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How to Make Almond Ring Coffee Cake

Why this recipe works Why buy inferior boxed versions when you can make a better coffee cake ring at home—one with buttery layers of dough, a sweet almond filling, and a smooth glaze? Most yeasted coffee cakes rely on an enriched dough made with milk, butter, and eggs. Because we were filling this cake with a sweet, rich almond filling, we wanted to encase it in something a bit lighter. To that end, we cut the butter used in most recipes in half. We figured we’d sweeten our dough with granulated sugar or brown sugar, as most recipes we researched do. But once we tested other options, we found that honey gave the cake a slight caramel flavor and also added welcome moisture to the dough. For the filling, most recipes bolster cream cheese with ground almonds and sugar, but this made a soft mixture that leaked out of the dough. Worse, the almond flavor was barely perceptible. We had better luck with almond paste. When we mixed the almond paste with a little cream cheese, it formed a luxurious filling that was thick enough to stay put in the dough. Perhaps even more important, it had a rich, nutty flavor that wasn’t obscured by the dough. If the dough becomes too soft to work with at any point, refrigerate it until it’s firm enough to easily handle.

  • makes 2 cakes
  • rising time 2½ to 3½ hours
  • baking time 25 minutes
  • total time 5 to 6 hours
  • key equipment stand mixer, 2 rimmed baking sheets, rolling pin, pastry brush

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filling

  • 1 tube (7 ounces) almond paste, cut into 4 pieces
  • 4 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • ½ cup (2 ounces) confectioners’ sugar

dough

  • 4¾ cups (23¾ ounces) all-purpose flour
  • 2¼ teaspoons instant or rapid-rise yeast
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1⅓ cups (10⅔ ounces) whole milk, room temperature
  • 8 tablespoons (4 ounces) unsalted butter, melted
  • ⅓ cup (4 ounces) honey
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

topping

  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten with 2 tablespoons water and pinch salt
  • ½ cup sliced almonds
  • 1½ cups (6 ounces) confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 2 tablespoons whole milk
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract

1). For the filling Using stand mixer fitted with paddle, beat almond paste, cream cheese, and sugar on medium speed until smooth, about 1 minute. Transfer to bowl, cover, and refrigerate until ready to use.

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2). For the dough Whisk flour, yeast, and salt together in clean, dry mixer bowl. Whisk milk, melted butter, honey, egg yolks, and vanilla in 4-cup liquid measuring cup until honey has dissolved. Using dough hook on low speed, slowly add milk mixture to flour mixture and mix until cohesive dough starts to form and no dry flour remains, about 2 minutes, scraping down bowl as needed. Increase speed to medium-low and knead until dough is smooth and elastic and clears sides of bowl but sticks to bottom, about 8 minutes.

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3). Transfer dough to lightly floured counter and knead by hand to form smooth, round ball, about 30 seconds. Place dough seam side down in lightly greased large bowl or container, cover tightly with plastic wrap, and let rise until doubled in size, 1½ to 2 hours.

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4). Line 2 rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper. Transfer dough to lightly floured counter, divide in half, and cover loosely with greased plastic. Press and roll 1 piece of dough into 18 by 9-inch rectangle (keep remaining piece covered), with long side parallel to counter edge.

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5). Spread half of filling into 1-inch-wide strip above bottom edge of dough, leaving 1-inch border at bottom. Roll dough away from you into firm cylinder, keeping roll taut by tucking it under itself as you go. Pinch seam closed.

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6). Transfer cylinder seam side down to prepared sheet. Bring ends snug together to form ring and pinch seam closed. Repeat with remaining dough and filling.

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7). Using kitchen shears or sharp knife, make 10 cuts around outside of dough, nearly but not all the way through loaf, spaced 1½ inches apart. Twist each section cut side up. Cover loosely with greased plastic and let rise until rings are nearly doubled in size and dough springs back minimally when poked gently with your knuckle, 1 to 1½ hours. (Unrisen dough rings can be refrigerated for at least 8 hours or up to 12 hours; let sit at room temperature for 1 hour before baking. Alternatively, fully risen rings can be wrapped tightly with greased plastic, followed by aluminum foil, and frozen for up to 1 month; let frozen rings thaw in refrigerator for 12 hours, then let sit at room temperature for 1 hour before baking.)

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8). For the topping Adjust oven racks to upper-middle and lower-middle positions and heat oven to 375 degrees. Gently brush dough rings with egg mixture and sprinkle with almonds. Bake until cakes are deep golden brown, about 25 minutes, switching and rotating sheets halfway through baking. Let cakes cool on sheet for 1 hour. Meanwhile, whisk sugar, cream cheese, milk, and vanilla together in bowl until smooth. Drizzle glaze over cakes and serve warm or at room temperature.

variation apricot-orange ring coffee cake

Omit almond filling. Bring 2 cups dried apricots, 1 cup water, and 3 tablespoons sugar to simmer in medium saucepan over medium heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until apricots are soft and water has nearly evaporated, 16 to 18 minutes. Process apricots, 3 tablespoons grated orange zest, 3 tablespoons orange juice, and 2 tablespoons rum (optional) in food processor until smooth, about 1 minute, scraping down bowl as needed. Transfer mixture to bowl and let cool to room temperature. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to use.

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