The “real” name for this recipe, “real” meaning what I call it, is a Christ-Child Coffee Cake, because it looks like a swaddled baby. But, since some people might find the concept dreadful, or they’ll wonder what Jesus and cream cheese have in common, I chose to be conventional in naming today’s cooking project.
Don’t expect me to make a habit of this — being conventional, I mean. If we’re going to survive as free human beings, we must stop worrying about being conventional and fitting in. Ask yourself: when I fit in, what am I fitting into? Whose mold is it, and why do they want me stuck in it? Americans, especially, are far too worried about what other people think about them, and it gets us into all sorts of trouble: instead of living our lives and loving our families, we focus on buying a new car every three years, or a new phone every three months, because otherwise, others might think that we are poor, or backwards, or out of date.
That’s where thinking conventionally gets you.
To make this coffee cake, you’ll want to look up my recipe for Soft Breadsticks and either split it in half, or use half of the dough for the coffee cake, and the other half for bread sticks and rolls. Or make two coffee cakes. Or refrigerate the half you don’t use today, and use it tomorrow. Your options are endless, and the decision is yours.
Cream Cheese and Raspberry Coffeecake — Makes one large coffeecake to serve 4-6
1/2 recipe for Soft Breadsticks
1 3-ounce package cream cheese, or 1/2 cup ricotta cheese (I used fromage blanc, a soft cheese, made from our goat milk — that’s why the filling in my photos looks lumpy, not smooth)
1/3 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 cup raspberries (mine were frozen, sort of thawed)
1/4 cup chocolate chips
for the icing
1 cup powdered sugar
2 Tablespoons butter
enough liquid — milk, water, or raspberry juice — to make a smooth, creamy frosting (add the liquid slowly, 1 Tablespoon at a time or so, to ensure that you don’t add too much)
Mix the cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla together until smooth and spreadable. If you want it thinner, add a little milk (my mixture, the fromage blanc, was thinner than what cream cheese will be, but think it through: basically, this recipe involves spreading a cheese mixture on the dough, and dotting it with raspberries and chocolate chips — so you want the cheese mixture to be firm enough so that it doesn’t run all over the place, but not so stiff that you can’t spread it on the dough).
Roll out the dough to a 14 x 14 square. You don’t have to be insanely precise about this.
The filling will be spread in the middle third of the dough. On the two sides, right and left, you will cut from the edge to the middle, every one inch, making little “ribbons.” Look at the photo — you’ll see the one inch cuts on the right and left, and the bare part in the middle for the filling. The bottom cut I made thicker so that it can close up the coffee cake; ideally, I should have done this with the top as well. I didn’t but you can.
Spread the cream cheese mixture in the middle third, from top to bottom. Sprinkle over the raspberries and chocolate chips.
Starting from the top, or the bottom, fold the cut dough pieces, left side, then right side, then left side, and so on, over one another, and covering the filling. Do this until you reach the top, if you started from the bottom, or the bottom, if you started from the top, and pinch the dough at the tops and bottoms to keep the filling from leaking out. (If the filling leaks out, it’s not as if it were radioactive, and there truly is no harm done.)
Now comes the fun part, and you may want someone to help you on this: pick up the swaddled coffee cake and transfer it to a greased cookie tray. If you really don’t want to do this — then after you roll out the dough and before you cut the sides into ribbons, transfer it to the cookie sheet before you fill and shape. If you’re one of these people who does NOT read through a recipe before plunging in, then you may be a little irritated with me for not telling you this earlier — all I can say is this: get into the habit of reading the entire recipe through before you plunge in.
Cover the coffeecake, gently, with plastic wrap or a clean towel, and let rise at room temperature 30 minutes.
Bake at 385 degrees for 20 to 30 minutes, until both the tops and bottoms are lightly browned. I give a generous baking window because if you use Kamut, or another ancient grain flour for the bread recipe, as I did for this particular coffee cake, then you’ll find that the bread cooks much, much faster. If you use the stuff you buy on the grocery shelves, you’ll find that it doesn’t cook as fast.
To frost: cut the butter into the powdered sugar and add enough liquid to make a smooth, not too thick frosting. Let the coffee cake cool for 20 minutes, then spread on the frosting. Store leftovers in the refrigerator.
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