Vanilla Morning Cake With Poached Quince Fruit

chemex coffee pour-over behind a slice of cake
Morning Cake & Coffee
‘Tis the season to be folly, Fa-La-La, and sooo,  we eat cake for breakfast! Follow me in merry measure as I attempt to emulate the genius of two of my favorite baking sources in decking out a coffeecake for this cheerful season.

celebrate cake
Before making this cake, I had never made a coffeecake and I had never tasted poached quince fruit. First, I turn to David Leibovitz’s blog for general poaching ingredients and instructions, and then, King Arthur Flour, for an easy sour cream coffeecake recipe. I couldn’t help but embellish both recipes to embody the contrasts among a season of generosity and indulgence.

The starting point for this cake is part of my early mornin breakfast routine. Everyday I pour myself a big glass of Siggi’s filmjölk – don’t worry about pronouncing that, it’s Swedish – I just call it yogurt drank. I love the tangy, yet buttery flavor, subtle sweetness and thinner-than-yogurt-thicker-than-milk consistency, but also, I appreciate getting a healthy dose of protein first thing in the morning, and calcium too. Cultured milk is better for our bellies, acting as a probiotic. These 5 AM baker shifts require strength and stamina, so ya gotta fuel up those muscles and bones and, most importantly, arrive to work awake and alert! I can do that thanks to Siggis. Ya see, I love Filmjölk so much, I naturally craved experimenting with it in a baked good.

Still stuck on breakfast, the mind wonders, “Where’s the coffee though?”, my first priority in the mornings, if I’m being honest. So now we’ve got cultured milk and coffee getting to know one another. At this point, I’m all consumed by the first meal of the day. I decide to give in to the tide; relinquishing my racing thoughts, I am pulled into my kitchen and I begin to craft a morning coffeecake made in the name of BREAKFAST, not brunch. Coffee beans, Siggis Filmjölk, oats and pecans find their way into my mixing bowls, united at last.

I hope you may feel inspired to make a coffeecake of your own! You can poach pears for a lovely seasonal variation, or substitute your favorite milk or yogurt product for the Filmjölk. There is also a myriad of different texture inducing ingredients to be incorporated in your streusel topping. Have fun and use your favorite breakfast items to create a morning cake made of your waking dreams. Bon appétit!

love,

Chrystina

oat, pecan and coffee streusel crumbs

overhead shot of a slice of morning cake on a plate
regardez le coing – look at the quince!

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Vanilla Skyrr Morning Cake With Poached Quince Fruit

Course Breakfast
Cuisine American
Prep Time 1 hour
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 2 hours
Servings 8
Author Chrystina

Ingredients

Poaching

  • 1 3/4 cups water
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1/4 lemon
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 star anise
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2 quince fruits peeled, cored and quartered

Streusel Topping

  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar firmly packed
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon coffee beans medium ground
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup oats
  • 1/2 cup pecans chopped
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter

Cake

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup Siggis vanilla skyrr
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Instructions

Poached Quince Fruit

  1. Fill a saucepan with water, sugar, honey, lemon, vanilla extract, star anise and a cinnamon stick. Stir the pot and bring this mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat on your stove top to maintain a simmer. Add your quince fruit to the simmering liquid. Place a cut out round of parchment paper on top of the fruit to keep them submerged in their poaching liquid. Simmer the quince for about an hour before checking their tenderness. You want them to be easily pierced with a pairing knife and a blush color. If they are not tender enough, continue simmering, checking their tenderness every fifteen minutes, until they are done to your liking. Pour the liquid and the fruit into a bowl; set aside to cool.

Streusel Topping

  1. Combine the sugars, cinnamon, ground coffee, salt, oats and chopped pecans in a large bowl. Toss in your butter and work it into the mixture with your fingertips, the way you would for a pie dough, leaving chunks of butter to form yummy streusel clumps; it should be extremely crumbly. Sit aside until you have your cake batter in the tin.

Cake Batter

  1. Beat your butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy, using an electric mixer. Beat in the eggs one at a time. Whisk to combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a separate mixing bowl. Mix vanilla extract into the Siggis vanilla skyrr in a small bowl.

  2. Add about a third of the dry ingredients mixture to the butter, sugar, and egg bowl, stirring on low speed, and pour in a third of the vanilla skyrr. Alternate adding the dry ingredients and the wet ingredients into the bowl of your stand mixer until everything is incorporated in a smooth batter. Do not mix it vigorously or for too long.

Assembly

  1. Pre heat your oven to 350. Grease and line a large loaf pan with parchment paper. Artfully arrange your quince in the bottom of the pan or however you would like to do it really. I left mine in large chunks so that the blushing color wouldn't get overlooked. Pour half of your batter into the pan and over the quince fruit. Smooth the batter down and sprinkle half of the streusel topping evenly over it. Pour the rest of your batter into the pan, smooth it out again and sprinkle the rest of the streusel on top. Place your cake on the middle rack in the oven and bake for 40-50 minutes. Check to make sure it's done baking by inserting a toothpick and withdrawing it. It is done when the toothpick comes out clean. Allow the cake to cool for at least 10 minutes before turning it out of the pan.

 

Baklava Boast

Ambition is the essential ingredient for executing this recipe. Lucky for me, I’m F******ambitious. Are you? Never too ambitious, I don’t think that exists, yet I do have a nasty habit of blaming ambition when a finished product doesn’t reflect the original image or idea in my minds eye. In reality we should just castaway expectations, but remain rooted in the process of creation, enjoying those fleeting moments themselves. Easier said than done, but we’ll practice! So with this one, do whatever you gotta do to tear down the dam of doubt built up in your mind, which may constrain your ability to coax thin layers of delicate pastry out of a lump of dough. Unlock the floodgates, lead the rebellion, so that you may find creative liberation abreast a mighty wave of ambition coursing on through this project.

layers of crispy pastry and nuts in hand, a single piece of baklava
layers of crispy pastry and nuts = baklava

This baklava really tastes delicious, as delicious as fallen leaves in the forest smell to me this time of year. It bakes up super crispy and one bite is like jumping into the biggest pile of raked, crunchy leaves; they are equally harmonic, rippling experiences. I intentionally made the final 3 layers of phyllo dough extra thick so that you feel a real rustic crunch in your mouth.

The flavor even has me recalling the taste of apple pies, although there is no fruit in this recipe. I think the fruity essence comes from the special honey I use; rather than using sugar to make a syrup, as it is done traditionally, I choose to substitute Killer Bees Sourwood Honey for sweetness, and you should use some quality local honey too, if you are fortunate enough to have a jar around.

four arranged pieces of baklava with honey drizzled on top
honey drizzle

Clear a large work space for all of your rolling, slicing, and assembling. Then take a deep breath. At the top of your breath consider the image of your exalted expectations, if there is any, and then knock over the pedestal, let go of your breath, exhaling completely, as the image of your perfect baklava crashes onto the floor in a million crispy pieces. Take another deep breath, feel the soothing capability running through your hands up to your fingertips, exhale, and GO!

a measuring tape, rectangle of phyllo dough and pizza cutter
a piece of dough measuring 18″ by 13″
slicing phyllo dough with a pizza cutter on top of a cloth and table
slicing the rectangle in half to make 2 layers of phyllo pastry
holding up dough to see its depth of transparency
see-through, super thin phyllo dough
assembling the layers of baklava with phyllo dough being carefully place on top
layering phyllo on top of the nut filling to create layers
single piece of baklava nex to arranged fall leaves
Fall phyllo pastry
a close up of baklava layers, dripping in honey
brilliant layers of nuts, pastry and honey
the crispy cooked bottom of a baklava
a caramelized underside

The phyllo dough recipe has been adapted from Serious Eats’ Austrian Apple Strudel recipe. Although people generally use store bought phyllo dough instead,  I choose to make it because I had fantastic results recreating the magical strudel made in Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them with this recipe.

Please let me know if you are baking along! I would love know about your trials and triumphs in pastry land, so that we can learn together.

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Baklava

Course Dessert
Cuisine Mediterranean
Prep Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 2 hours 30 minutes
Servings 30 pieces
Author Chrystina

Ingredients

For the phyllo dough:

  • 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 10-12 tablespoons lukewarm water

For the filling:

  • 1 pound mixed nuts, I used walnuts and almonds
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground clove
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 1/4 cups unsalted butter

For the finishing syrup:

  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1 cinnamon stick

Instructions

  1. Mix the flour and salt together, on low speed in the bowl of your stand mixer with the paddle attachment. Drizzle all of the olive oil and almost all of the water into the mixing bowl while it is on low speed. If your dough is not coming together and seems too dry, add a tablespoon of water at a time until you get a shaggy dough that wants to stick together. Once the dough becomes a shaggy mass, turn off the mixer and switch from using the paddle to the dough hook attachment. Knead your dough on medium speed for about 5 minutes or until it feels and looks soft, smooth and elastic. If your dough is too sticky and wet, add a bit more flour and continue kneading until your dough feels right. Shape the dough into a ball, coat it with a bit more olive oil and place covered in a bowl in your refrigerator to rest for at least one hour.

  2. In a small sauce pot combine lemon juice, water, honey and a cinnamon stick. Cook over medium heat until *almost* boiling, then reduce the heat to medium/low and continue cooking for  5 minutes. Remove your syrup from the heat and let it cool completely.

  3. Chop the nuts into very small bits and place in a medium bowl with cinnamon, clove and sugar; mix everything together and then divide it into 5 even-ish portions. Melt your butter in a separate bowl.

  4. After resting the phyllo for an hour, weigh the entire dough ball and then divide it into 10 even portions. Lightly flour your counter top. You may also want to lightly flour your rolling pin or the top of the dough if it is too sticky.

  5. Begin rolling out the first portion of dough into the biggest rectangle you can muster. Once you can't take it any farther with your pin, begin stretching the dough from the center with both hands as your fingertips gently pull outwards towards the edges on the underside of the dough. Continue the motion of stretching the dough with your fingertips, while maintaining a rectangular shape until your single piece of dough is 18" X 13". With a pizza slicer or a large, sharp knife divide your rectangle in half so that you end up with two 9" X 13" rectangles.
  6. Generously butter your baking tray and place one phyllo rectangle down in it, lining up the edges of the dough to meet the edges and corners of the rectangle pan as closely as you are able. Use a basting brush to generously butter the exposed side of your first phyllo layer. Top it with the second 9" X 13" layer of phyllo, lining it up with the edges and corners again, as well as generously buttering the exposed upper-side of the dough. Repeat this process with the next 2 portions of dough: rolling out, stretching, dividing, laying down and lining up, and finally buttering.

  7. Now you have used 3 out of 10 of your dough portions and created 6 thin layers of phyllo dough as your base to begin topping with your nut filling. Evenly distribute the first portion of nut filling (1/5 of the total amount) in a layer topping your phyllo base.
  8. Repeat the directions in steps 5, 6, and 7 working with one portion of dough at a time. You should build on your base of 6 phyllo layers and nut filling with 2 phyllo layers topped with another 1/5 portion of nut filling. Repeat this pattern 3 additional times. By the end of this step you should end up with:

    6 layer phyllo base, nut filling,

    2 layers of phyllo, nut filling,

    2 layers of phyllo, nut filling,

    2 layers of phyllo, nut filling,

    2 layers of phyllo, nut filling. 

  9. The remaining 3 portions of dough must now be extended as you did in step 5, however, you only need to stretch each portion into a single 9" X 13" rectangle; you do not need to divide your rectangle into 2 pieces and you do not have to stretch it as far in the first place. Work with one portion of dough at a time: rolling out, stretching to 9" X 13" rectangle, laying down and lining up and finally buttering.Repeat this process twice more, until you are out of phyllo dough. In totality you will have made 17 layers of phyllo dough and 5 layers of nut filling to complete your baklava.

  10. Preheat the oven to 350. Be sure to generously butter the top layer of phyllo. Using a sharp chefs knife, make 4-6 vertical cuts from the top to bottom, orienting the tray so that the lines run parallel to the longest sides of the tray. Be sure to make clean cuts all the way through to the last, bottom layer of phyllo dough. Make another set of 4-6 diagonal lines, cutting all the way through, in order to create a tray of diamond shaped pieces.
  11. Place on the middle rack in your oven and bake for about an hour, or until crisp and golden brown. After removing your baklava from the oven, immediately pour your cooled syrup over top of the entire tray as evenly as possible. You can top it with more chopped nuts at this point if you wish. Let your baklava sit to cool and congeal for at least 4 hours.

A special thanks to my love, Christian, for capturing photos of the phyllo dough layering process :*