Monday, February 15, 2010

Traditional New Orleans King Cake

My friend, coworker and fellow cake decorater and baker, Beth, mentioned that she would like to try to make a King Cake for a Mardi Gras themed supper club she would be attending. I thought this sounded like a fabulous seasonally appropriate and fun first bakesperiment to blog. So, I asked her for the recipe. She kindly obliged.

This particular recipe includes two hours of rising time which is less than some of the King Cake recipes out there. A few of them ask you to allow up to 5-6 hours for the cake to rise.

I used my stand mixer with a dough hook to knead the dough and rolled it out onto my floured wooden cutting board. The dough is a bit sticky, just as the recipe says, but I had problems with it. As long as you grease the bowl you use for the dough to rise in and flour the surface you roll the dough out onto you shouldn't have any issues either.

One other trick I used that is not in the recipe was to preheat my oven to 175 degrees and then turn it off. I put the dough in a covered oven proof bowl to let it rise the first time, and on a cookie sheet covered with a clean towel the second time. It rose nicely, so I think the extra heat helped, or at least it didn't hurt any!

Traditionally, King Cakes are decorated with yellow, green, and purple colored sugar. I did not have green sugar, but I did have pink so I went for it. I think the pink makes my King Cake look more like a giant calzone-shaped marshmallow peep! Ah, well.

Overall, I think this recipe turns out well. I found it a little dry, but I have heard from others who have more King Cake tasting experience than I do that slightly dry is just the nature of this pastry.

If you try this be sure to comment and give me your review and any tips or tricks you pick up along the way!

Traditional New Orleans King Cake:
2 pkg. (1/4 oz each) active dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water (110 to 115 degrees)
3/4 cup sugar, divided
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 warm 2% milk
2 egg yolks
1 1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp grated lemon peel
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
3 1/4 to 3 3/4 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 egg beaten
1 1/2 cups confectioners sugar
2 tsp lemon juice
2 to 3 tbsp water
green purple and yellow sugars
In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Add 1/2 cup sugar, butter, milk, egg yolks, salt, lemon peel, nutmeg and 2 cups flour. Beat until smooth. Stir in enough remaining flour to form a soft dough (dough will be sticky).
Turn onto a floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 6-8 minutes. Place in a greased bowl, turning once to turn the top. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour.
Punch dough down. Turn onto a lightly floured surface. Roll into a 16-inch x 10-inch rectangle. Combine cinnamon and remaining sugar; sprinkle over dough to within 1/2 inch of edges. Roll up jelly-roll style, starting with a long side; pinch seam to seal. Place seam side down on a greased baking sheet; pinch ends together to form a ring. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 1 hour. Brush with egg.
Bake at 375 for 25-30 minutes, or until golden brown. Cool completely on a wire rack. For glaze, combine with confectioners sugar, lemon juice and enough water to achieve desired consistency. Spread over cake. Sprinkle with colored sugars.

Happy Mardi Gras!

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