Rich Coffeecake with Sweet Cheese Filling

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Rich Cheesecake with Sweet Cheese Filling
Makes 2 cakes, each serving 8 to 10

The finished cakes freeze beautifully, so you can make the full amount of dough, bake two cakes, and freeze one for later.  Or the recipe can be halved.  Between rising, shaping, and proofing, preparing these cakes is time-consuming, though not at all labor-intensive.  An early morning start will let you make, rise, shape, proof, and bake the dough all in one day.  Alternatively, you can refrigerate the shaped, proofed loaf overnight and bake it the next morning for breakfast. 

Rich Coffeecake Dough
2 envelopes (about 4 1/2 tsp) instant yeast
1/4 cup warm water (110 degrees)
1/2 cup (3.5 oz.) granulated sugar
4 large eggs
2 T milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
4 1/4 cups (21.25 oz.) unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp salt
16 T (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces and softened but still cool

Sweet Cheese Filling
8 oz. cream cheese, softened but still cool
1/4 cup (1.75 oz.) granulated sugar
2 1/2 T unbleached all-purpose flour
Pinch salt
2 tsp finely grated zest from one lemon
1 large egg
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Streusel Topping
1/3 cup packed light or dark brown sugar
1 T granulated sugar
1/2 cup (2.5 oz.) unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
5 T cold unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces

Coffeecake Icing
3/4 cup confectioners' sugar, sifted
3 1/2 tsp milk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Egg Wash
1 large egg
1 tsp heavy cream (preferably) or whole milk

1. For the Dough:  Sprinkle the yeast over the warm water in the bowl of a standing mixer; stir to dissolve.  Add the sugar, eggs, milk, and vanilla; attach the paddle and mix at the lowest speed until well combined.  Add 3 1/4 cups of the flour and the salt, mixing at low speed until the flour is incorporated, about 1 minute.  Increase the speed to medium-low and add the butter pieces 1 at a time, beating until incorporated, about 20 seconds after each addition (total mixing time should be about 5 minutes.)  Replace the paddle with the dough hook and add the remaining 1 cup flour; knead at medium-low speed until soft and smooth, about 5 minutes longer.  Increase the speed to medium and knead until the dough tightens up slightly, about 2 minutes longer.

2.  Scrape the dough (which will be too soft to pick up with your hands) into a straight-sided lightly oiled plastic container or bowl using a plastic dough scraper.  Cover the container tightly with plastic wrap and let dough rise at warm room temperature until doubled in size, 3 to 4 hours.  Press down the dough, replace the plastic, and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled, at least 4 or up to 24 hours.  Alternatively, for a quick chill, spread the dough about 1 inch thick on a baking sheet, cover with plastic, and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled, about 2 hours.

3.  For the Filling:  Meanwhile, beat the cream cheese, sugar, flour, and salt in the bowl of a standing mixer at high speed until smooth, 2 to 4 minutes.  Add the lemon zest, egg, and vanilla.  Reduce speed to medium and continue beating, scraping down the sides of the bowl at least once until incorporated, about 1 minute.  Scrape the mixture into a small bowl and chill thoroughly before using.  (The filling can be refrigerated in an airtight container up to 3 days.)

4.  For the Streusel:  Mix the brown and granulated sugars, flour, cinnamon, and salt in a small bowl.  Add the butter and toss to coat.  Pinch the butter chunks and dry mixture between your fingertips until the mixture is crumbly.  Chill thoroughly before using.  (The streusel can be refrigerated in an airtight container up to 2 weeks.)

5.  For the Icing:  Whisk all the ingredients in a medium bowl until smooth.  (The icing can be refrigerated in an airtight container up to 1 week.  Thin with a few drops of milk before using.)

6.  When you are ready to shape the coffeecakes, remove the chilled dough from the refrigerator and turn it out onto a lightly floured work surface, scraping the container sides with a rubber spatula if necessary.  Divide the dough in half for 2 cakes.  Roll into a 12 by 8-inch rectangle (dough should be about 1/3 inch thick).  Straighten with a bench scraper to keep the sides even.  Place the dough rectangle on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet.  Spread a 3-inch wide strip of filling (use half the filling) down the center of the dough, leaving a 1 1/2 inch border at each short end.  Using a knife, cut a 1 1/2 inch square out of each corner of the dough, so it looks like an elongated + sign.  Using scissors, make 5 equally spaced snips , 1 1/2 inches deep, along each long side of the dough.  Fold the ends over the filling, pinching the corner edges together to seal.  Bring the flaps of dough from the long sides together in the center, overlapping the ends and pinching tightly to secure.  Repeat with the second half of dough.  Cover lightly with plastic and proof until slightly puffed, 1 1/2 to 2 hours. 

7.  For the Egg Wash:  Beat the egg and cream in a small bowl until combined. 

8.  Adjust the oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 350 degrees.  Working with and baking one coffeecake at a time, brush the egg wash evenly on the exposed dough.  Sprinkle evenly with half the streusel topping, if using.  Slide the baking sheet onto a second baking sheet to prevent the bottom crust from overbrowning and bake until deep golden brown and/or an instant-read thermometer inserted in the center of the cake reads 190 degrees, 25 to 30 minutes.  Slide the parchment with the coffeecake onto a wire rack and cool at least 20 minutes.  Drizzle the cake with half the icing and serve.

Recipe from Baking Illustrated
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