This coffee cake is a tradition in my husband's family. His dad makes lots of them every year to give to neighbors and friends; I just made two but it definitely made our Christmas feel more festive! The yeast dough is tender and comes together easily, and it's filled with a cinnamon-sugar meringue filling and chopped pecans. I love how food can make me feel close to family even when we're not together in person. (I was 9 months pregnant this Christmas and so unable to travel.)
Pecan Coffee Cake (recipe from Grandma June)
Makes 2 coffee cakes
Heaping 1 tsp instant dry yeast
1/2 cup slightly warm milk
2 c all purpose flour
1/2 T sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 stick cold butter, cut into small cubes
For the filling:
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 cup pecans, toasted and chopped
Frosting: 1-1/2 cups powdered sugar, 2 T soft butter, a splash of vanilla, and 1-3 T milk
Whole pecans, toasted
1. Whisk the yeast into the milk and set aside.
2. Whisk together the flour, sugar, and salt. Cut in the butter (as for a pie crust).
3. Separate the eggs. Cover the egg whites and store in the refrigerator. Beat together 1-1/2 egg yolks, and then mix into the flour mixture. Reserve the extra egg yolk in the fridge.
4. Add the milk to the flour mixture and combine well. Place in a covered bowl and chill overnight.
5. The next day, separate the dough into two equal parts. For each part of the dough, roll into a rectangular shape about 12 inches long and 1/4-inch thick.
6. Beat together about 3/4 of the reserved egg whites. When the egg whites are very foamy, beat in the sugar and cinnamon. Spread half over each piece of pastry, and sprinkle half the pecans over each. Roll up like a jelly roll, pinching the ends and seams to seal.
7. Place seam-side down on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Let rest 1 hour.
8. Whisk the reserved egg yolk with 1/2 T water and brush on the coffee cakes. Bake in a 325 degree oven for 40 minutes, until lightly golden. Cool on a wire rack.
9. Whisk together the frosting ingredients and drizzle over the coffee cake. For a neater presentation, you can place in a Ziplock bag and cut off the corner. Arrange whole pecans on the frosting before it hardens.