Monday, February 15, 2016

One Ingredient Challenge: King Cake

Part of an ongoing series of cooking from scratch. That is, we cook something from basic items that don't have multiple ingredients (e.g. store-bought spaghetti sauce includes all sorts of spices and maybe other stuff too; we'd start with tomatoes and individual spices and add them together to make our own sauce). See other challenges here.

For Fat Tuesday/Mardi Gras/Shrove Tuesday/Pancake Day we tried our hand at making a King cake. King cakes are most popular in New Orleans and celebrate the arrival of the three kings to worship the baby Jesus. So the earliest cakes are available around Epiphany (the twelfth day of Christmas/December 6) and the festivities last all the way up to Ash Wednesday.

This recipe is from Southern Living. We also carefully watched their video several times to make sure it would come out right.

We also sought inspiration from others!

In a saucepan over low heat stir together the following ingredients until the butter melts:
  • 1 (16-ounce) container sour cream
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1 teaspoon salt
Set the mixture aside to cool to no more than 110 Fahrenheit.

Adding sour cream

Mix together the following ingredients until smooth:
  • 2 (1/4-ounce) envelopes active dry yeast
  • 1/2 cup warm water (100 to 110 Fahrenheit)
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 cups bread flour

Gradually add 4 to 4 1/2 cups more bread flour (or all purpose flour) until a soft dough forms.

Our mixers experienced a breakdown so we switched to the bread machine for mixing and kneading at this point. Knead for about 10 minutes until smooth and elastic.

Handy robot slave

Stretching it out

Let rise about 1 hour.

Punch down dough, and divide in half. Roll each portion into a 22 by 12 inch rectangle.

Spread 1/3 cup softened butter evenly on each rectangle, leaving an inch border.

Big, buttery rectangle

Stir together 1/2 cup sugar and 1 1/2 teaspoons of cinnamon. Sprinkle evenly over butter on each rectangle.

Adding cinnamon

Roll up each dough rectangle, jelly-roll fashion, starting from one long side. Insert plastic baby (read on to find out why). Place one dough roll seam side down on a lightly greased baking sheet. Bring ends of roll together to form an oval ring, moistening and pinching edges together to seal. Repeat with second dough roll.


The baby!

Cover and let rise in a warm place (85 Fahrenheit), free from drafts, 20 to 30 minutes or until doubled in size.

Any covering will do

Bake at 375 Fahrenheit for 14 to 16 minutes or until golden. Slightly cool cakes on pans on wire racks (about 10 minutes).

Baked cake

Baby sticking his foot out

To make the glaze, mix these four ingredients together:
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 3 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Mixers are back on line!

Add two tablespoons of milk. Mix, adding more milk one teaspoon at a time until the desired consistency is achieved.

Milk mid-drop

Drizzle the glaze evenly over warm cakes; sprinkle with colored sugars, alternating colors and forming bands. Let cool completely.

Icing the cake

Adding gold/yellow sugar

Making the last touches

Finished product

Traditionally, throw a party and whoever gets the slice with the baby in it has to make the next cake, or throw the next party.

Slicing the cake

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