For those of you who who personally know my husband and I, you know that this month, particularly the past two weeks, have been a bit of a challenge. For those of you who don’t know us, let me explain a bit. My husband is in med school, his last year to be exact, and is excited to graduate this May. And while we are ready to celebrate the passing of a ridiculous four year medical school carreer that, I am proud to say, my husband has worked really hard and done really well at, something far bigger looms in the future. Residency.
Whether or not you know how the Residency Match program works, I will spare you the gorey details. I’ll just let it be said that it was a ridiculous, stressful, emotional, and crazy process that I never ever want to go through again. By some crazy twists of fate, drama, and some ridiculousness that I won’t get into here, we didn’t get our first choice. We didn’t get our second choice. Hell, we didn’t even get our third choice. But we did get a spot! I am thankful that we matched a program, and my husband will be starting his residency this summer. However, this comes at a price, and this particular pricetag has a cost of about 700 miles. In June we will be packing up all of our belongings, waving goodbye to our friends and family and making a long 13 hour road trip to our new home in West Virginia.
I am trying really hard to be excited about this move, this grand adventure that my family will be undertaking. We are moving to a town with about 35,000 people in it, so it is definitely a smaller, more close-nit place than Kansas City, and it is surrounded by beautiful countryside and tons of parks. We have done lots of “reserach” on Google and Wikipedia, and it doesn’t seem like a bad little town.
But honestly, I’m having a really hard time being excited about this. Unlike my husband’s side of the family who likes moving across the far reaches of the globe, my adventerous side stops at vacationing and sight seeing and random short lived adventures. At the end of the day, I like knowing that my friends and family are close by. I like knowing that if my car breaks down, all I have to do is call and one of fifty plus people will be able come get me. Or swing by at 5am and let my dogs outside on their way to work. I can take that plunge into adventure, as long as I know that my rope is securely tied to my carefully laid foundation. Even when I moved three hours from home, I moved into the welcoming arms of family and friends that were already here waiting for me!
Whatever I do to try to psych myself up and get excited, the town just seems to beat me back down. There are no jobs out there for someone with a biology/chemistry degree. I have no idea what I am going to do there. Work at Walmart? I’m still weighing all my options and seeing what is out there. Hopefully a good option will present itself. And apparently the whole town hates dogs. Several people hung up the phone when I asked if their rental house would accept dogs. One guy went so far as to tell me I could offer him $10,000 and he would still say no. Then he had the audacity to tell me I was “shit out of luck if I thought I was going to find a place that would accept them…one maybe not not two” and that I might as well just get rid of them right now. You don’t even have to know me to know that is NOT an option.
I know that once we get out there, I will adjust and learn to like it. I am sure I will make some great new friends, that we will find a nice, safe, clean house to live in, that I will find a job (or stay at home…?), a daycare, and that we will be ok. Everything WILL work out! This isn’t the armegeddon, and in the grand scheme of things, I’m sure all this stress and worry and dragging of my feet will be for nothing. And I keep telling myself that it is only three years, if we totally hate it, we can always move back home. 🙂 So I don’t want you to think I’m depressed and unhappy, because I’m not. I’m just pouty.
So, if any of my blogging buddies live along the Ohio/West Virginia border – wanna hang? Anyway, on to this month’s challenge!!!!! (And as a side note, I am SOO excited the weather is finally nice enough to take photos outside again! Yay for good lighting!!)
When I saw the title of “Coffee Cake”, this was not what I expected. I expected a, well, cake! I would liken this more to a cinnamon roll type bread…thing. But whatever it’s name or classification, its good!! I really liked the meringue filling, and the chocolate, nuts and cinnamon-sugar worked beautifully in this! I am really glad that I followed this recipe as is instead of changing it up a bit, because I am pretty sure that this coffee “cake” is perfect!!
FILLED MERINGUE COFFEE CAKE
Makes 2 round coffee cakes, each approximately 10 inches in diameter but the recipe can easily be halved to make one round coffee cake
For the yeast coffee cake dough:
4 cups (600 g / 1.5 lbs.) flour
¼ cup (55 g / 2 oz.) sugar
¾ teaspoon (5 g / ¼ oz.) salt
1 package (2 ¼ teaspoons / 7 g / less than an ounce) active dried yeast
¾ cup (180 ml / 6 fl. oz.) whole milk
¼ cup (60 ml / 2 fl. oz. water (doesn’t matter what temperature)
½ cup (135 g / 4.75 oz.) unsalted butter at room temperature
2 large eggs at room temperature
For the meringue:
3 large egg whites at room temperature
¼ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon vanilla
½ cup (110 g / 4 oz.) sugar
For the filling:
1 cup (110 g / 4 oz.) chopped pecans or walnuts
2 Tablespoons (30 g / 1 oz.) granulated sugar
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup (170 g / 6 oz.) semisweet chocolate chips or coarsely chopped chocolate
1 beaten egg
Cocoa powder (optional) and confectioner’s sugar (powdered/icing sugar) for dusting cakes
Prepare the dough:
In a large mixing bowl, combine 1 ½ cups (230 g) of the flour, the sugar, salt and yeast.
In a saucepan, combine the milk, water and butter and heat over medium heat until warm and the butter is just melted.
With an electric mixer on low speed, gradually add the warm liquid to the flour/yeast mixture, beating until well blended. Increase mixer speed to medium and beat 2 minutes. Add the eggs and 1 cup (150 g) flour and beat for 2 more minutes.
Using a wooden spoon, stir in enough of the remaining flour to make a dough that holds together. Turn out onto a floured surface (use any of the 1 ½ cups of flour remaining) and knead the dough for 8 to 10 minutes until the dough is soft, smooth, sexy and elastic, keeping the work surface floured and adding extra flour as needed.
Place the dough in a lightly greased (I use vegetable oil) bowl, turning to coat all sides. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and a kitchen towel and let rise until double in bulk, 45 – 60 minutes. The rising time will depend on the type of yeast you use.
Prepare your filling:
In a small bowl, combine the cinnamon and sugar for the filling if using.
Chop your nuts and chocolate.
Once the dough has doubled, make the meringue:
In a clean mixing bowl – ideally a plastic or metal bowl so the egg whites adhere to the side (they slip on glass) and you don’t end up with liquid remaining in the bottom – beat the egg whites with the salt, first on low speed for 30 seconds, then increase to high and continue beating until foamy and opaque. Add the vanilla then start adding the ½ cup sugar, a tablespoon at a time as you beat, until very stiff, glossy peaks form.
Assemble the Coffee Cakes:
Line 2 baking/cookie sheets with parchment paper.
Punch down the dough and divide in half.
On a lightly floured surface, working one piece of the dough at a time (keep the other half of the dough wrapped in plastic), roll out the dough into a 20 x 10-inch (about 51 x 25 ½ cm) rectangle.
Spread half of the meringue evenly over the rectangle up to about 1/2-inch (3/4 cm) from the edges. Sprinkle half of your filling of choice evenly over the meringue (ex: half of the cinnamon-sugar followed by half the chopped nuts and half of the chocolate chips/chopped chocolate).
Now, roll up the dough jellyroll style, from the long side.
Pinch the seam closed to seal.
Very carefully transfer the filled log to one of the lined cookie sheets, seam side down. Bring the ends of the log around and seal the ends together, forming a ring, tucking one end into the other and pinching to seal.
Using kitchen scissors or a sharp knife (although scissors are easier), make cuts along the outside edge at 1-inch (2 ½ cm) intervals. Make them as shallow or as deep as desired but don’t be afraid to cut deep into the ring.
Repeat with the remaining dough, meringue and fillings.
Cover the 2 coffee cakes with plastic wrap and allow them to rise again for 45 to 60 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C).
Brush the tops of the coffee cakes with the egg wash. Bake in the preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes until risen and golden brown. The dough should sound hollow when tapped.
Remove from the oven and slide the parchment paper off the cookie sheets onto the table. Very gently loosen the coffee cakes from the paper with a large spatula and carefully slide the cakes off onto cooling racks. Allow to cool.
Just before serving, dust the tops of the coffee cakes with confectioner’s sugar as well as cocoa powder if using chocolate in the filling. These are best eaten fresh, the same day or the next day.