Monday, January 28, 2013

Mardi Gras King Cake


We are two weeks away from Mardi Gras or "Fat Tuesday" which is on Tuesday, February 12th this year.  Fat Tuesday celebrates the last day of Carnival season in New Orleans but the parades began back in mid-January.  King Cake is the traditional dessert served during the Carnival season, and usually has a plastic baby hidden somewhere in the cake.  The person who gets the slice of cake with the baby is declared "King of the Day" (assuming they don't choke on the baby) and is supposed to host the next party.  It seems like a constant party circuit and a great way to keep your social calendar full.

As many of you may know, I also vowed as part of my 2013 New Year's Foodie Resolutions to bake something this year.  So I thought I would try to bake a King Cake.  It actually turned out really, really well so I thought I would share the recipe with you (which is modified from Southern Living).  Please note:  Baby not included.

PS - Don't get any ideas in your head, I will not turn into a baker.  This cake took upwards of 4 hours to create.  I just do not have the patience for this sort of thing. 

Ingredients 
1 (16 oz) container of sour cream
1/3 cup of sugar
1/4 cup of butter
1 tsp salt
2 (1/4 oz) packages of active dry yeast
1/2 cup of warm water
2 eggs
6 cups of bread flour
1/3 cup of butter, softened
1/2 cup of sugar
1 1/2 tsp of ground cinnamon
1 1/2 cups of powdered sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons of melted butter
1/2 tablespoon of lemon juice
2 tablespoons of milk
1/4 teaspoon of vanilla extract
Purple, green and gold sprinkles
 
Preparation 
1.  Mix the sour cream, 1/3 cup of sugar, 1/4 cup of butter, and 1 teaspoon of salt in a medium sauce pan over low-medium heat, stirring often until butter melts.

 
2.  While the sour cream mix is warming, stir together the yeast, sugar and warm water in 1 cup sized cup.  Let stand for 5 minutes.  It will bubble and rise.  It may overflow so put the cup in a bowl to catch any overflow.



3.  Whisk your two eggs.


4.  Mix the sour cream until smooth and remove from heat once the butter is melted.

 
5.  Using a stand mixer, blend at medium speed the sour cream, eggs, yeast and 2 cups of bread flour.

 
6.  Once it is well blended, reduce the mixer speed to low and add one cup of flour at a time until the remaining 4 cups of flour have been added and dough begins to form.


 7. Turn out dough mess on a lightly floured surface (I use about 1/4 cup of the bread flour).  Knead until smooth and elastic - about 10 minutes.  (This is quite a work out... my hands were tired).


8.  Generously grease a bowl with butter and add the kneaded dough.  Flip dough over so it is greased on top.  Cover with towels and place in a warm area (like 85 degrees) and let rise for 1 hour until it is doubled in bulk. (I don't know about you, but my house is not 85 degrees in the dead of winter, so do the best you can with this one).


9.  While the dough is rising, take out the 1/3 cup of butter to soften at room temperature.  Mix 1/2 cup of sugar and 1 1/2 teaspoons of cinnamon in a bowl. 


10.  Take dough out of the bowl, "punch it down" (which means to use a fist and press in the center of the dough and then the sides to get the air out) and divide in half.  

 
11.  Take one dough ball and roll out into a rectangle that is 12 inches x 22 inches (or somewhere close to that).  Spread HALF of the softened 1/3 cup of butter over the dough.


12.  Sprinkle HALF of the sugar/cinnamon mix over top of the butter.

 
13.  Starting with the long end of the rectangle, begin to roll the dough toward the other side (like you are making a tube).  


14.  Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and form into an oval.  Cover with towels again and let sit for 30 - 45 minutes in a warm place so it rises.  Repeat steps 11-14 with the other dough ball.  (Surprise - you are making two cakes!!)

 
15.  Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Once the oval dough has risen, place in the oven for 16 minutes until golden.


16.  Remove from oven and let cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes.  While it is cooling, combine the powdered sugar, lemon juice, vanilla extract, 2 tbl of milk, and 1 1/2 tablespoons of melted butter in a bowl and mix until smooth (it's icing!).


17.  Once the cake is cooled a little, drizzle HALF the icing on the cake and drizzle the other half on the other cake.


18.  Get out the sprinkles and sprinkle alternating bands of purple, green and gold on the icing.  Let your cakes cool completely.


19.  Your cake is ready to serve *and* you have an extra cake to give to a friend to continue the party spirit!  You are so nice...

 

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