Elevenses: A Challenge I Didn't Even Have to Think About.

Last week, I read about the history in England of 'elevenses' thanks to Buttermilk Party Cake. I feel I'd fit right in over the pond, since eating 5 times a day - two of them containing a baked good of some sort - sounds pretty enticing to me. Personally, I love the Hobbit-ish ideal of "Second Breakfast", and if I have a sweet around, usually have it in the morning between breakfast and lunch.

Frequently when I visit my Parent's home, there are all sorts of wonderful things, indeed an array, of desserts to be sampled and enjoyed. Since my Mom knows I love any and all sweet notions, she bakes up a storm in anticipation of my arrival. Of course I would think it's all for me, but the truth is, I get my sweet tooth from both my Mom and Dad. They often have desserts (plural) around, even if they would be frozen when you happen to drop in.

Last week was no exception, and on the train ride over, I half expected this Poppy Seed Coffeecake to be on the counter when I got in. I wasn't disappointed. There it sat, in all it's fresh-baked glory, fat with a poppy seed middle and spiked on top with almond extract glaze. When I say that this could be my most favorite thing to eat in the baked category, I would not be far off. I almost could hate seeing it there, since I know full well on first glimpse that almost the whole pastry will end up in my belly. Here is the beautiful specimen she created:

My Dad, strangely, doesn't care for poppy seeds, so to my fortune, half the cake was all mine (well, and my Mom's). The other half was filled with apricot for him, and I carefully left it all for his enjoyment. This dessert is really best the day it is made, but I will still happily gobble it up with coffee as it "stales gracefully", to borrow a quote from Jim Lahey. It can please a number of people, since you can fill it with any kind of filling. My favorite is Solo Poppy Seed filling, but any homemade preserve or filling would also work.

Buttermilk Party Cake is hosting an "Elevenses Roundup" with favorite reader recipes to be posted on June 11th. When I saw my favorite baked good sitting there on my Mom's counter, I knew right away what I was going to submit to Stephfret. Do you have a favorite to submit to her by the 10th? The link above will lead you to a charming English world, another of my new favorite food blogs, and also tell you how to enter your dessert for elevenses viewing.

My Mom uses an old-fashioned bread roll dough as the "cake", which you could also decide to form into rolls if you like. The other fun thing about this recipe is that you can use any number of coffee cake forming methods. We like to make a ring and carefully slice most of the way through. To make it look a bit fancier, you can give each cut portion a half twist so that the spiral filling faces upward. However you fix it, it's not going to last long.

This is an enriched yeast dough, but is fairly forgiving. You can also store it in the refrigerator for up to 3 days, though my Mom prefers to use it straight away. Feel free to experiment with all manner of fillings: cinnamon-raisin rolls, or orange rolls, strawberry or raspberry filling, the possibilities are endless! Also keep in mind you can form it into a ring as I do, or any other traditional coffeecake shape, taking into account the thickness to which you roll it.

Poppy Seed Coffeecake (from the kitchens of Dolores Mendez and June Orlikowski)

makes enough dough for two coffeecake "rings" or 24 rolls
  • 1 cup skim milk, scalded
  • 1/4 c. sugar
  • 1/4 c. oil
  • 1 t. salt
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 3 1/2 c. AP flour
  • 1 scant T. yeast (active dry, or instant)
  • 1/4 c. warm water
  • 1 can Solo Poppy Seed filling
In a small saucepan, scald milk. In the bowl of a stand mixer, add hot milk, oil, sugar, and salt and let the mixture cool until tepid, about 110 degrees f. Once mixture has cooled, add yeast and water mixture and beaten egg. Then, add 1 1/2 flour and beat well to incorporate ingredients using the mixer's paddle attachment. Then begin to add the rest of the flour. You may not need to add it all, you are just looking for a nice cohesive dough that is soft and not too sticky. Turn it out onto a floured surface, and knead by hand, added flour if necessary to create a nice soft dough that isn't sticky.

At this point, you can roll it out or store it in the refrigerator. If you are going to use it right away, place dough in a lightly oiled bowl, and let rise covered with a tea towel in a warm place until doubled, 1-2 hours. (If you are refrigerating the dough, let it come to room temperature and then proceed.) Cut the dough into two portions, and working one at a time, roll the dough into a large rectangle about 1/4 inch thick. Spread the filling evenly over the surface, leaving a 1/2 inch border all the way around. Roll up into a long log, and gently join the ends into a ring. Slice portions evenly around the ring starting at the outside edge, without cutting through the middle, at about 1 1/2 intervals.

Cover with a towel and let raise in a warm place until about doubled, about an hour depending on the room temperature.

Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes until nicely browned. The time may vary based on your shape.

When it has cooled, you can glaze it with a simple powdered sugar glaze. My family doesn't use a recipe for this, so I will tell you our very uncomplicated method... The cornstarch in the powdered sugar acts as a thickener, requiring very little effort and a completely to taste recipe:

Coffeecake Glaze:
  • confectioner's sugar
  • milk
  • almond extract (or vanilla)
To an amount of confectioner's sugar, add as much almond extract as you like, I like a lot! - in fact I don't even measure, I just pour it in and keep tasting until the almond suits me. Then, while stirring with a spoon, add enough milk to make it glaze consistency. Drizzle it over your cooled coffeecake (or bundt cake, or any other cake needing a glaze... adding some cocoa powder to the powdered sugar if you'd like a chocolate glaze).

When storing any leftovers, just lay a sheet of waxed paper over the top - otherwise the glaze can become sticky.

You can garnish your coffeecake with nuts or seeds, whatever would complement your filling and look nice. And should you be a bit phobic about baking with a yeasted bread, don't be. This is a perfect dough for practicing, since it will no doubt be edible no matter your trepidation... If you have a favorite enriched dough, (or even a store-purchased one) I'm sure you will also have good results to enjoy with your tea or coffee for your next elevenses.