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Monday, February 11, 2013

Finding Time in 2013: King Cake

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For my first "kitchen" challenge of Finding Time in 2013, I decided to make a King Cake. Every February, I start seeing King Cakes pop up all over the internet as Fat Tuesday nears, and every year I think to myself that I should make one...and then I never do. Mind you, I've never had a King Cake and I don't even celebrate Mardi Gras (the beads in the picture are from the one year I went to the Mardi Gras parade in St. Louis....one year was all I needed to realize it wasn't really my "scene"). This year I finally set aside a Sunday afternoon for some King Cake making.
As it turned out, King Cake doesn't take any longer than making any other yeast bread, and the majority of the prep time is hands off while the dough rises. I halved the recipe, figuring we had no need for two King Cakes on hand. Little did I know, we would absolutely devour this. It was definitely freshest and best tasting the day I made it, but neither of us were complaining four days later when we were finishing the last few pieces of it. Yes, it took us only four days to eat the entire thing. And no, we didn't share it with anyone. I tried to, but Ryan wasn't having any of that!
This basically tastes like a cinnamon roll shaped like a bagel. The sour cream and bread flour used in the dough make it incredibly tender and light. The cinnamon sugar filling added an extra sweetness to the squishy insides and while you could easily do without the tri-colored glaze (traditionally it's a white glaze with purple, green, and yellow sprinkles, but I didn't have any!), but that's what makes it a King Cake, and not just a bagel-shaped cinnamon roll! Given the popularity this had in our house, I think we'll have to start celebrating Mardi Gras, if for no other reason than for this cake!

One Year Ago: Freezer Sausage and Egg Burritos
Two Years Ago: Frozen Mocha Marbled Loaf Cake
Three Years Ago: Hot Fudge Cake

King Cake
from Southern Living February 2006

-8 oz (1 cup) sour cream
-1/6 cup sugar
-1/8 cup butter
-1/2 tsp salt
-1 (1/4 oz) package active dry yeast
-1/4 cup warm water (100 to 110 degrees)
-1/2 tbsp sugar
-1 large egg, lightly beaten
-3 to 3 1/4 cups bread flour
-3 tbsp butter, softened
-1/4 cup sugar
-3/4 tsp ground cinnamon

for the glaze-
-1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
-1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
-1/8 tsp vanilla extract
-2 tbsp milk

1. Cook sour cream, 1/6 cup sugar, 1/8 cup butter, and salt in a small saucepan over low heat, stirring until butter melts. Set aside and allow to cool slightly.
2. Stir together yeast, warm water, and 1/2 tbsp sugar in a glass measuring cup. Let stand for 5 minutes. 
3. Beat sour cream mixture with yeast mixture, eggs, and 1 cup of flour until smooth. With mixer on low, add 2 to 2 1/2 cups of additional flour, until a soft dough forms.
4. With your hands or the dough hook on your mixer, knead dough until smooth and elastic (10 min by hand, less with mixer). Place in a greased bowl. Cover and allow to rise in a warm place for 1 hour, or until doubled in size.
5. On a lightly floured surface, roll out dough into a 22 x 12 inch rectangle. Spread softened butter evenly over the rectangle, leaving a one-inch border. Stir together 1/4 cup of sugar with 3/4 tsp cinnamon and sprinkle over the butter.
6. Roll up the rectangle (jelly-roll fashion), starting at 1 long side. Place the roll, seam side down, on a baking sheet lightly greased or lined with parchment. Bring the two ends of the roll together to form a ring, moistening and pinching edges together to seal.
7. Cover and allow to rise in a warm place for 20-30 minutes. Preheat oven to 375F. Once risen, bake for 14-16 minutes or until golden. Allow cake to cool.
8. Mix together glaze ingredients. If desired, divide into three bowls and dye with food coloring. Spread glaze on cake as desired and top if sprinkles if desired.