My grandmother was not an especially great baker. In fact, her “hockey puck” Christmas oatmeal cookies were rather famous within the family for their ability to withstand multiple dunks in coffee or milk without falling apart. However, what she did know was where to find the absolutely most flavorful baked goods ever. While my childhood memories of early morning breakfasts at her house are filled with the plentiful bakery pastries, one in particular stands out. It involves a filled coffeecake with simple soft dough.
The recipe below is the result of many attempts to replicate the dough from that coffeecake, but as simplistic as possible.
The high ratio of yeast to flour allows for no kneading and only 1 rising. In fact, if allowed to rise more than once, the baked dough will be dry.
Sugar is kept to a minimum to allow use as a tart crust such as with Brignoles Rustic Tomato Tart. Following the Flavor Tier philosophy means adding herbs and/or spices to the dough to match the filling. Savory fillings are enhanced with herbs such as basil, thyme, oregano, rosemary and chives. Using spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and cloves with a sweet filling simply add an additional flavor burst.
Whatever filling you choose, be sure to have the filling ready when the dough has completed rising. Pat the dough in pan of choice and immediately add the filling. This prevents the dough from rising the second time to keep it moist.
2 packages yeast, ¼ oz each
7 T warm water
¼ c sugar
1/3 c shortening
½ t kosher salt
1 egg, room temperature
2 ½ c flour
2 T herbs of choice, optional
½ T spice of choice, optional
In a small bowl dissolve yeast in warm water. Set aside.
In a large bowl, with an electric mixer, beat sugar, shortening and salt until fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add egg and mix completely.
Using mixer, blend in flour and herbs and/or spices, if using. Add the yeast and mix to a smooth, elastic dough. Do not over mix or cooked dough will be dry. Cover dough and let rise 45 minutes.
For 2 coffee cakes or tarts, press into 8” square or 9” round pans. Fill and bake 20 minutes at 350°. Do not allow to do a second rise or the coffee cake will be dry.
For 1 large tart or coffee cake, press into a 11” x 7” pan or 10-12” round pan. Fill and bake 25 minutes at 350°. Do not allow rise dough a second time or result will be dry.