Make your own King cake for Mardi GrasPublished 12:05am Wednesday, January 22, 2014
It’s Mardi Gras season in the Miss-Lou and that means one thing at my house — king cake! King cake is traditionally a yeast bread with a fruit, cream cheese or often cinnamon, sugar filling. Usually a little trinket is inserted into the baked cake, it can be a little Mardi Gras baby, a kidney bean or even a coin. The person who receives this piece of cake is responsible for the next king cake and will have good luck.
The filling here is a cream cheese one that can be altered easily, you can add canned pie filling if you want a fruit filling or you can also sprinkle in chocolate.
8 ounces sour cream
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup margarine
1 teaspoon salt
2 packages yeast (see note below)
1/2 cup warm water, 105 to 115 degrees
2 eggs, beaten with a fork
4 cups all purpose flour
16 ounces of cream cheese, room temperature
3/4 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Combine the filling ingredients and beat well. Place in the refrigerator to chill.
In a small saucepan on low heat mix together the sour cream, sugar, margarine and salt, stir occasionally and until all of this is melted and mixed. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature. Measure your 1/2 cup of warm water into small bowl and stir in the yeast. Let this set for five minutes. During this time you should some slight movement or bubbles in the cup. In a large mixing bowl, add the sour cream mixture, the flour and the eggs and then the yeast. This must be mixed well. I use a large spatula to do this, however you can use the dough hook on a stand mixer and mix just until the dough comes together. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, set in a warm, draft free spot for one hour so it can double in size.
After an hour, remove the plastic wrap and punch the dough down and scrape out on to a lightly floured surface. Lightly sprinkle with flour, and with your hands, knead the dough for just about two minutes. Cut the dough in half and set one half aside covered with a damp paper towel. Take the other half of the dough and roll it thinly (not where you can see through it) into a rectangle. Remove your filling from the refrigerator divide it into fourths. With the long side of the rectangle in front of you, about one inch from the edge, place one fourth of the filling down the long side. Don’t spread it out thinly; make a long mound of the filling down the side. Fold the edge of the dough over the filling and roll twice.
Repeat with another fourth of the filling and then roll the rest of the way. Take a baking sheet, line it with parchment paper and carefully pick up the long roll and move it to the baking sheet forming it into a circle. With your fingers pull the dough on the ends together, cover with plastic wrap and let it rise for another hour. Repeat this process with the other half of the dough and the remaining filling.
After an hour, preheat your oven to 350 degrees, remove the plastic wrap and place in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes or until light brown.
Let cool before glazing.
2 cups sifted powdered sugar
1/4 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1 teaspoon vanilla
Purple, green and gold sugar
Mix all of the glaze ingredients together except the colored sugars. When the king cakes are completely cool, (this is where you add the trinket) glaze the tops with spoonfuls of the glaze, letting it run over the sides by itself. Then sprinkle the colored sugars in sections of purple, green and gold. I usually have two sections of each color.
NOTE: I keep my bulk yeast in the freezer. I let it come to room temperature so it doesn’t affect the temperature of the liquid I am proofing it in. Yeast is a live organism and nothing will ruin your hard work faster than dead yeast so check your expiration date when you purchase yeast. Mixing yeast with a warm liquid (105 to 115 degrees) is called proofing and it is when you can see the yeast is alive, because it bubbles a little. And yes, the temperature range is important, too cold and it won’t proof, too hot and you killed your yeast, so until you can tell the temperature of the water with your hand use a thermometer.
Christina Hall writes a food column for The Democrat. She can be reached at email@example.com.