Monday, February 10, 2014

Mardi Gras King Cake

This may be the BEST king cake I've ever had, but I didn't want to put that in the post title since those are pretty strong words. Especially to anyone who has tried some of the excellent king cakes you can get in south Louisiana. But really, this cake was awesome! Part of what made it so delicious was that I filled it both cream cheese and pecan praline fillings. But even the dough was excellent and I'm sure would be delicious with a typical cinnamon sugar filling. I made this cake for the Super Bowl party that Joe and I went to and everyone seemed to enjoy it. I did have to explain to several people what exactly a king cake was and why there was a baby hidden inside though. I will definitely be making an other one or two to bring to my office on Mardi Gras.

I know I say this all the time, but this king cake was not difficult to make. The dough and icing recipes come from New Orleans chef John Besh. He has a show on PBS and he's always cooking up something tasty looking. I found the recipe from John Besh on a blog called Fleur Delicious which is probably the 2nd best blog name after Lombardo Lagniappe :) That is also where I found the recipe for the pecan praline filling. The cream cheese filling is simply some cream cheese, sugar, lemon zest and vanilla. Here's the full recipe:

King Cake with Cream Cheese and Pecan Praline Filling

For the cake:
1 cup whole milk, warmed to 110-120 degrees
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 envelopes active dry yeast
3 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, melted and cooled slightly
5 large egg yolks, beaten
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp grated lemon zest
2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg

For the pecan praline filling:
1 cup brown sugar
3/4 tsp cinnamon
3/4 to 1 cup pecan pieces, toasted and finely chopped (I didn't toast mine and it turned out fine)
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup (1 stick) melted butter

For the cream cheese filling:
10 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 t. lemon zest
1 tsp, lemon

For the icing:
2 cups powdered sugar
1/4 to 1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk
1 tsp fresh lemon juice

1. For the cake, mix together the warm milk, yeast, sugar and 1 tablespoon of the flour together in a large bowl. Let stand for about 8 minutes until the yeast begins to foam and gets frothy.

I just wanted to give a visual of what the yeast should look like. Below is how it looked after several minutes. 

2. Add the butter, eggs, vanilla, and lemon zest and whisk to combine.
3. Add the rest of the flour, cinnamon, and nutmeg and stir with a wooden spoon to combine. At this point, the dough will look really wet and not much like a bread dough.

4. Next, either use the dough hook on a stand mixer, or turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead until the dough becomes smooth and pliable. If using the stand mixer, the dough should pull away from the sides.

5. Let rise until doubled in size. 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

6. While the dough is rising, make the filling. For the pecan praline filling, stir together the flour, brown sugar, cinnamon and pecans. Then stir the melted butter in. Set that aside. For the cream cheese filling, mix all ingredients together with a mixer.
7. Once the dough is risen, preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Punch down the risen dough, and let it rest for a few minutes. Then roll it out on a floured surface into a long rectangle about 10"-12" wide but a couple feet long.
8. Spread the cream cheese filling on the dough, then "sprinkle" chunks of the praline filling over that.

9. Roll up tightly and form into a ring on a baking sheet. Try and pinch the two ends together.

10. Bake for about 30 minutes until the cake is golden brown.

11. Let cool on a wire rack until completely cooled. Before icing the cake, hide the baby inside!
12. Then mix together all your icing ingredients and pour over the cake. While the icing is still wet, sprinkle on the colored sugar.


I know that's a lot of ingredients and steps, but I promise it's worth it! I'm not sure I can wait till Mardi Gras to make another one. If I were down in Louisiana I could get my king cake fix by just picking one up at the grocery store. Though they do sell king cakes at a few grocery stores in Kansas City, I can tell you they are not very good. I think they bake one batch a year and sell them for a few weeks. They're just dry and gross. Let me know if you decide to try making your own king cake this year, and if you come up with any good filling flavors!

I think that's it for tonight. Thanks for reading and if I don't get back on here before Friday, have a happy Valentine's day with the ones you love!

1 comment:

  1. I want to stuff this is my face right now! I'm thinking about having some people over and making Mardis Gras dinner...I may have to make this cake!