Sunday, April 17, 2011

A Spring Brunch

This weekend we celebrated the glorious spring weather in Colorado with a brunch gathering out in the backyard. Really, it was just a good excuse to try out some recipes that we'd been salivating over.

An Early Spring Brunch Menu

Sarah pulled out all the stops with her pick, a decadent almond cream coffeecake. (This brunch was definitely not for those who are sugar-averse. We got a little over excited about baking!) This one came from and was originally from Cook's Country.

It is a yeasted coffee cake (as opposed to a more quick-bread style coffee cake), filled with an almond cream and drizzled with cream cheese icing and toasted almonds.

Almond Cream Coffee Cake

Yield: 2 coffee cakes, each serves 8.  Before the final rise (*noted in instructions below), the coffee cakes can be frozen for future use if desired.
  • 1 tube almond paste (7 ounces). We used our homemade almond paste
  • 6 tbsp. confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 tbsp. dark brown sugar
  • 1½ tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 4 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1 1/3 cups warm milk (110ºF)
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1 stick (½ cup) unsalted butter, melted
  • 3 egg yolks (reserve whites for topping)
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 4½ cups flour, plus extra for work surface
  • 1 package rapid-rise or instant yeast
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 3 large egg whites
  • ½ cup sliced almonds
  • 1½ cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 2 tbsp. milk
  • ½ tsp. vanilla extract
For the filling Fit stand mixer with paddle attachment and mix almond paste, confectioners’ sugar, dark brown sugar, cinnamon, and cream cheese until smooth.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to use. For the dough Adjust oven rack to upper-middle and lower-middle positions and heat oven to 200ºF.  When oven reaches 200, shut it off.  Lightly grease large bowl with nonstick cooking spray.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Mix milk, honey, melted butter, yolks, and vanilla in large measuring cup.  Mix flour, yeast, and salt in bowl of standing mixer fitted with dough hook.  Turn mixer to low and slowly add milk mixture.  After dough comes together, increase speed to medium and mix until shiny and smooth, 4 to 6 minutes.  (Dough will be sticky.)  Turn dough onto heavily floured work surface, shape into ball, and transfer to greased bowl.  Cover bowl with plastic wrap and place in turned-off oven until dough is nearly doubled, about 20 minutes. On lightly floured work surface, divide dough into 2 equal pieces.  Working with one piece at a time, roll dough into 18-by-9-inch rectangle with long side facing you.  Spread with half of filling and roll up dough.  Brush top edge with water, then press to seal and transfer, seam side down, to parchment lined baking sheet.  Repeat with remaining dough and filling.  Shape each cylinder into a ring or horseshoe. *Once dough is shaped into a horseshoe, it can be wrapped in foil and frozen for future use.
Using paring knife, make cuts around outside of dough, about 1½ inches apart, leaving about an inch of intact dough at the top of your cut.  In other words you are making slices but keeping the cake together as one unit.  With your fingers, turn each “slice” of dough so that the filling is showing. Cover with plastic wrap coated with cooking spray and return to oven until rings have puffed slightly, about 30 to 40 minutes.  Remove from oven and heat oven to 375ºF. For the topping, whisk reserved egg whites in a small bowl, then brush rings with egg whites.  Sprinkle with almonds and bake until deep brown, about 25 minutes, switching and rotating pans halfway through baking. 
For the Icing While rings are baking or cooling, whisk confectioners’ sugar, cream cheese, milk, and vanilla in small bowl until smooth.  Drizzle icing over baked coffee cakes and serve warm.
The raspberry jam scones are an old favorite of mine from the no longer in print Hay Day Country Market Cookbook. These scones are made with cream, not butter, so they are very tender. The dough is also unsweetened, but the raspberry jam filling more than makes up for that.
The lemon cake {recipe here} is from a cookbook that I just bought and that I am very excited about: French Farmhouse Cookbook by Susan Herrmann Loomis. While perusing through my copy of Bittman's How to Cook Everything, I read Bittman's high praise of this book. I've been wanting a good French cookbook for a while so I immediately ordered a used copy through Amazon. This book is also sadly out of print. The lemon cake was my very first recipe out of this book and it was absolutely delicious. I can't wait to try out more in the near future.


  1. Which one would I want to get from amazon? Hardcover? Paperback? Looking forward to ordering one, thanks for the recommendation!

  2. I ordered a paperback because I am cheap and I think they are easier to use in the kitchen. :)

  3. This is decadent brunch! Too delicious, way too yummy and I need to be serve that soon! :)

  4. Those scones look fabulous! I'm definitely going to have order that cookbook.

    Have you read Loomis' On Rue Tatin? I highly recommend it. I reviewed it here a few years ago. Be sure to click on the final link to read about her cooking classes!

  5. I'll definitely have to check out that book!

  6. Wow! This looks delicious! I have to taste it and also dream about the summer.. :)


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