flo’s pull-apart lemon coffee cake, sort of

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the more i make items listed as coffee cakes in flo braker’s book, the more i wonder about what constitutes a coffee cake? like the coconut twist coffee cake i experimented with a few days earlier, this item came out rather more like a sweet bread than a traditional cake.   over at wikipedia, the entry reads that coffee cake is a cake served with coffee or eaten as dessert.  at wordnetweb, the definition has been expanded to include any cake or sweet bread that is served with coffee. there’s no mention of coffee cake needing to have that crumbly crust or that kind of rustic and dense cake layer, often times kind of dry but pairing perfectly with coffee.  i guess it’s really any sort of carb that is enhanced with a good cup of steaming hot coffee.

without further ado, here’s the skinny on flo’s cake with my adaptations and all. (and yes, as the name suggests, it indeed pulls apart into citrusy  layers — a sunny pick me up for those autumn blahs)

Pull-Apart Lemon Zest Coffee Cake
(Adapted from Flo Braker’s Baking for All Occasions. Note: i skipped the glaze in her recipe and cut back on some of the sugar.  I also changed some steps around as well to simplify the process. But hey, you gotta do what works for ya, right?)

Ingredients for the Dough:

Flour 350g
Sugar 50g
Active Yeast 2 ¼ tsp
Salt ½ tsp
Milk 75 ml
Butter 55g
Water 60 ml
Vanilla Extract 2 tsp
Eggs 2 large ones

Ingredients for the Lemon Paste Filling

Sugar 70g
Lemon Zest From 3 lemons
Orange Zest From 1 orange
Butter ½ stick, melted
  1. Whisk together the flour, sugar, yeast and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer.
  2. In a small saucepan, heat the milk and butter over low heat until the butter has melted.
  3. Remove from heat and add in the water.
  4. While you are waiting for the liquid to cool down a bit, add the eggs one at a time into the flour mixture.  Combine using the paddle attachment on low speed until well incorporated.
  5. When the liquid mixture feels just warm to the touch, add in the vanilla extract.
  6. With the mixer set a low speed,  slowly pour the liquid mixture into the bowl.  Do not pour it in all at once.  You may not need all of the liquid. You are looking for a dough that is soft and only slightly sticky.
  7. After the liquid has been added, you may find it easier to change to the dough hook set to a medium speed.  Continue to knead the dough with the dough hook until it becomes smooth and no longer sticky.
  8. Cover the bowl with plastic and let is rise until it has doubled in size.  About 1 hour.  The dough is ready when an indentation made with your fingertip remains.
  9. Make the filling while you’re waiting for the dough to rise.  In a small bowl, mix together the sugar and zests with your hands until the a sandy-wet mixture is achieved.  You should also be able to smell the citrus aromas.
  10. When the dough is ready, roll it out into a 20×12 inch rectangle.  It helps to work on a well floured surface or to roll the dough over parchment paper.  I chose to do the latter as it makes for a much easier clean-up.
  11. Then, cut the dough into 5 equal strips that are 12 x 4 inches large.
  12. Using a pastry brush, spread the melted butter over one of the strips and sprinkle the sugar zest over the butter.  Stack another strip on top and repeat with the butter and sugar zest, until all the strips are stack on top of each other.
  13. Next, cut the stacked strips into 6 equal pieces that are 2 x 4 inches large.
  14. Butter and flour a 9 x 5 x 3 inches loaf pan.  It also helps to place a piece of parchment paper on the bottom of the pan.
  15. Arrange the 6 pieces of dough in the loaf pan.  They should be placed so that you can see the lemon zest and dough layers from the top.
  16. Loosely cover the pan and let the dough rise until it has doubled.  About 1 hour at room temp or 30 minutes with your oven set to the proofing function.
  17. Bake at 350ºF fro 30 minutes.
  18. Let the coffee cake rest for 10 minutes before flipping it out of the pan. Be careful when taking it out.  The cake really does pull apart or fall apart, if you do so too abruptly.
  19. Flo recommends topping the coffee cake with a tangy cream cheese icing.
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