11 February, 2013

Mardi Gras!!!

Okay, okay...so I am not from New Orleans.  I've only been there once in my life and it was after it was ripped apart by Katrina and it hadn't been put back together yet.  My Mister's family was stationed there for a couple years when he was a young toddler...but, I have no real connection to the place.  But I sure love FOOD and if there is ANYthing that is celebrated as much as life during this time, it is FOOD.  In fact, one of the alternative names aside from "Shrove Tuesday" for Mardi Gras is in fact FAT Tuesday.  With fabulous gumbos, jambalaya, remoulade sauces, crab & shrimp etouffee, beignets and king cake...you are sure to be having a great feast!  I am a dessert gal though...I LIVE for the dessert course of any event.  So, I am going to make some King Cake for our celebration.  

Traditional King Cake isn't really how people "roll" anymore though.  It started out as a simple ring shaped yeasty cake roll with a light glaze and purple, green and yellow sugar sprinkled on it.  Sure, you will get some New Orleans folk that find ANY kind of filling at all to be a total perversion of tradition but, these days people look for a little more "bang" in their cake.  Chocolate, fillings, praline style and all sorts of add ons have become normal for King Cake now.  I chose a recipe I saw at King Arthur Flour's website with filling, glaze, sugar sprinkles AND cherries on top and was able to easily turn it into a dairy free version.  Are you drooling yet?  Good!   

**When you see the ginormous list of ingredients DO NOT BE intimidated!!  It is literally just a sweet bread dough with filling rolled up in it.  Then you drizzle icing and decorate...it is no more complicated than making jam filled thumbprint cookies at Christmas.  Be brave!  It is worth the effort!

King Cake

1/2 c. butter, melted
3/4 c. lukewarm soy milk
2 large eggs + 1 large egg yolk, white reserved
3 1/2 c. flour 

 1/4 c. sugar
1/4 c. soy milk powder
1 1/4 tsp. salt
2 1/2 tsp. instant yeast
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/8 tsp. lemon oil or 1 tsp. grated lemon zest

8-oz. pkg. soy cream cheese
1/2 c. sugar
3 T. flour
1 large egg, lightly beaten
2 tsp. vanilla or 1/8 tsp. lemon oil


reserved egg white
1 T. water

2 c. powdered sugar
pinch of salt
1 tsp. vanilla

2 T. + 1-2 tsp. soy milk

yellow, purple, and green organic sugars
organic candied red cherries

Lightly grease a 10", 4-c. capacity bakeable stoneware ring mold, or a baking sheet.

To prepare the dough, using a stand mixer, electric hand mixer, or bread machine, mix and knead all of the dough ingredients together to form a smooth, very silky dough. You may try kneading this dough with your hands, if desired; but be advised it's very sticky and soft. Allow the dough to rise, covered, for 1 hour. It'll become puffy, though it probably won't double in size.

Transfer the soft dough to a lightly greased work surface. Pat and stretch it into a 24" x 6" rectangle. This won't be hard at all; it's very stretchy. Let the dough rest while you prepare the filling.

To prepare the filling, beat together the cream cheese, sugar, and flour till smooth, scraping the bowl once. Add the egg and flavor, again beating until smooth.

Dollop the filling down the center of the long strip of dough. Then fold each edge up and over the filling till they meet at the top; roll and pinch the edges together, to seal the filling inside as much as possible. Don't worry about making the seal look perfect; it'll eventually be hidden by the icing and sugar.


Place the log of dough into the prepared ring mold, seam down or to the side (just not on top), or onto the baking sheet. The dough will be very extensible, i.e., it'll stretch as you handle it. So pick it up and position it in the pan quickly and gently. Pinch the ends together. Cover and let rise for about an hour, until it's puffy. Preheat the oven to 350°F while the dough rises.  Whisk the reserved egg white with 1 tablespoon water, and brush it over the risen loaf. 

Bake the cake for 20 minutes, then tent it lightly with aluminum foil. Bake it for an additional 30 minutes, until it's a rich golden brown. Remove the cake from the oven, and after 5 minutes gently loosen its edges from the pan, if you've baked it in a ring mold. After an additional 10 minutes, turn it out of the pan onto a rack to cool (or transfer it from the baking sheet to a rack to cool).

To make the icing, beat together all of the icing ingredients, dribbling in the final 2 teaspoons milk till the icing is thick yet pourable.

Pour the icing over the completely cooled cake. While it's still sticky, sprinkle with alternating bands of yellow, purple, and green sugars. Space candied cherries in a ring around the top.  (
My "purple" sugar turned out blackish, so I didn't use it.)

This is the MOST moist king cake I've ever had in my life.  The whopping 4 eggs in this dough really give it a flaky texture as well.  All of that being said....as the filling in this beauty bakes it kind of morphs into a super soft, bread-like consistency.  So, my Mister and I agree that next time I make this beautiful ring, we'll just skip the filling, it really wasn't necessary and the cake will be just as wonderful without it.  The lemon oil in the dough really gave it a fabulous, but light flavor boost that I've never experienced with king cake before and I feel like I can confidently say that even after a huge Mardi Gras feast this would be a welcomed end to the meal.  Something people will save room for year after year!

*Don't worry about that gap you see there, only 3 pieces of the ring ended up like that.  All of the rest of the slices the gap closed.  Watch this recipe page for pictures of king cake withOUT the filling.  It will be braided but, the same dough, wash, icing and decorating ingredients.  Only the filling will be omitted!

To make the braid, follow dough directions with ingredients listed above.  Allow dough to rise 1 hour, then roll out and cut into three strips

Carefully and tightly roll each strip of dough up into a roll.

 Taking all 3 strips in hand, join them together, fold under and squeeze TIGHT.  Then start braiding, with the SEAM SIDE of the rolls DOWN.  Most folks know how to braid, if you don't, see picture below...

 After braiding, leave on a parchment lined cookie sheet to rise in a warm place (I heat my oven to 200F and right before putting in the dough to rise, I turn the oven OFFIf you do this DON'T FORGET TO TURN THE OVEN OFF!!) for another hour...

After rising remove from the oven, preheat oven to 350F and brush it with the egg wash mixture.  

When you've finished brushing it down and the oven is up to temperature, put it in to bake for the first 20 minutes, then tent it with the foil and bake another 30 minutes.  Then, continue on with the directions for cooling, icing and decorating your King Cake.

After baking...beautiful.  Almost too beautiful to ice & decorate!

Decorated and ready to eat!!

King Cake

This is just an awesome recipe whether you go ahead with the filling or not.  I liked them both, but the unfilled braid the best.  I am in love with this dough recipe!  It honestly tastes like a beautiful, gigantic donut!  You can see the gorgeous layering in there...  This is not your average King Cake, but it is the best King Cake you'll ever make in your life!

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