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Braided Pistachio Coffeecake & High Altitude Holiday Baking Cookbook

by Chef Megan Joy on November 5, 2012

This last month has been a hectic frenzy of baking for me. Lots of birthdays, special occasions, and my latest little project- a holiday baking cookbook featuring exclusively high altitude adjusted recipes. It will include all of the treats we love to eat and bake this time of year: red velvet cake, spicy peanut brittle, cinnamon rolls, cut-out sugar cookies, cheesecake, creme brulee, biscotti…the list goes on.

I’m hoping to have it completed by mid-November (just in time for Thanksgiving!). The best part about it is that it will be downloadable, meaning you will have instant access. I will be sure to keep all of you who are interested updated on it’s official launch. For the most up to date news, be sure to subscribe to my email list.

In the meantime, please enjoy this recipe for braided pistachio coffeecake. It comes directly from my holiday cookbook but it is too delicious not to share immediately.

My mom’s Great Aunt Mary created a treasured family recipe for a yeast-raised coffeecake, where the dough was rolled up with a walnut filling and then baked to a beautiful golden brown. This dough recipe from The Art and Soul of Baking by Cindy Mushet reminds me of it a lot. It falls right in between a lean dough and a really rich dough, like a brioche. There’s some milk, and butter, and eggs, but not the maximum amount there could be, so we’re left with a baked product that is not too heavy combined with the pistachio filling.

I wanted to create something festive, and a bit more of a splurge than the usual walnut, almond, or pecan. Pistachio paste mixed with a few ingredients, including a little cornstarch and flour (to keep it from bursting out while the coffeecake bakes) produced an incredible finished product. I can’t wait to make this for my family for Christmas morning.

In other high altitude news, we’ve had some beautiful weather in the high country lately. Mid 40’s and low 50’s with lots of sunshine. It’s been about a week and a half since we’ve gotten any snow. I’ve been hitting the trails with a gang of dogs and of course I can’t help but share a few photos. They just have too much fun being Colorado dogs and it shows on their furry faces.

Enjoy.

How to bake this high altitude adjusted recipe:

Braided Pistachio Coffeecake
Dough Recipe Adapted from The Art and Soul of Baking by Cindy Mushet

Braided Pistachio Coffeecake
Cuisine: High Altitude Baking
 
The filling recipe makes more than you'll need for one braid. Freeze the rest for another time.
Ingredients
  • Dough:
  • ½ cup warm whole milk (110-115F)
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon active dry yeast
  • 1 egg plus 1 egg yolk
  • 2½ cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 stick (4 oz) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 egg, for egg wash
  • Pistachio Filling:
  • 5 oz pistachio paste
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
Instructions
  1. For the dough: combine the warm milk and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer and sprinkle the yeast over the top. Whisk by hand to blend. Let sit for 5-10 minutes until the yeast is foamy.
  2. Add the egg and yolk and again whisk by hand until well blended.
  3. Add the flour and salt and using the dough hook attachment, turn on the mixer to low speed for 2 minutes.
  4. The dough will look ragged, and that's ok. Turn the mixer speed up to medium and knead for another minute.
  5. Add the soft butter, a tablespoon or two at a time, allowing each addition to blend in before adding the next.
  6. Once all of the butter has been added, decrease the speed to medium-low and continue to knead for 5-6 minutes until the dough looks soft and silky.
  7. Lightly butter or oil a bowl, scrape the dough into it and cover with plastic wrap. Let the dough rise until doubled, 40 minutes to an hour.
  8. Meanwhile, make the pistachio filling: In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the pistachio paste, sugar, salt, and vanilla with a paddle attachment until smooth.
  9. Beat in the soft butter, then add the egg. Mix until incorporated.
  10. Add the cornstarch and flour and mix until smooth.
  11. Scrape the filling into a bowl and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. This will make the filling easier to work with.
  12. To assemble the braid: when the dough has risen and doubled, punch it down and place the dough on a lightly floured surface.
  13. Roll the dough to a 8 x 13" rectangle, and carefully place the dough on a parchment lined baking sheet.
  14. Mark a 2" wide strip down the center of the rectangle; this is where the filling will go.
  15. On either side of the filling area, make diagonal cuts in the dough, 1" apart and about 3" long.
  16. Spread half the filling down the center strip of the dough. Braid the dough by crossing alternating strips of dough over the filling from the right and left, working from the top down.
  17. When you reach the bottom, press the dough to seal it, then tuck it under slightly.
  18. Beat the remaining egg, then using a pastry brush, brush a thin layer on the braid.
  19. Cover the braid lightly with plastic wrap and let rise until it has nearly doubled in size, about 20-35 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 365F.
  20. Brush another time with the egg, then put the braid in the oven. Bake for 25-30 minutes until the braid is golden brown.
  21. If desired, when the braid has cooled, whisk together 1 cup powdered sugar, 1½ tablespoons of water and 1 teaspoon of vanilla, and drizzle over the braid.

Note: This recipe has been created for high altitude baking. To bake at sea level, any changes will likely be minimal. The dough will rise much slower at sea level and keep an eye on the baking time.

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