Much like last year, I had a good amount of cranberry sauce left over from our Thanksgiving meal. With last year’s leftovers I made a batch of cranberry white chocolate chip muffins that we totally loved. I wanted to make them again this year, but I also couldn’t shake the feeling that I wanted to experiment and try something new. And when it comes to baking experiments in my kitchen it’s go big or go home. I settled on a fun “all day” sort of project, Yeasted Coffee Cake with Cranberry Cream Cheese Filling.
My first attempt was delicious, but….. ugly. I rolled the dough a touch too thin, added a touch too much filling, and chose an odd shape that resulted in a whole lot of spillage. To be honest, I was pretty bummed. I had visions of gorgeous golden brown cake and what I had was a mound – of deliciousness, but still a mound. You know the saying, if at first you don’t succeed…. So I was back in the kitchen on Tuesday. There was still some spillage, but the overall cake was much more aesthetically pleasing.
The only thing not pictured is a simple vanilla glaze. It was an after thought but really added a nice sweetness to the tart cranberries. I’ll include it in the recipe below and let you decide if you want to use it or not.
Oh and one last thing, yes this can be somewhat time consuming, with the multiple risings and steps, but don’t let that scare you! Most of the time is just spent waiting! To me the most challenging part was shaping the dough, but that was also the most fun!
2 1/4 tsp instant yeast
2 Tbsp warm water
1/4 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 Tbsp milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups plus 2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp salt
8 Tbsp unsalted butter, softened but still cool, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 egg plus 1 tablespoon milk for egg wash
3/4-1 cup leftover cranberry sauce (about half of that recipe)*
Cream Cheese Filling
4 oz cream cheese, softened but still cool
2 Tbsp sugar
4 tsp all-purpose flour
1 tsp finely grated lemon zest (optional, I excluded)
1/2 egg (lightly beat one egg and use half)
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1-2 tsp milk
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
*If your cranberry sauce is extra liquidy, drain of some of the excess liquid using a mesh sieve.
In the bowl of a standing mixer, fitted with a paddle attachment, add the warm water and yeast. Stir to dissolve. Add the sugar, egg, vanilla, and milk and stir with the mixer on low speed. With the mixer still on low speed, add 1 1/2 cups flour and salt and mix for 1 minute. Increase speed to medium-low and add the butter, one piece at a time, until fully incorporated. Change the attachment to the dough hook, taking the time to scrape down the sides of the bowl a little bit. Add the remaining flour and knead on medium-low speed for about 5 minutes. Increase the speed to medium and knead for 2 more minutes.
Using a strong spatula, transfer the dough to a lightly oiled straight sided dish. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and set in a warmish area (an off oven with the light turned on is a great place) to rise until doubled in size, about 3 hours. Press down the down and transfer to a lightly oiled baking sheet, spreading so the dough is about 1 inch thick. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled, about 2 hours. (Can also be left in the original dish and chilled for 4-24 hours in the fridge)
While the dough is chilling, make cranberry sauce (if not using left overs) and cream cheese filling. To make the cream cheese filling, beat together the cream cheese, sugar, flour, and salt, until smooth. Add the egg, zest, and vanilla and beat until combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Chill thoroughly before using.
Remove the dough from the fridge and place on a lightly floured surface. Pat into a rough rectangle then roll with a rolling pin into a 15 by 9 inch rectangle, about 1/4 inch thick. Use your hands or a dough scraper to straighten the edges of the dough. Spread cranberry sauce over surface of the dough, leaving about at least a 1/2 inch border around the edges. Over top of the cranberry, spread a layer of cream cheese filling.
Use both hands to roll the dough, lengthwise, into a log. Transfer the log to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, or a silpat, and use your hands to carefully shape the log into a U shape. Using clean kitchen scissors, cut 2/3 of the way into the dough along the outside of the U shape (about 2 inches apart). Carefully lift and slightly separate the sections so they are just slightly fanned (this is where some of my cranberry sauce started to leak out – I was worried but it was fine). Cover with plastic wrap and allow to proof for about 1 1/2 – 2 hours, or until slightly puffed.*
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Brush dough with egg wash. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until the top is a nice golden brown. If it seems to be browning too much too fast, cover with foil halfway through baking. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.
For the glaze, simply use a fork to mix together the powdered sugar, milk, and vanilla. Drizzle over the top of the cake before serving.
*After proofing, the cake can be kept in the fridge overnight to be baked in the morning.