Wednesday, December 31, 2003

TUSCAN COFFEE CAKE

I developed this recipe after enjoying a wonderful yeast-raised Tuscan-style coffeecake at Pane E Salute, a lovely Italian bakery in Woodstock, Vermont. This high-rising yeasted coffeecake is surprisingly tender. The sugar topping drizzled on top before baking gives it a pretty, crunchy sugar glaze. And, unlike American-style coffeecakes, this isn’t super-sweet; the glaze on top, and the fruit inside, are a wonderful complement to the bread itself, which truly isn’t sweet at all. My son, an avowed hater of desserts and all things sweet, finds this a palatable substitute for birthday cake.

STARTER
1 cup King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1/2 cup cool water
1/16 teaspoon instant yeast

Mix the starter ingredients in a small (about 1-quart) bowl, and let rest overnight at room temperature.

DOUGH
all of the starter
2/3 cup water
2 3/4 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
1 large egg
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons instant yeast
1 1/4 teaspoons salt

Combine the dough ingredients, mixing and kneading to form a smooth, supple dough. It’ll be very slack; for this reason, I suggest kneading in a bread machine, or with a mixer, rather than by hand. Place the dough in a bowl, and let it rise about 1 hour. It may not double in bulk; that’s OK.

FILLING
1 cup toasted walnuts, very coarsely chopped
3/4 cup chopped dates
3/4 cup raisins, golden preferred

Gently deflate the dough, and knead the nuts and fruit into it. Shape the dough into a flat ball, and place it in a 9-inch round cake pan. Cover the pan with a proof cover or lightly greased plastic wrap, and allow the loaf to rise for 30 minutes, or till it barely crests over the top of the pan.

TOPPING
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon water

Combine the sugar, vanilla and water, and drizzle this mixture over the top of the risen coffeecake. Bake it in a preheated 350°F oven for 35 minutes, or until it’s golden brown and the internal temperature registers 190°F. Remove it from the oven, and after 5 minutes, carefully turn it out of the pan. Allow it to cool on a rack. Yield: 1 cake, about 8 to 10 servings.

www.BakingCircle.com
December 30, 2003

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