Sunday, March 27, 2011

Daring Baker's Challenge: 1) Sausage and Cheese or 2) Caramel Apple and Pecan Filled Yeasted Coffee Cake

The March 2011 Daring Baker’s Challenge was hosted by Ria of Ria’s Collection and Jamie of Life’s a Feast. Ria and Jamie challenged The Daring Bakers to bake a yeasted Meringue Coffee Cake.

At left, sausage and cheese. At right, caramel apple with pecan. 

My initial reaction:

Is this the same recipe as the Stollen from December?

Answer: No.

            What's the difference?

Answer: This is a light, moist bread with a filling rolled between the layers of bread. Stollen was dense and typically had its flavors incorporated into the dough.

What should I fill mine with?

     Savory vs. Sweet

Savory idea: country sausage  and  cheese

Sweet ideas:
         cranberry with tangelo zest
       caramel apple with pecans
       lemon/lime/lemon tangelo curd with fresh strawberries or raspberries
         chocolate chip, heath bits, and caramel
       sweetened cream cheese with raspberries or strawberries

Once I got started thinking, the ideas kept rolling! The recipe made enough bread for two options so that gave me flexibility without loads of time. I needed a good excuse and when I look I can generally find one. This time I decided to bring it for snack between Sunday School and church. The most palatable breakfast ones were 1) sausage and cheese and 2) caramel apple with pecan. Look out kitchen, I've got a plan!

Filled Yeasted Meringue Coffee Cake

A note on time:

This recipe takes about 3 hours to prepare. If you don't have 3 hours, try making it the night before and popping it in the oven the next morning for 15 minutes.

Makes 2 round coffee cakes, each approximately 10 inches in diameter
The recipe can easily be halved to make one round coffee cake

For the yeast coffee cake dough: (from Ria and Jamie via the Daring Baker's Challenge Recipe)

4 cups (600 g / 1.5 lbs.) flour
¼ cup (55 g / 2 oz.) sugar
¾ teaspoon (5 g / ¼ oz.) salt
1 package (2 ¼ teaspoons / 7 g / less than an ounce) active dried yeast
¾ cup (180 ml / 6 fl. oz.) whole milk
¼ cup (60 ml / 2 fl. oz. water (doesn’t matter what temperature) (I use water at 110 F for yeast typically. )
½ cup (135 g / 4.75 oz.) unsalted butter at room temperature
2 large eggs at room temperature

For the meringue: (from Ria and Jamie via the Daring Baker's Challenge Recipe)

3 large egg whites at room temperature
¼ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon vanilla
½ cup (110 g / 4 oz.) sugar

For the sausage and cheese filling: (my own invention)

3/4 lb. ground country sausage, browned (~1.5 c.)
1 c. grated sharp cheddar
1 c. grated mozzarella

For the caramel apple filling: (my own invention)

1 apple (large), diced (~ 2 c. diced apple) Note: the smaller you dice, the easier it will be to roll the pastry.
1/4 c. coarsely chopped pecans
2 Tbsp brown sugar (I always use dark rather than light)
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. lemon juice
caramel/butterscotch sauce

Caramel/Butterscotch sauce: (enough for one loaf of caramel apple filled yeast bread) (I change this a little each time I make it)

1/4 c. unsalted butter
1 1/2 Tbsp. all purpose flour
1/4 c. white sugar, granulated
1/4 c. dark brown sugar
1/4 c. water

Egg Wash:

2 options

Option 1: 1 egg, beaten
Option 2: Use the 3 leftover egg yolks, beaten. (You can add  2 Tbsp of milk if you want to lighten the mixture.)


1)  Prepare the dough: (Jamie and Ria, Daring Bakers)

In a large mixing bowl, combine 1 ½ cups (230 g) of the flour, the sugar, salt and yeast.

In a saucepan, combine the milk, water and butter and heat over medium heat until warm and the butter is just melted.

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. Add the eggs and 1 cup (150 g) flour and beat for 2 more minutes.

Using a wooden spoon, stir in enough of the remaining flour to make a dough that holds together. Turn out onto a floured surface (use any of the 1 ½ cups of flour remaining) and knead the dough for 8 to 10 minutes until the dough is soft, smooth, sexy and elastic, keeping the work surface floured and adding extra flour as needed.

Place the dough in a lightly greased (I use vegetable oil) bowl, turning to coat all sides. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and a kitchen towel and let rise until double in bulk, 45 – 60 minutes. The rising time will depend on the type of yeast you use.

2) Prepare the fillings

Brown the sausage. Be sure its quite fine in texture. If you want a finer texture, toss it in the food processor and pulse a few times until it reaches the fineness you desire.

Grate the cheese.

Start the caramel sauce.
Melt the butter in a small pot.
Stir in flour and make a paste.
Add both sugars and water. (It will hiss a little, don't be afraid.)
Bring to a boil (many large rapidly forming bubbles), then turn the mixture down to a simmer (a few small, slow forming bubbles).
Maintain at a simmer for 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally. If you overboil, the sauce will first become tough to stir, then burn.
If it becomes tough to stir, drizzle or pour, add a little water and stir until you reach the desired consistency.

While the caramel boils, dice your apples and chop your pecans.

Mix the apples, lemon juice, cinnamon and brown sugar together.

3) Check the dough

Is it doubled in size? If yes, proceed to making meringue. If no, wait until it is, then proceed to making meringue.

4) Meringue

In a clean mixing bowl – ideally a plastic or metal 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 egg whites with the salt, first on low speed for 30 seconds, then increase to high and continue beating until foamy and opaque. Add the vanilla then start adding the ½ cup sugar, a tablespoon at a time as you beat, until very stiff, glossy peaks form. IF you dump all the sugar in too quickly, the egg whites will fall and you'll have a liquid mess and need to restart. Take your time and seriously add 1 Tbsp of sugar at a time. 

5)  Assemble the Coffee Cakes

Line 2 baking/cookie sheets with parchment paper.

Punch down the dough and divide in half.

On a lightly floured surface, working one piece of the dough at a time (keep the other half of the dough wrapped in plastic), 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.

Distribute your filling of choice. For the sausage and cheese, sprinkle with sausage, then cheese.

For the caramel apple and pecan: Sprinkle the apple mixture, then pecans. Next drizzle the caramel over top.

Now, roll up the dough jellyroll style, from the long side. Pinch the seam closed to seal. Very carefully transfer the filled log to one of the lined cookie sheets, seam side down. Bring the ends of the log around and seal the ends together, forming a ring, tucking one end into the other and pinching to seal.

Sausage and cheese, ready for baking.

Is the apple ready to bake? Yes.

Using kitchen scissors or a sharp knife (although scissors are easier), make cuts along the outside edge at 1-inch (2 ½ cm) intervals. Make them as shallow or as deep as desired but don’t be afraid to cut deep into the ring.

Repeat with the remaining dough, meringue and fillings.

Cover the 2 coffee cakes with plastic wrap and allow them to rise again for 45 to 60 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C).

Brush the tops of the coffee cakes with the egg wash. Bake in the preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes until risen and golden brown. The dough should sound hollow when tapped.

I sprinkled an extra 1/4 c. of grated cheddar on top of the sausage and cheese after baking.

A slice of the sausage and cheese

When the apple one was done, I sprinkled it with a little powdered sugar.

A slice of  caramel apple and pecan.

Remove from the oven and slide the parchment paper off the cookie sheets onto the table. Very gently loosen the coffee cakes from the paper with a large spatula and carefully slide the cakes off onto cooling racks. Allow to cool.

Just before serving, dust the tops of the coffee cakes with confectioner’s sugar as well as cocoa powder if using chocolate in the filling. These are best eaten fresh, the same day or the next day. If you want to reheat the next day, 1) don't refridgerate or 2) let the refrigerated bread come to room temp. Then bake at 350 F for about 15 minutes. The crust will be restored to proper crispiness, while the inside stays moist but regains heat for your filling. Enjoy!

Reaction: I had a hard time deciding which I liked better. I used sausage from our hometown butcher and so the sausage and cheese seemed tough to beat. I tasted the caramel apple and felt torn. Incredibly tasty. I'd say my favorite would depend on whether I was in the mood for sweet or savory. Beyond my opinion were my many taste tester's opinions. There were 3 slices of sausage bread remaining and one slice of caramel apple. I was asked by a couple folks for the recipe and told them I'd post it on my blog in a couple of weeks. Here it is!

When I talk to my grandma (typically once a week), she often asks what I've been cooking lately. She liked the sounds of these breads for Christmas morning and suggested we try that this coming Christmas. I think it would be a great addition to a breakfast gathering.

Thanks for this tasty challenge! I appreciate the simplicity and capacity to make it relatively quickly!

To view the original challenge recipe :

To view a printable version including my two fillings:


  1. I generally make sausage cheese squares (sausage, cheese, and a nice biscuit topping), but I think this would be a great sub every so often! Thanks for the great idea. :) But one question. What does the meringue actually do for the sausage and cheese?

  2. The meringue was said to add moisture to the bread. You could try it both ways to see if you noticed a difference. Some people didn't use it for their savory recipes and didn't state they had any issues with moisture. It didn't make the sausage version particularly sweet though, which was my initial concern.

  3. Well done on both counts. I used the meringue for both sweet & savoury...just reduced the sugar for the savoury one. Was a delicious challenge! Love your blogs name BTW... as much as I love garlic!

  4. And I like your version of cake with cheese and sausages very much. Not to say that I really like to double the garlic wherever I can. :)