Friday, November 18, 2011

Alex's Labyrinth Coffeecake

History indicates that it was Alexander the Great that discovered plantains.  Since this cake is filled with a maze or labyrinth of plantain puree, I felt the above name of this coffeecake to be very fitting.

Now, to describe the components of this coffeecake.  The cake part is airy and sweet, pretty much typical for most yeasted coffeecakes. The filling, however, is what usually makes a cake like this stand out.  To create the filling, plantains are cooked in a pan of butter, brown sugar and brandy.  Then they are pureed with all the syrup from the pan along with some ground cinnamon and vanilla extract.  The filling is smoothed onto the dough and then topped with toasted pecans and rolled up.  The top of the coffeecake laden with powdered sugar streusel.

The cake part has that light and airy texture with a touch of sweetness. You can taste the plantain filling along with the kick of brandy.  The filling is not too sweet because I wanted to retain a stronger, more natural taste of the plantains.  Should you want more sweetness, you can sprinkle more brown sugar onto the filling prior to rolling it up.

Alex's Labyrinth Coffeecake
by flourtrader

3 ripe plantains
1/4 cup plus 2 tbs butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup brandy
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 cups of chopped toasted pecans for sprinkling
extra brown sugar for sprinkling (optional)

To make filling:
 Place a saucepan over medium high heat and melt butter and add peeled plantains.  Lightly brown plantains, turning once.  Remove from heat and turn heat to low.   In a separate bowl, mix together the brandy, vanilla and cinnamon.  Place the saucepan over the low heat and add sugar.  Then pour in the brandy spice mixture. Turn heat to medium and cover plantains.  Cook for 30 minutes, turning and shifting plantains from time to time until the syrup gets thicker.  Remove from heat and let cool.

After plantains have cooled, place in food processor and pour in the pan syrup.  Pulse for about 2 minutes or until the mixture becomes a smooth paste.  Empty paste into a bowl and cover.  Place bowl in fridge while preparing bread dough for coffeecake.

3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp lemon juice
1 1/2 cups warm water
2 tbs rapid rise yeast
1 cup or 2 sticks of butter, softened and cubed
1/3 cup non fat dry milk
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup of sugar
2 1/2-3 cups of  regular flour
2 1/2 cups bread flour

1 beaten egg
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cup flour
4 tbs butter

Generously grease a 10 inch tube pan and set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, stir together the warm water and the yeast.  Let sit for about 2-3 minutes to dissolve and foam up.  Then whisk in eggs, sugar, salt, dry milk, vanilla extract and lemon juice.  Add the butter pieces and all of both types of flour.  Using a paddle attachment, beat the ingredients on low speed  for about 3 minutes or until combined.  You will have a sticky clump. Let the dough rest for about 15 minutes.

Change the batter blade in the mixer to a dough hook and knead the dough for 12 minutes on low speed.  You will need to periodically add some flour during this time to help create a smooth dough.  The dough will get to the point where it is no longer sticking to the side of the bowl.

Preheat the oven to 100 degrees and turn it off once it reaches that temperature. Place the dough in a well greased bowl and dot the outside of the bowl with a piece of the dough, marking where the dough level is inside the bowl. Cover with a towel and place inside the oven.  Let rise until dough has doubled in size, which should take about 45-60 minutes.

After the first rise, remove the dough from the bowl, punch down and place on a smooth, floured surface.  Cover with a towel and let rest for 10 minutes. While that is resting, remove plantain puree from fridge.

Then roll out dough into a 20 inch square.  Using a knife, or clean hands, smooth plantain puree on the surface of the dough.  Then sprinkle with toasted pecans and lightly press down so they stick onto the filling.  Should you want your filling to be sweeter, sprinkle a layer of brown sugar over the layer of nuts and press down lightly again.  Then roll up dough in jelly roll fashion.  Place dough in tube pan, arranging so it is fairly even, without a large overlap.

Now it is time to make the topping.  Whisk together flour and powdered sugar and cut in butter until it resembles coarse crumbs.

Preheat oven again to 100 degrees and turn off when temperature is met.  Brush the top of the dough with the beaten egg and then sprinkle with the topping. Lightly press down crumbs so they adhere to the dough. Then tear open one side of a gallon zip lock bag and place over the bowl of dough.  Put pan in oven and let dough rise until it is 1 inch over the top of the pan.  This should take about 45-60 minutes.

Once the second rise is completed, remove pan of dough from oven.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and place pan of dough on top.  Put in preheated oven and let bake 50-70 minutes or until golden brown.  Mine took about 60 minutes.  Remove baked coffeecake from oven and let cool on pan about 20 minutes.  Then invert cake onto baking sheet and then invert again onto serving platter. Slice and serve warm or cold.
                                       **LAST YEAR: Key Lime Bars**