Honey-Almond Coffee Cake

From Lou Seibert Pappas.

Honey-Almond Coffee Cake

Yield: 1 14-inch cake, 10-12 servings

Cake:

1 package active dry yeast

¼ cup warm water (105˚ to 115˚F)

Pinch of granulated sugar, plus 1/3 cup

½ cup milk

8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter

½ teaspoon salt

2 ½ to 2 ¾ cups unbleached all-purpose or bread flour

3 large eggs

2 tablespoons grated lemon zest

1 teaspoon almond extract

Almond Topping:

1/3 cup firmly packed light brown sugar

2 tablespoons honey

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 tablespoons heavy cream

¾ cup (3 ounces) sliced almonds

In a small bowl, sprinkle the yeast over the water, sprinkle with the pinch of sugar, and stir to dissolve. Let stand until foamy, about 10 minutes.

In a small saucepan, heat the milk and butter over low heat until the butter melts. Combine the 1/3 cup sugar and the salt in a large bowl and pour the milk mixture over; let cool to warm, 105˚ to 115˚F. Stir in the yeast mixture. Using a wooden spoon or a heavy-duty electric mixer, add 1 cup of the flour and beat until smooth. Add the eggs and beat until blended. Beat in the lemon zest and almond extract. Gradually add enough of the remaining 1 ½ to 1 ¾ cups flour to make a soft dough. Turn the dough out onto a floured board and knead until smooth and elastic, 8 to 10 minutes.

Place the dough in a lightly buttered bowl, turn to coat, and cover with plastic wrap or a damp tea towel. Let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 ½ hours.

Punch down the dough. Turn out onto a floured board and knead lightly until smooth, 1 to 2 minutes. Roll into a 12-inch round. Butter a 14-inch pizza pan. Place the dough on the prepared pan. Cover with a tea towel and let rise until doubled in size, about 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Bake the bread for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the almond topping: In a small saucepan, combine the brown sugar, honey, butter, and cream. Place over medium heat and cook, stirring, until thickened, about 3 minutes. Stir in the almonds. Spread the topping carefully over the bread. Bake 10 to 15 minutes longer, or until nicely browned. Let cool for 5 minutes, then unmold right side up on a wire rack and let cool completely. Cut into wedges to serve.

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