Darrell and I watched a skunk lumbering around the yard from our kitchen window earlier this week. I grabbed my camera and headed out the back door certain that I could snap a close-up of it! When it stopped rooting in the dirt and locked its eyes on me, I had a change of heart.
Even though I didn’t get the picture, I’m still inspired by the movement that’s starting to take place around here. I felt like I was breathing in the Spring when I saw the llamas next door back out in the pasture. Do I dare say out loud that I even saw the little shoots of the crocus out front this week?
These signs also mean that Easter and Mother’s Day are just around the corner so it seems the perfect time to post the Maple Cream Cheese Coffee Cake recipe that won the blue ribbon at the Cooking with Maple contest in 2013.
It may look a little more complicated than some of the things I’ve posted in the past but it’s not. In fact, you’ll find that the dough needs less attention than most breads, has a short resting time, and is very easy to work with. If you have any hesitation what-so-ever, consider one of my favorite Julia Child quotes, “The only real stumbling block is fear of failure. In cooking you’ve got to have a what-the-hell attitude.”
My suggestion is that you give yourself time. We’re so busy rushing around all the time that it might feel good to just carve out a little space to get creative in the kitchen. Put the water on for tea, then explore both the recipe and ingredient list.
Though I’ve offered a few alternatives to the maple filling, why not contemplate your own favorites? Based on the fact that there’s never been a crumb of this coffee cake left over, my guess is that you’ll be glad you did!
Here’s to Spring, to some long moments of sun on your face, and making something delicious to share with your family this Easter or Mother’s Day! Don’t forget to make some Salted Maple Glazed Popcorn to bag up for those baskets or bouquets, too!
Hope to see you around the bread bowl!
Maple Cream Cheese Coffee Cake
(This recipe makes two 8-9 inch coffee cakes; you can do 2 different fillings!)
3 1/2 – 4 cups all purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar + 2 T, for topping
1 tsp salt
1/3 cup shortening/butter
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup milk/soy milk/rice milk
8 ounces cream cheese
1/3 cup sugar (or 1/3 cup maple syrup if you’re doing a maple cream)
3 T. flour
1 egg yolk (save the white for brushing the top later)
Glazed pecans(optional): 1 cup chopped pecans, 3 T maple syrup, small dollup of butter
Glaze: 2 T softened butter, 2 T maple syrup, 1/2 cup powdered sugar
Mix 2 cups flour, sugar, salt and yeast in large bowl. Combine shortening with liquids and heat to lukewarm (around 125 degrees; shortening doesn’t have to be completely melted.) Stir into flour mixture then add egg. Beat with mixer until smooth.
Stir in enough of the remaining flour to make the dough easy to handle. Knead on lightly floured surface about 5 minutes. Cover and let rest 10 minutes.
Prepare the filling by beating all ingredients till smooth,
Prepare the coffee cakes by dividing the dough in half and rolling each half into about a 15 inch circle. Place each circle in a greased 8-9 inch round pan. (I like to use a tart or springform pan with removable bottoms.)
Make cuts at 1 inch intervals about 1/2 inch from the edge of the filling to the outside edge of the dough circle. (refer to the pictures if you’re a visual learner like me!)
Twist strips and fold over filling.
Beat egg white until foamy and brush over dough. Sprinkle each with 2 T sugar. (At this point you can cover and refrigerate up to 24 hours; rising may be slightly longer) Cover and let rise 45 minutes.
*As an alternative (since Darrell can’t have the milk or cream cheese and he’s really the big eater in the house), I will skip the cream cheese in one of the coffee cakes and just put in a generous layer of our homemade raspberry jam (and slivered almonds over the top with the sugar before baking). He loves it!!
You could also skip the maple flavors and opt for a plain cream cheese layer with some pie filling or jam right on top of the cream cheese layer). There’s no hard and fast rule on combinations!
Note: To maple glaze pecans place 1 cup of chopped pecans in a saute pan. When they are warm and smell wonderful, add in 2-4 T syrup and a small dollup of butter. Keep stirring (1-2 minutes) till caramelized. They’ll harden some as they cool.