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This is one of the most exciting breads we've created lately. Not for its taste, particularly, nor even its texture, though both are excellent. No, the reason it's exciting is that we learned something very interesting while making it -- yes, Virginia, you can make a yeasted bread out of pastry flour!
Now, we'd always assumed you need the strength of a moderate to high-gluten flour to make a successful yeast bread. After all, how's your bread going to rise if there isn't enough gluten to make the process successful? Thus it was with dubious feelings we scanned a yeasted coffeecake recipe calling for pastry flour. "Huh! I doubt it!" Still, hope springs eternal, and wouldn't it be nice if the tenderness of a pastry flour product could be translated to a yeast dough...?
And, by golly, it worked. Because this bread is rolled thin, filled, and then rolled up, no one piece of it has to rise very high, or support much weight; it just has to rise a bit, and as long as the various layers all rise that little bit, the finished product is nice and light.
The following cake, somewhat reminiscent of a cheese Danish, goes extremely well with coffee. Since it's quite sweet, we recommend slicing it no more than 1-inch thick, and serving it with fresh fruit, scrambled eggs, or other "non-confection" type brunch foods.
1/4 cup water
6 tablespoons sour cream or yogurt
6 tablespoons butter
1/4 teaspoon lemon oil OR 1 teaspoon grated lemon peel
3 cups Round Table Unbleached Pastry Flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons instant yeast
8 ounces cream cheese
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 egg, beaten and divided*
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/3 cup diced, crystallized ginger (optional)
egg wash made from 1 egg*
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 cup sliced almonds
*Beat an egg till smooth, then use about 3 scant tablespoons of it in the filling, and the remainder in the topping. It's really hard to measure out tablespoons of beaten egg -- the egg wants to remain cohesive, whole you want to separate it -- so just measure as best you can. Don't be too much of a perfectionist.
Manual/Mixer Method: In a large mixing bowl, combine all of the dough ingredients, mixing till the dough begins to come away from the sides of the bowl. Knead the dough with an electric mixer for 2 minutes; allow it to rest for 15 minutes, then continue kneading it for an additional 5 to 7 minutes, or until it's smooth. If you're kneading by hand, transfer the dough to a lightly oiled work surface; knead it for 3 minutes; allow it to rest for 15 minutes, then continue kneading till smooth, an additional 8 to 10 minutes. This dough will remain soft and somewhat sticky; that's the nature of pastry flour. Try to work with it as well as you can without adding lots of additional flour, which will give you a tough, dry final product. Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl, cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and refrigerate it overnight.
Bread Machine Method: Place all of the dough ingredients into the pan of your bread machine, program the machine for Manual or Dough, and press Start. About 10 minutes before the end of the final kneading cycle, adjust the consistency of the dough with additional flour or water; it should be smooth, though still a bit sticky. When the machine is done kneading, and before it begins its rise cycle, transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl, cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and refrigerate it overnight.
Filling: Combine all of the filling ingredients except the ginger, beating till smooth. Refrigerate until ready to use.
Topping: In a small cup, mix together the remaining egg, brown sugar, and vanilla. Set aside.
Assembly: Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface, and roll it into a 1/4- to 1/2-inch thick rectangle, about 16 x 14 inches. The cold dough will be neat to work with -- very solid, but soft and pliable. Spread the filling on the dough, leaving a half-inch border around the edge. Sprinkle the ginger, if you're using it, atop the filling. Tucking in the two short edges (this will keep the filling inside as it bakes), and starting with a long edge, roll the dough up like a jelly roll. Seal the side seam, and place the roll, seam-side down, on a lightly greased or parchment-lined baking sheet, shaping it into a horseshoe-shape.
Make about 6 diagonal slashes in the top of the dough (this will allow the steam from the filling to escape), then brush the topping all over the dough. Sprinkle with the almonds. Cover the loaf with lightly greased plastic wrap or a dough-rising cover, and set it aside to rise for 2 hours or so; it'll become somewhat puffy, but really won't rise very much.
Bake the bread in a preheated 350°F oven 35 to 40 minutes, or until it's golden brown. Remove it from the oven, cool to lukewarm, slice, and serve. Yield: 1 coffee bread, 16 servings.
Note: To save time in the morning, you may choose to prepare the dough in the early morning, refrigerate it all day, then shape and fill it in the evening. Refrigerate the filled loaf overnight, then remove it from the refrigerator, let it rest at room temperature for 30 minutes to 1 hour (the longer the better), and bake as directed above, giving it an extra 5 to 10 minutes. While the loaf this method produces isn't quite as nice -- it flattens out somewhat, rather than rising -- it tastes fine.