Friday, March 23, 2012

King Cake

This month, I joined the Iron Chef Red Star Yeast Challenge hosted by a Latte' with Ott, A.  I have always loved to bake, but I have been afraid to do much with yeast.  So, I was happy to give this a try as a learning experience.

I made King Cake, which some countries make as part of Epiphany celebrations and is also made in celebration of Madi Gras.  A King Cake often has a toy baby (to symbolize baby Jesus) or other trinket hidden somewhere.  Whoever is the first to find the trinket gets special privileges.  To make your own King Cake here is the recipe and some tips that I would suggest.

1. Combine 4 tablespoons butter and 1/2 cup of milk in a small bowl.  Microwave the mixture until the butter is melted.  (You may want to stop the microwave after 1 minute to stir and then restart it if the butter still needs to melt more.)  Add 1 1/2 teaspoons of vanilla extract to the melted butter and milk mixture and let cool.

2. In another small bowl, add 1 packet of Red Star Yeast and 1/2 cup of warm water.  Let the yeast mixture rest for 5 minutes.

3.In a (very) large bowl combine 5 1/4 cups of sugar with 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons of sugar.  Use a whisk to combine.  Make a "well" or hole in the middle of the sugar and flour mixture and slowly add the yeast mixture into the hole.  Use a wooden spoon to fold the yeast mixture into the dry ingredients.  Add the butter/milk mixture folding again with the wooden spoon.  Lastly, you will add 3 large, beaten eggs and combine them as well.  Finally, you have your dough!

4. Transfer the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead the dough for 8 minutes.  (You may need to add more flour to the surface and your hands so that your dough does not become difficult to knead)  After 8 minutes, transfer to a large bowl that is well oiled.  You will cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place for 2 hours.  (Your dough will double in size over the 2 hours.)

See what I mean about needing a large bowl!

5. While your dough is rising, I would start on the filing for the bread.  To do this, mix 6 tablespoons of unsalted soft butter with 1 cup of dark packed brown sugar and 1 and 1/4 tablespoons of ground cinnamon.  Use a fork to blend.

6.  After your dough has risen for 2 hours, transfer it to a lightly floured surface and roll it to a rectangle that is 10 by 16 inches.  Spread the filing over the dough leaving a 1 inch strip uncovered at one of the long ends.  Beginning at the opposite end (opposite the 1 inch uncovered strip), roll jelly roll style.  Pinch the seams closed with your fingers.

7. Place the roll on a 13 by 16 inch baking sheet that has been lined with parchment paper.  Seal the ends of the ring together using water or flour.  With a knife, cut 1/2 inch slashes along the top of the ring.  Cover the roll and let it continue to rise for 45 minutes.

8. After your roll has had an additional 45 minutes to rise, bake in a 350 degree oven for 30 minutes.  (To keep your ring from closing during baking, place an oven safe bowl in the center of the ring).  After 30 minutes, remove ring from the oven and let it cool on a wire rack for 5 minutes.  After 5 minutes you can insert the toy baby or trinket.  Cool the cake for another 30 minutes.

9.  The last step is to make the icing by whisking 1 cup cofectioners' sugar and  2 tablespoons of milk.  Ice the cake while it is still warm and top the cake with colored sugars.  We used purple and green because my daughter helped color the sugar.  (The purpose of the color is to hide the baby toy and color choices vary depending on if the cake is made for Madi Gras or for an Epiphany celebration).

This has been breakfast some days this week-Yummy!

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