I’ve been pretty busy, but decided to jump into Bread Baking Day for the first time by making a delicious cheese kuchen from Carol Walter’s wonderful book, Great Coffee Cakes, Sticky Buns, Muffins & More: 200 Anytime Treats and Special Sweets for Morning to Midnight. Bread Baking Day #10′s topic is Breakfast Breads, an excellent choice by Melissa of Baking A Sweet Life.
One of the recipes in Ms. Walter’s book yields a versatile sweet dough that you can make with either cream cheese or sour cream, and then you can use the dough for a variety of other yummy baked goods, such as crumb buns, sticky buns, or the cheese kuchen. The dough is easy to make, easy to work with, and it freezes well. If you’re as busy as I am, that is an unbeatable combination. And, of course, the kuchen also tastes very good: it tasted like Danish pastry, but without all the work! The cheese filling was phenomenal, even with the raisins, which I usually don’t care for, but loved in this. In fact, I had to restrain myself from eating the filling with a spoon. I will be using this dough a lot! Keep reading more after the jump . . . .
Adapted from a recipe by Carole Walter inGreat Coffee Cakes, Sticky Buns, Muffins & More
Makes 8 to 10 servings
1/2 recipe (about 1 pound) Simple Sweet Dough (see below)
3 Tbsp. golden raisins, plumped
3 Tbsp. orange juice
1 (8 oz.) package cream cheese, at room temperature (do not use low fat)
1/4 cup sugar
1 large egg yolk
1 Tbsp. all purpose flour (can be bleached or unbleached)
2 tsp. melted butter
1 tsp. fresh lemon juice
1/2 tsp. grated lemon zest
1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
3 Tbsp. slivered almonds
2 tsp. sugar
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon (make sure it’s strong and fresh – if it isn’t, increase to 1/2 tsp.)
1. Remove dough from the refrigerator about 1 to 1.5 hours before shaping.
2. In a small bowl, soak the raisins in the orange juice for 30 minutes. Drain and place on a paper towel to dry. Set aside.
3. Butter a 9-inch springform pan and set aside. Lightly flour a work surface. Gently knead the dough six to eight times, and shape it into a disc. With lightly floured hands, press the dough into the pan, stretching it to completely cover the bottom. Push the dough (using your knuckles) against the side of the pan, forcing it up to form a wall about 3/4 inch high and 1/4 inch thick. Be sure to press the dough well into the crease of the pan. If it keeps springing back, let it rest a few minutes to let it relax. Pierce the dough 10 to 12 times with a fork. Cover the pan and let the dough rise in a warm place for 25-30 minutes until puffy, but NOT doubled.
4. While the dough is rising, prepare the cheese filling. In a food processor, blend the cream cheese until smooth. Add the sugar and blend until very smooth. Pulse in the egg yolk. Add the flour, sour cream, melted butter, lemon juice, lemon zest, and vanilla, and pulse until smooth. Scoop the mixture into a bowl and stir in the raisins.
5. Position the oven rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat to 350 F.
6. Gently drop spoonfuls of the cheese filling over the top of the dough. Start on the outside with a circle of cheese, then fill in the middle, leaving a 1-inch border of dough around the edge. Do not press on the dough. Using a small offset spatula or the back of a spoon, smooth the filling across the top.
7. Combine the almonds, sugar, and cinnamon and sprinkle the mixture evenly over the cheese filling.
8. Place the pan on a sheet of aluminum foil and wrap securely to catch any leakage. Place the pan on a baking sheet, and slide the whole thing into the oven for 35-40 minutes, or until the whole top is golden brown. Transfer to a cooling rack for 30 minutes.
9. Run a thin knife around the edge of the cake, and remove the springform ring. Transfer cake to a serving dish. The cake may be frozen if well wrapped.
Simple Sweet Dough
4 Tbsp. sugar
1/4 cup warm water (110 to 115 F)
1 package active dry yeast
3 cups unbleached all purpose flour, spooned in and leveled
1 tsp. salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes. (Butter should be slightly firm when ready to use, not an oily, soft mess.)
1/2 cup milk
3 large egg yolks
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
softened butter to prep bowl
1. Add 1 Tbsp. sugar to the warm water. Sprinkle the yeast over the water. Do not stir. Cover the bowl with a saucer and let the mixture stand for about 5 minutes. Stir briefly with a fork, cover again, and let stand a few more minutes until bubbly. If there is no frothing or bubbling, your yeast may be old, and start again.
2. In the bowl of a stand mixture (you can also use a food processor fitted with the dough blade), fitted with a paddle attachment, mix in low speed the flour, remaining 3 Tbsp. of sugar, and the salt. Add the butter and continue to mix until small crumbs form, about 2-4 minutes, depending on the temperature of the butter.
3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the milk, egg yolks, and vanilla. Add the milk mixture to the flour, along with the dissolved yeast, and mix on low for about 15 seconds. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Mix for another 30 seconds until a smooth dough forms. This is a soft dough.
4. Lightly butter a medium bowl. Empty the dough into the bowl, smoothing the top with floured hands. Spread a thin layer of softened butter on top. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
5. You can keep the dough in the refrigerator for up to three days, or wrap tightly and freeze for up to 3 months.