Friday, March 4, 2011

Avid Baker's Challenge: Old World Braided Coffee Cake

I've joined a second baking "club," the Avid Baker's Challenge. The ABCers bake a monthly selection from Flo Braker's Baking for All Occasions. The March cake is an Old World Braided Coffee Cake, page 166.

I was a little nervous about the braided finish and there isn't a picture in the book so I printed out some of the pictures on this artisan bread site to aid me as I went along. I work much better with a picture or two than by just reading - especially with something like this that seems complicated - so I wanted a little photo guidance. To my relief, the braiding actually turned out to be pretty easy (although my first strip was really tiny so I had to cut the last strips off and tuck them under the first two baby-strips).

Overall, this was a pretty easy cake/bread to make (it's called a coffee cake but the texture is more like a bread, in my opinion) and a small piece was very filling...I can't wait to have another slice tomorrow morning with coffee. The dough itself sort of reminded me of a Portuguese sweet bread - which I love - but the filling was a bit too "wet" for my taste and did not really meld or get incorporated into the dough like most coffee cakes I've had. I think that's why it seemed more like a bread with a nutty-cinnamon filling.

So, even though it wasn't quite what I expected in the end, I really liked working with the dough - it was so well behaved and easy to roll out. I think if I try this one again I would skip adding the egg whites to the nut mixture, use a little less cream, and then maybe roll it up like a roulade, slice it and bake it like cinnamon buns and then top it off with some cream cheese icing. I think adding some lemon zest to the dough and lemon juice to the filling would also be delicious.

mise en place for the dough

sticky sticky sticky dough

ready to knead

five minutes (of kneading) is a long time, but it came out nice and smooth

I used pecans instead of walnuts

finely ground

I also added some freshly ground nutmeg

mise en place for the filling

time for a wine dee da...

nuts and cream mixture, waiting for the whipped egg whites

first rise done and ready to roll out
(didn't exactly double in size, but my fingertip indentation remained in the dough)

it was so easy to manage this dough (unlike my poor Kouign Amann)

something went wrong with cutting my first little strip but the rest was easy


baked to a golden brown

it smells so delicious


time to sample a slice

Bye for now...


  1. Yay! Great job. The loaf looks really nice. I wasn't quite sure what to expect either. I thought the filling was a bit on the runny side too and ended up holding back on about 1/2 cup of it. The "bready" part was really good. I added orange zest to it and can think of many other uses for this dough. It was a breeze to work with! Thanks again for joining ABC :o) I hope you enjoy the other ABC recipes just as much.

  2. Thanks, Vicki!

    And, thanks Hanaa. You were so smart to leave out some of the filling, great idea! I wasn't sure if it would be absorbed by the dough so I just decided to go for it, but I think you had the right idea. I'll bet the orange zest was delicious as well.

  3. Your coffee cake/bread :) turned out gorgeous!

  4. Thanks, Chelly! I'm having some now - 2 days later - and it's actually still very good. The dough is still quite moist and I like the filling better now than on the day I made it :) Good to know it can be made in advance, wrapped up in foil and refrigerated and will still be good!