Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Almond Twist Coffeecake

A round coffeecake with sixteen twists emanating from the center.

¾ cup milk
5 T unsalted butter, softened
¼ cup warm milk (110 degrees F.)
1 package dry yeast
2 eggs
⅓ cup sugar
3½ cups flour
¾ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla

Almond Filling:
⅓ cup plus 1 T (4 ounces) almond paste
2 T brown sugar
8 T unsalted butter
⅓ cup plus 1 T flour
1 egg
½ teaspoon each lemon zest and vanilla
dash salt

½ cup apricot jam
1 cup powdered sugar
4 teaspoons milk
½ teaspoon vanilla
⅓ cup sliced almonds, toasted

Preparing the dough:
n a small saucepan over low heat, combine ¾ cup milk with the butter and melt. Pour into a large bowl and cool to lukewarm. Sprinkle yeast over warm ¼ cup milk; to proof yeast allow to stand 5 to 10 minutes until mixture is foamy. Add the sugar, eggs, yeast mixture, vanilla, and 2 cups flour to the lukewarm milk mixture. Using an electric mixer, beat until smooth, about 1 minute. Add the salt and the 1½ cups additional flour; beat just to form a soft dough.

Transfer dough to a floured work surface and knead about 8 minutes or until dough is shiny, elastic smooth and has small blisters on the surface. Add a bit more flour to work surface just as needed to prevent sticking. (Alternatively, if using a heavy-duty mixer with flat beater attachment, beat on medium speed rather than knead dough on work surface until dough comes together in a ball and comes away from the sides of the bowl, about 5 to 7 minutes.)

Set dough in a large bowl, cover dough’s surface with a piece of lightly oiled plastic wrap, then a cloth towel. Refrigerate overnight, if you wish, or allow to rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, about 1 to 2 hours, depending on the temperature of the room.

Preparing the filling:
Using a food processor, blend the almond paste with the sugar. Add the butter, flour, egg, lemon, vanilla and salt; process until smooth.

Forming the coffeecake:
Gently punch dough down. Divide into three equal pieces. Lightly grease a 12-inch pizza pan. On a lightly floured surface roll out one portion of dough to a circle, 12-inches in diameter. Transfer to baking pan, stretching with fingertips if necessary, to fit the dimensions of the pan. Spread the dough with half the filling. Roll out second portion of dough to a 12-inch circle and transfer it on top of the other circle. If necessary, gently stretch the dough with fingertips to fit pan shape. Spread with the remaining filling. Roll out remaining dough ball to another 12-inch circle and set it on top of the circle stack. Again if necessary, gently stretch the dough with fingertips to fit pan shape.

Invert a drinking glass about 2-inches in diameter and set it in the center of the dough circle. (Do not allow it to cut through the dough.) With the handle of a wooden spoon, lightly score the dough circle with 16 indentations. Using kitchen scissors, cut through the layers of dough, using the indentations as a guide. Begin at the edge of the dough circle and cut up to the glass to form 16 pie-shaped wedges. Gently twist each wedge 4 to 5 times, spiraling each piece of dough. Remove the glass. Loosely cover dough with a towel. Let rise in a warm place until almost doubled in volume, about 25 to 30 minutes. Adjust rack in lower third of the oven and preheat oven to 350 degrees at least 20 minutes. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until golden. While warm, brush with warm apricot jam. In a small bowl, blend together the powdered sugar, milk and vanilla and brush the glaze over the jam while the coffeecake is warm. Sprinkle almonds over top. With a small paring knife, cut small slits in the pastry to allow steam to escape while baking.

Serves 16


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