Right now, things in my life are awfully uncertain.
We have no idea when The Hubble is going to get his orders. Which means we have no idea if the Army is going to move us or if we have to pay for me and Little Butt to move out of pocket.
We have put an application in on a house down in Texas, but we don't know the status.
I have no idea if I'm carrying a girl or a boy.
We don't know if The Hubble will be on the promotion list this year or not. Not knowing this means we don't know the timeline for the next couple of years.
And to top it all off, my niece has been in the hospital since Saturday and we don't know when she will be getting out.
It kills me not to be with her.
This little girl is more than a niece to me. And she's actually not a little girl. She's 19 years old with a husband and a baby of her own. But still.
When she was about 5 years old, my older sister got into some trouble and my mother got custody of my niece and nephew. My Jer Bear deployed to Kuwait shortly after and my mother worked a (more than) full time job. Along with my niece (then 5), my nephew (then 2), there was also my baby brother (then 4). I was 17 years old and took on the role of 'mom.'
I took the kids to school/daycare. Went to school myself. Picked them up from daycare. Made sure they did homework, ate dinner, had baths, went to bed on time. Then could I focus on my own schoolwork.
My mother was crazy busy at work and my younger sister was only 12.
It was a lot. But I loved those kids as if they were my own.
To this day, I constantly mix up my daughter's and my niece's names. That's how much my niece means to me. She's my baby as much as my older sister's and my mother's.
But I can't be with her. And it's driving me nuts.
But even through all this angst and uncertainty, there is one thing I can always count on...a delicious recipe from the Daring Bakers.
It may sound silly, but baking and cooking give me a sense of peace. If there is anything I can control in life, it is what I can create through food in the kitchen.
The March 2011 Daring Baker’s Challenge was hosted by Ria of Ria’s Collection and Jamie of Life’s a Feast. Ria and Jamie challenged The Daring Bakers to bake a yeasted Meringue Coffee Cake.
I tried to think a little outside the box with this challenge. I didn't want to do exactly what the recipe called for so I looked through my pantry and came up with some ideas.
I recently made some cupcakes that called for 3 Tablespoons of sweetened, condensed milk. Have you ever heard of a recipe that calls for a can of sweetened, condensed milk MINUS 3 Tablespoons? Me neither. I wanted to use it instead of wasting it so I made dulce de leche. Which then helped me decide on a 'Mexican' themed coffee cake with dulce de leche, cinnamon, chili powder and cocoa powder.
My love of pumpkin, the many cans I have stashed from the holidays and the bag of white chocolate chips gave birth to my pumpkin coffee cake.
My family can't handle 2 whole coffee cakes, but I wanted to make them both. So I took them to a friend's house. And also gave some to another friend.
All the reviews came back: the 'Mexican' one was good. The pumpkin one was amazing!
The pumpkin was also my favorite. But the 'Mexican' one was very fun. I think next time I would use chopped chocolate to get melty chocolate instead of the powder.
Wanna make your own?? You can either use the same ingredients I used or come up with your own fillings. Either way, have fun with it! Here we go!
Grab your ingredients: all purpose flour, sugar, whole milk, salt, eggs, active dry yeast, unsalted butter, vanilla and your filling ingredients.
Start by making the dough. In a large mixing bowl, combine the 1 1/2 cups of the flour, the sugar, salt and yeast.
In a medium saucepan combine the milk, water and butter until warm and the butter is just melted.
With the electric mixer on low, add the warm liquid mixture to the flour/yeast mixture. Beat until well blended, then raise the mixer to high and beat for about 2 minutes.
Add the eggs and another cup of the flour. Beat for another 2 minutes.
With a wooden spoon, mix in as much of the remaining 1 1/2 cups flour until a dough that sticks together is formed. I ended up using the entire 1 1/2 cups of remaining flour.
Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead for about 8-10 minutes until a smooth, soft, elastic dough forms.
Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl (I used olive oil cooking spray). Toss the dough to oil all sides. Cover in plastic wrap and a towel and let rise about 45-60 minutes...
Until the dough doubles in size.
When the dough has doubled, make the meringue. Throw the egg whites and salt in a clean mixing bowl. Beat with the whisk attachment on low speed for 30 seconds then turn the mixer up to high until the egg whites turn foamy and opaque.
At that point, add the vanilla...
And the 1/2 cup sugar (1 Tablespoon at a time)...
Until glossy, stiff peaks form.
Now, punch down the dough and half it. Working with one half (while the other half is still wrapped in plastic) place the dough on a lightly floured surface. Roll it out to a 20x10 inch rectangle.
Spread half the meringue over the dough.
Spread/sprinkle on the fillings. This one is dulce de leche, cinnamon, chili powder and cocoa powder.
Roll the dough, jelly roll style, from the long end. Pinch the seams to close. Bring the ends together and pinch them to seal them, creating a ring.
Carefully transfer the ring, seam side down, onto a prepared baking sheet.
Repeat this process with the remaining dough and fillings.
This one is pumpkin pie spice, pumpkin, white chocolate and walnut chips.
Once your rings are on the parchment lined baking sheets (each ring on it's own sheet) use kitchen shears or a sharp knife to cut slits in the dough in 1 inch intervals. Don't be afraid to cut deep into the dough.
Cover with plastic wrap and allow to bake 25-30 minutes until golden brown. When done, carefully transfer onto a cooling rack and allow to cool completely.
Immediately before serving, you can top with powdered sugar. I opted to skip that step.
This 'Mexican' coffee cake was good...
But the pumpkin was heaven!
Serve up your coffee cake with a good friend (or more) and enjoy!!
Yeasted Meringue Coffee Cake
Adapted from The Daring Kitchen
For the yeast coffee cake dough:
- 4 cups all purpose flour
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 package (2 1/4 teaspoon) active dry yeast
- 3/4 cup whole milk
- 1/4 cup water
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 2 large eggs, room temperature
For the meringue:
- 3 large egg whites, room temperature
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
- 1/2 cup sugar
For filling 1:
- 1 cup dulce de leche
- 2 Tablespoons cinnamon
- 1 Tablespoon chili powder
- 2 Tablespoons natural unsweetened cocoa powder
For filling 2:
- 1 Tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
- 1 cup pumpkin puree
- 1 cup white chocolate chips
- 1/2 cup walnut chips
Prepare the dough:
- In a large mixing bowl, combine 1 1/2 cups of the flour, the salt, sugar and yeast.
- In a saucepan combine the milk, water and butter. Heat over medium heat until it is 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 more minutes.
- Add the eggs and 1 cup flour, beat for another 2 minutes.
- Using a wooden spoon, stir in enough of the remaining 1 1/2 cups flour (I used it all) to make a dough that sticks together.
- Turn out onto a floured surface and knead for 8-10 minutes, until the dough smooth, elastic and soft. (Keep work surface floured and add more as needed).
- Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl (I used olive oil cooking spray) and turn to coat all sides of the dough. Cover with plastic wrap and a towel and allow to rise until double in size, about 45 minutes to an hour.
- In a clean mixing bowl (metal or plastic), beat the egg whites and the salt, first on low speed for 30 seconds, then increase to high until foamy and opaque.
- Add the vanilla, then start adding the 1/2 cup of sugar 1 Tablespoon at a time as you beat, until stiff peaks form.
- Line to baking sheets with parchment paper.
- Punch down the dough and divide in half.
- Working with one piece of the dough at a time (keep the other half wrapped in plastic), lightly flour a work surface and roll the dough out into a 20x10 inch rectangle.
- Spread half the meringue over the dough, up to about 1/2 inch away from the edge.
- Evenly spread/sprinkle your toppings over the meringue.
- Roll up the dough, jelly roll style, from the long side. Pinch the seams together to seal and bring the ends together and pinch to seal, forming a ring. Carefully transfer, seam side down, onto prepared baking sheet.
- Using kitchen shears or a sharp knife, make cuts along the outside edge at 1 inch intervals (don't be afraid to cut deep into the ring, but not through the other side).
- Repeat with the remaining dough and fillings.
- Cover rings with plastic wrap and let rise again for 45 minutes to an hour.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- Make an egg wash with a large beaten egg and 2 Tablespoons of water. Brush the tops of the rings with the egg wash.
- Bake in the preheated oven, 25-30 minutes or until golden brown.
- Remove from oven. Carefully transfer to a cooling rack and allow to cool completely.
- Immediately before serving, sprinkle with powdered sugar (if desired).
- Slice and enjoy!!
- These are best eaten fresh, or the next day.