I hope this finds you well in spite of recent sobering events we are all trying to make sense of — if that is even possible. I’m working to find inspiration in the most unlikely places and grasp tightly, acknowledging feelings of guilt for those I love who are safe. It makes no sense.
No sense at all.
It’s been a year since I’ve posted a Daring Baker challenge, and I’m hanging my head over it. Actually, I’ve just crawled out from under the rock where I’ve been hiding. Last March, the delicious Citrus Tian Dessert made with blood oranges and California Cuties marked the start of an extended absence from the once a month fun I’d enjoyed with the Daring Bakers for several years. Five months went by before I tackled another challenge — the Baked Alaska last August for one of my son’s birthdays — but that less than counts since I never posted it. I kept saying I would, but didn’t. Pathetic.
But I’m back. At least I think I am, and wanting to make sure I don’t miss out on any more. In fact, I just might join in on the Daring Kitchen challenges since I find myself with no excuse not to join in on that fun as well. I know I’ve missed out on some good recipes, but it’s more the sense of community generated by each of the monthly events I crave. I miss the easy, relaxing camaraderie. I miss it a lot.
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. Maybe that’s why it was go easy to get back in the saddle this month. Coffee cake is something everyone seems to enjoy. When I co-hosted the Daring Bakers in July of 2008, I chose a Danish Braid which is made with yeasted, laminated dough. If shape counts, this Pastry Ring with Chocolate and Cardamom is made of a yeasted dough, also in layers, and is remarkably similar in appearance to this month’s challenge.
But this coffee cake dough feels like bread dough to me. It looks like bread dough, smells like bread dough when it is baking, and looks like bread after it’s sliced. I’m thinking it’s somewhat like a cinnamon bread dough, only filled with meringue. Ah, that would be what intrigued me about this challenge most. The meringue.
I had fun deciding exactly what I’d put in the filling — give it a shot since it doesn’t involve all the turning and rolling involved in the Danish Braid and Pastry Ring, and you will too.
We weren’t snackers or dessert eaters when I was growing up, so the idea of crumb cake didn’t occur to me until I had my first job fresh out of high school working in a grocery store when I was 17. They came individually wrapped, and if I kept my eyes open, I could find a few on the day-old bakery rack for 10 cents. But it wasn’t just crumb cakes. I remember being fascinated by all the packaged baked goods, amazed that the selection was so huge. It was like being in a strange kind of food Disneyland having my very own income and anything I wanted to purchase at my fingertips.
My mother didn’t keep too many “goodies” in the house beyond what was packed in our lunches, and even then, variety was almost non-existent. And grocery stores in general were an oddity to me because she shopped at the Navy Commissary, and rarely took us with her.
So when I came across this recipe for crumb cake in an old magazine, I had to try it, remembering my long ago fascination with those oh-so-moist little cakes and the crumbly tops that make a sweet mess each time you sink your teeth into one.
There will be no hiding the fact that you’ve had your hand in the sweets!