Thursday, July 5, 2012

Peach Walnut Cinnamon Cake

     Yup, the responsibility for the (unintended) transformation of this recipe from cinnamon rolls into coffee cake lies squarely with me.  Ask my wife, she'll tell ya!  That being said, I think it turned out pretty damn good nonetheless.  At her current job, the various employees take turns bringing in breakfast on Monday mornings.  Since Jess is leaving soon for her new job, she wanted to take in breakfast one more time before leaving.  When Jess first started out at her current job, she made her take on this recipe from the Oh She Glows vegan cooking blog.  She thought that, given their popularity, she might want to try a bit of a different take on that recipe. 
     Wanting to go with a more typically 'summer' fruit than pumpkins, she decided to use one (21 oz, I believe) can of HyVee peach pie filling.  Further modifications are as follows.  To begin with, we didn't use any vegan ingredients.  While neither Jess or I are vegans, the reason for not making this recipe vegan had more to do with the cost of vean ingredients (and the fact that we didn't have them on hand) than anything else.  And, while I am not currently (and never will be) vegan, one of Angela's recipes at Oh She Glows made me eat my words that 'vegan food, by its very definition, is crap'.  Thus, if you are vegan, or are making this for someone who is, I have every reason that Angela's original version is just as tasty as ours.  Anyway, on to the recipe changes!
     While we kept to the recipe and used almond milk (it's what we had around), we replaced the vegan butter in the original recipe (in all of the portions, i.e. the dough, the streusel, the frosting, and the pan sauce) with regular butter, replaced the egg replacement with one large cage-free egg, and used reduced-fat cream cheese for the vegan cream cheese in the frosting.  We also decided to use chopped (and lightly toasted) walnuts rather than pecans (again, they were what we had on hand) and they work well with peaches. 
     I have to say, this is one of the best sweet-roll doughs I've ever tasted; it takes me back to when my Grandma M. used to make sweet rolls for our family when we'd visit them out in Kansas.  Though she's been gone for over a decade now, my first taste of these rolls instantly transported me back there to that time and place.  Yeah, they're that good.  Anyway, the first thing we had to do was to mix up the dough.  For what it's worth, it's amazing what fresh, active yeast will do for a yeast bread, and our hyper-active yeast (along with the 100+ temps we've been having) certainly helped this dough to raise in near-record time.

     First we rolled out the dough on the countertop and spread the can of peach pie filling evenly over the top, followed up by a layer of the cinnamon/sugar/walnut mixture. 

     After that, it was as simple as rolling it up like a jelly roll, and then cutting it neatly with dental floss into perfectly shaped rolls.  Well, it should have been that simple.  But then again, I was involved, and as Jess has always said, I'm a mean cook, but my knack for presentation has never been...well...all that great.  Therefore, I managed to royall eff up the cinnamon rolls.  It's ten-thirty PM.  The grocery store is at least a 45-minute round trip.  What to do? 
     In a moment of genius (or in desperation to save my marriage) I decide that we're now making a coffee cake (which I'd actually been wanting to do for some time) rather than cinnamon rolls.  Though it looks like trash before baking (see below) once baked, and especially once iced, it looked (and tasted) awesome. 

     In the end, we were really happy with the way that they came out.  Fresh out of the oven (and even reheated the next morning for work) they were awesome, but once they'd been refrigerated they seemed much denser and heavier.  The peach didn't come through quite as strongly as we thought it might, but they were still delicious.  Jess said that if she makes these with peaches again, she'll go a bit lighter on the cinnamon in the cinnamon/sugar mix to try to bring the fruit out a little bit more.  Also, cramming these into a 9x13 pan as a 'coffee cake' rather than cinnamon rolls worked really nicely, but if/when we do this again, we will definitely leave out the 'pan sauce/sticky bun sauce' from the recipe.  In cinnamon roll form it works well, but in cake form, where there's nowhere for the excess to run off, it has the potential to get sickeningly rich.  We used paper towells and dabbed a lot of this off prior to baking, and were definitely glad we did.  All in all, another baking success and a great way to say farewell to some great coworkers!

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