Tuesday, February 17, 2015

King Cake for Fat Tuesday

I've seen King Cake circulating around Mardi Gras time for several years now. I've never had it before and it looked very festive with all the colorful sprinkles on top. The tradition of hiding a little baby Jesus inside the cake always make me laugh. Whoever receives the slice with Baby Jesus inside has to bring the cake next year, but then I also heard how Baby Jesus is sometimes replaced by a little bean or candy bean because people would choke on him.
It being Fat Tuesday, I wanted to try King Cake. Like I do, I decide to make it even before I have tried the real thing from stores (but really, can the grocery store in Texas make as authentic a cake as something homemade?). I used the recipe for Quick King Cake from Betty Crocker and proceeded to make it last night while also eating dinner, playing with my dog, and prepping a huge pot of beans. It was quite a busy night.

So, in making this recipe, I found out what a King Cake really is. It is basically a sweet brioche (eggy, buttery bread) dough with a buttery cinnamon sugar filling, twisted or braided into a circle. Other filling are possible such as pecans instead of just cinnamon sugar. Then, the "cake" is topped with icing and sprinkled with the typical Mardi Gras colors: purple, green, and yellow. Once completely cooled, Baby Jesus is hidden inside the cake. Sadly, Baby Jesus is not with me and I could not hide him inside.

In making this dough, I thought it was interesting that the butter is added after combining the dry ingredients with the eggs, milk, and vanilla. The addition of the butter made the dough very easy to handle. I did everything by hand, all the mixing, kneading, shaping, so the ease of handling was a godsend. I did add some flour after the full 3-1/2 cups of flour were added because the dough was too sticky. I let it sit in the fridge for about 1-1/2 to 2 hours. When I came back, it had risen nicely.

I prepared the filling with only half the butter because I ran out but it was still enough, I think. I rolled the dough out to the specified size, spread the filling in (a little sparse), folded in half and then made a mistake. I wanted to incorporate the filling more and didn't think that cutting the strip into three would allow me to make a big ring. So I tried rolling it out to cut it into three strips lengthwise but that wasn't working. I ended up cutting it into three short strips, found that i couldn't braid that long enough, and ended up just trying to put the three strips back together to form a long ring. I twisted to the dough to give it that nice look. The ends didn't really seal but it kind of worked.
I let it rise for about 1-1/2 hours and then baked it for 25 minutes. The filling was spilling out because the way i twisted the dough created many openings. The filling became delicious sweet brown sugar caramel on the pan. Delicious mistake, but not one I want to make again.

After letting it cool overnight, I frosted it with cream cheese icing and dusted it with food glitter. Not the prettiest, but it sure is soooo tasty. It's like a giant cinnamon roll but better. The brioche dough is light, fluffy, buttery, a bit sweet. Biting into the filling or the caramelized sugar coating the bottom gives you that punch of more sweetness.
No wonder they eat this on Fat Tuesday. Yayyyy fat and sugar!

Overall, the recipe was not too difficult except for my misunderstanding of the shaping part.