A Classic Yeast-Risen Coffee Cake
Figs are underrated. Fresh or dried they bring a chewy, richness to baked goods and desserts. This yeast-based bread from Kim Laidlaw’s Home Baked Comfort uses dried figs. And while it seems contradictory, you want to buy moist and plump dried figs. They should yield easily with a nice cushiony texture under your finger when pressed. They will feel firm, but should show some give. The cardamom is a fragrant, warm spice that loses its potency quickly. Buy what you need in bulk from a store with high turnover for the best – and most economical – results. We found that this bread freezes well; consider doubling the recipe to have one for later. Check out Kim’s Sour Cherry “Toaster” Tarts as well.
Excerpted with permission. Home Baked Comfortby Kim Laidlaw. Published by Weldon Owen. Photos by Eric Wolfinger.
- 1 cup (8 fl oz⁄250 ml) whole milk, warmed (110°F⁄43°C)
- 1 package (2 ¼ tsp) active dry yeast
- ⅓ cup (3 oz⁄90 g) sugar, plus more for sprinkling
- 3 ½ cups (17 ½ oz ⁄ 545 g) all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 1 tsp ground cardamom
- 3 large eggs
- 6 tbsp (3 oz⁄90 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into chunks
- 11⁄2 cups (9 oz⁄280 g) quartered dried figs
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, stir together the milk, yeast, and 1⁄3 cup sugar. Let stand until foamy, about 10 minutes.
- In another bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, and cardamom. Add the dry ingredients and 2 of the eggs to the yeast mixture. Attach the dough hook and knead the dough on medium-low speed until it starts to look shaggy. While continuing to knead, add the butter. Knead until the dough is fairly smooth, about 10 minutes. Dump the dough onto a floured work surface and flatten into a disk. Scatter the figs over the dough and gather it into a ball. Knead the dough gently to incorporate the figs. Gather the dough into a ball, transfer to an oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise in a warm, draft-free spot until doubled, about 1 hour.
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Dump the dough onto the lightly floured work surface and divide it into 3 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a rope about 16 inches (40 cm) long. Lay the ropes next to each other, touching, on the work surface. Braid the ropes together, tucking the ends underneath the braid. Place on the prepared pan, cover loosely with a kitchen towel, and let rise until puffy, about 45 minutes.
- Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350°F (180°C). In a small bowl, beat the remaining egg with a little water. Brush the dough gently with the egg wash, then sprinkle generously with sugar. Bake until golden brown, about 35 minutes. Let cool completely on a wire rack before slicing.
- This braided loaf makes a stunning presentation and is easier to make than you might think. It’s based on the traditional cardamom-spiked breads from Sweden and Finland, with luscious dried figs added for some sparkle.
- For a more traditional cardamom bread, omit the figs and top the bread with sliced almonds or toasted walnuts just before baking, then drizzle with vanilla glaze after the bread cools for a bit. You can also top it with coarse sugar before baking.