I’m going to ignore my calendar for now, and assume that it’s not too late to talk about Christmas morning breakfast.
Christmas breakfast! You can totally do it. I’m going to show you the quickest and most painless way to put together a gorgeous, yeasted plum coffee cake for Christmas morning.
First, the yeast. If you’ve been around here for a while, you’ve heard me praise SAF red instant yeast to high heaven. Besides being slightly cheaper than active dry yeast, and acting more quickly, and not having to proof first — it only needs to rise once! That means you knead your dough, form it, let it rise, and bake. You’re done before you know what hit you.
Second, you can do 98% of the work ahead of time. So you wake up Christmas morning, preheat the oven, and throw on a couple of toppings. Twenty minutes later you have a nice, hot coffee cake to serve. I don’t have to tell you that’s cool. And I’ve got all the specifics down at the bottom of the recipe, if you’re interested.
Want to see how to do this?
First, take your fully-kneaded dough, and form it into a log.
Roll the log into a 4-foot rope, or snake, as the case may be.
Flatten it out a bit with your fingers. Don’t go overboard with the flattening like I sort of did.
Then twist it. This was my favorite part.
Form it into a spiral, starting in the middle and wrapping around. Tuck the end under.
Transfer to a baking sheet and let it rise, covered, until doubled in size.
I couldn’t get over how cool this looked, all puffed up and pretty.
Once it has risen, spread the cream cheese filling on top, place the plums, and sprinkle streusel over the whole thing.
Voila! Did I mention how quickly this comes together?
For the record, this was inspired by Annie’s gorgeous raspberry coffee cake that I’m sort of smitten with. It has been haunting my dreams for over a year now. And for good reason.
Plum Coffee Cake
(dough adapted from Lion House Bakery)
1 cup warm water
1/4 cup nonfat dry milk
1 tablespoon instant yeast
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons butter, room temperature
3 to 3-1/2 cups flour
For the cream cheese topping:
4 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
2 tablespoons sugar
dash of salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 (15-oz) can of whole purple plums
For the streusel:
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons butter, softened
In a large bowl, combine water, dry milk powder, yeast, sugar, salt, butter, egg, and 1 cup of the flour. Mix on low speed until ingredients are all incorporated. Stir in enough of the remaining flour to make a soft dough, not overly sticky, and not stiff. (The less flour you use, the softer your bread will be. To a point.) Knead until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 6-8 minutes.
Sprinkle work area lightly with flour. Form the dough into a log, then roll into a long rope, about 4 feet (1.3 meters). Flatten the rope slightly with your fingers, then twist. Form the twisted rope into a spiral and tuck the end under. Transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet (or use a silicone mat) and cover with a damp, lightweight towel. Let it rise until it has doubled in size.
Meanwhile, prepare the toppings. In a small bowl, combine the cream cheese, sugar, and salt. Cream them together and stir until completely smooth. Stir in the vanilla.
Slice the whole plums in half and remove the pits. Cut the plums into quarters and set aside.
In another small bowl, prepare the streusel. Combine the flour, brown sugar, and cinnamon. Gently cream the butter into the flour mixture, just until incorporated.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. When the dough is done rising, spread the cream cheese topping gently onto the dough. Arrange the plum pieces on top of the cream cheese, then sprinkle the streusel over the top. Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until the dough is golden brown.
Transfer to a wire rack to cool before slicing.
(**If you’re making this ahead of time, bake your formed dough (without the toppings) as soon as it has risen to double in size. Bake in a 325-degree oven for about 15 minutes. The dough should feel set, but should still look pale, not browned at all. Cool completely on the pan, then wrap it tightly in plastic wrap and freeze. The day before you need it, place it in the fridge, still wrapped, to thaw slowly overnight. Prepare your toppings then as well. The next morning, preheat your oven to 350 degrees, put the toppings on the coffee cake, and bake until the dough is golden brown, about 15-20 minutes.**)