SIMPLE SWEET DOUGH
Makes 2 pounds of dough, enough for 1 large or 2 medium coffee cakes or 2 - 3 dozen individual coffee cakes
Plan Ahead: Refrigerate overnight
4 tablespoons sugar
¼ cup warm water (110°F-115° F)
1 package active dry yeast
3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, spooned in and leveled, (plus ¼ cup for Hand Method)
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into ½ inch cubes, plus 1 teaspoon soft butter for brushing top of dough
½ cup milk
3 large egg yolks
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Rinse a small bowl in hot water to warm it. Add 1 tablespoon of the sugar and the warm water to the bowl. Sprinkle the yeast over the water. DO NOT STIR. Cover the bowl with a saucer and let the mixture stand for 5 minutes. Stir it briefly with a fork, cover again, and let it stand for 2 to 3 minutes or until bubbly.
MAKE THE DOUGH
STAND MIXER METHOD:
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix together on low speed, the 3 cups of flour, remaining 3 tablespoons of sugar, and the salt. Add the slightly firm cubed butter and continue to mix until meal-size crumbs form, about 2 to 4 minutes, depending upon the temperature of the butter. Stop the mixer.
Using the fork, in a separate bowl, mix the milk, egg yolks, and vanilla extract. Add the milk mixture to the flour, along with the dissolved yeast, and mix on low speed for about 15 seconds. Stop the mixer and scrape down the side of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Mix on low speed for another 30 seconds, or until a smooth dough is formed. Note: This is a soft dough.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the 3 cups of flour, remaining 3 tablespoons of sugar, and the salt. Add the soft cubed butter, and using a pastry blender or your fingertips, work in the butter until the mixture resembles fine meal.
Make a well in the center. Using a fork, blend together in a small bowl the milk, egg yolks, and vanilla. Pour the liquid into the well and add the dissolved yeast. With a wooden spoon, gradually work the crumbs into the liquids, mixing until all the crumbs are incorporated and a rough dough is formed. Sprinkle the work surface with about 2 tablespoons of the remaining flour. Turn the dough onto the floured surface and knead lightly, adding the remaining two tablespoons of flour, kneading until smooth. Note: This is a soft dough.
Lightly butter a medium bowl for storing the dough. Empty the dough into the prepared bowl, smoothing the top with lightly floured hands. Spread a thin layer of softened butter over the top. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
STORAGE: This dough may be kept in the refrigerator, tightly covered with plastic wrap, for up to 3 days.
Copyright @ 2007 by Carole Walter, CCP