Monday, February 15, 2010

King Cake: Throw Me Something, Mister!


First of all, who doesn't LOVE that commercial? Huh? Anyone? Bueller?

::tap tap:: Is this thing on?

Last year, I wanted to make myself a King Cake for Mardi Gras but just never got around to it, and it didn't seem right to make one in the middle of Lent. Like I said in my previous post, a teacher used to bring them every year for us sometime between New Year's and Mardi Gras. She'd always include the small Baby Jesus for us, plus a penny for fortune. It was always fun taking that first, cautious bite and hoping your tooth would click against something foreign.

This year, I was determined to make myself a King Cake, and lemme tell ya, this is a lot harder than it looks! The rolling, twisting, and crimping required a lot of me, and I'm sure if I cranked out a few more I could "master" it, but this is the kind of undertaking a baking novice does but once a year.

Overall, the experience was good, and I know what I need to work on for next year. I have to thank Elizabeth for sharing the recipe last year. I'm looking forward to taking this to work for Fat Tuesday and hearing the reviews so I can perfect it for next year.

New Orleans King Cake
(From Elizabeth's Edible Experience)

1/2 c. butter, melted
2/3 c. evaporated milk
3/4 c. granulated sugar
1 T. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. salt
1/4 c. warm water
2 envelopes active dry yeast
1 tsp. granulated sugar
3 eggs
1/2 tsp. lemon zest
5 c. all-purpose flour (plus plenty more for dusting)
Vegetable spray
4 T. butter, melted
1 egg white
1 T. water


Cream Cheese Filling:

1 8 oz. package cream cheese, room temperature
1 c. powdered sugar
2 T. flour
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 T. milk

Icing:

3 c. powdered sugar
3 T. milk
Colored sugar (yellow, purple, and green)

In a medium bowl, mix melted butter, evaporated milk, 3/4 c. sugar, cinnamon, and salt. Stir to dissolve sugar and allow to cool.

Pour yeast into 1/4 c. warm water. Stir in sugar, and allow mixture to sit for 10 minutes, until it gets foamy and happy. If yeast does not foam (you'll notice a definite difference), your yeast is dead (::tear::), so you'll need to start over with new yeast, water, and sugar. I say this now so you don't continue with the recipe and foul it up, as I probably would.

Add the yeast mixture to the butter and milk mixture. Add eggs, one at a time, adding one only after previous has been blended in. Add in the lemon zest.

If you have strong, European arms, use a whisk. If you've got wimpy arms like me, use your dough hook on your KA mixer for this next step.

Start mixing in flour, one cup at a time, until you have a relatively thick paste in the mixing bowl (this is somewhere around 3 or 3.5 cups).

Keep adding flour in smallish increments (I did half cups) until all the flour is incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl to incorporate all the flour.

When all flour is incorporated, lightly flour a board with dough, dust your hands with flour, and turn out the dough onto the board. Knead a few times until dough is smooth and elastic. (You should be able to pull a part of it and it should slowly stretch back into place.)

Lightly coat a clean, glass bowl with vegetable/cooking spray. Turn the dough to coat all sides with spray. Cover with a dish towel and place in a warm place to rise. Allow dough to double in size, approx. 1 hour. (I turned on my oven and set the heat to 150. I covered the dough with a towel and set it in there about an hour. It didn't quite double, but it did rise, so I consider it a victory!)

When dough is just about ready, make your cream cheese filling. Combine all ingredients in a bowl and blend until light and fluffy.

Now, your dough is good to go. Punch it down and let out a little aggression (particularly if you had to start over with live yeast).

Divide dough in two pieces of roughly equal size. Dust your rolling pin with flour and roll out each piece to a 10 x 15 in. rectangle. It's best to do this one after the other, so you have sizes to match up.

Brush each rectangle with the melted butter. Spread the cream cheese filling on each rectangle, leaving a 1/2 in. boarder all the way around the dough.

Starting at the long end, roll up each half like a cinnamon roll or jelly roll. If a little filling sqeaks out, it's totally okay. Close the seam, using a few drops of water if necessary.

Braid the two rolls together. Lightly spray or butter a baking sheet. Place your braid of dough on the sheet and form the dough into a circle, sealing the ends together. Cover with a dish towel, and place back in a warm place to rise for 1 hour.

Heat the oven to 350 F. Whisk together the egg white and 1 T. water to create a wash. Brush the cake with egg wash and bake for 35 minutes, until lightly browned and makes a slightly hollow sound when tapped.

For the icing: Mix together the powdered sugar and milk. Stir well until it's reached drizzling consistency. Add milk, a little at a time, to help icing reach desired consistency. Let cake cool about 5 minutes, and start drizzling icing over the cake. Working on one chunk at a time, drizzle the icing and then add the colored sugar, sprinkling in a striped pattern on the icing. If you let the cake cool too much, or let the icing set, the colored sugar won't stay, so do it in chunks.

Ta da! You're done!

Notes:
  • Those with a keen eye will notice that I don't have purple sugar on my cake. I went to two different stores and couldn't find any. Hell, I was at the second store before I found yellow sugar, so I picked up a small tube of purple icing and decorated those sections in decorative patterns. I actually kind of like how it turned out, so hopefully it tastes good.
  • I added about 8 T. milk to the icing. The recipe I read called for whole milk, and in basic cooking, whole vs. 2% doesn't make a ton of difference. Here, it clearly did. I kept splashing in milk and stirring until I finally got the consistency I needed. My right arm was pissed at me when I was finally done. So....just be forewarned. If you regularly use 2%, like Frazzoo, and don't care enough to go out and buy even a small carton of whole milk, be prepared to use a decent amount of it for your icing.
  • Speaking of icing, this stuff is SWEET. And it's topped with sugar. Seriously. I will either be beloved or run out of school by the end of the day tomorrow. (And after the week I've had, the latter is probably more likely.) I even added a pinch of salt and it was still way to sweet. Normally I love icing but this was a touch too sweet for me. I hope I'm not hated for it.
  • My cake doesn't look nearly as pretty as Elizabeth's, but I'm still pretty proud of myself. It was a lot of work, but the end result looks pretty damn good.

3 comments:

  1. Geez, Girl! And I thought making homemade cinnamon rolls was tedious! Kuddos for makings this!

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  2. Thanks! It was time consuming, but mostly because you have to take 2 different hours to just wait for the dough to rise. I did laundry in between.

    I'm getting nervous! It's sitting the the teacher's lounge and no one's cut into it yet!

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  3. This was delicious. Thanks for making it Angie

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