A ring of sweetness


A sweet, pecan-studded caramel-orange ring and a fresh pot of coffee are the ingredients for an old-fashioned coffee klatch. For the rich, crumbly texture that this coffee ring requires, use a fork to lightly mix the liquid and dry ingredients; use the fingertips to lightly knead the dough just until it has a roughly uniform consistency. Overworking any quick- bread dough will activate the gluten in the flour, creating a tough texture.

As for the coffee, remember: The best brews begin with freshly roasted whole beans ground immediately before use.

Pull-Apart Coffee Ring

Makes 1 (8-inch) coffee ring

6 tablespoons butter, melted

2/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar

2 cups flour

2 tablespoons granulated sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1 tablespoon grated orange zest

1/4 cup cold butter

1 egg

1/2 cup milk

1/4 cup finely chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Pour all but 2 tablespoons of melted butter into bottom of 8-inch (5 1/2 -cup) ring mold. Sprinkle with 1/3 cup of the brown sugar; set aside.

In large bowl, mix flour, granulated sugar, salt, nutmeg, baking powder and half of the orange zest. Cut in cold butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.

In small bowl, beat egg with milk to blend. Add to flour mixture, stirring lightly just until mixture clings together. Turn out on a floured board; knead dough into a ball.

In small bowl, mix remaining 1/3 cup brown sugar, remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons orange zest and pecans.

Pinch off walnut-sized pieces of dough, shape each into a ball and dip into remaining melted butter. Arrange one layer of balls, spaced slightly apart, in prepared ring mold. Sprinkle evenly with pecan mixture. Place remaining balls of dough over first layer. Drizzle with any remaining butter.

Bake until golden-brown (25 to 30 minutes). Invert pan onto serving plate; let stand for about 30 seconds. Remove pan and serve coffee ring hot or warm.

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