remove from the oven and slide the parchment paper off the cookie sheets onto the table. Very gently loosen the loaves from the paper with a large spatula and slide the cakes off onto cooling racks. Allow to cool.
21. Just before serving, dust the tops of the coffee cakes with both cocoa powder and confectioner’s sugar. These are best eaten fresh, the same day or the next day.