I've never been to Mardi Gras, although it is on my bucket list to be among that crowd one of these Fat Tuesdays. Even though I'm not sipping a Hurricane down on Bourbon Street today that's no reason not to celebrate this day of indulgence. And I know it's Fat Tuesday already, but I had to share this with you. Make it, even if it's not Mardi Gras or tuck it away for next year.
I came across a handful of recipes for King Cake last year and was determined to put it on my list for things I had to make in 2011. It doesn't help that the husband has been begging for something "pastry-like". This isn't pastry, but it's kind of a close cousin.
King Cake is part of the festival of the Epiphany which spans between Christmas and Lent. It's roots are in several different cultures, but it's the French variety that made its way down to our lovely New Orleans. The bread is similar to brioche and can be filled or not. The version I've made today is filled with a blueberry cream cheese frosting because really, any excuse to bring cream cheese frosting out and I'm on board.
King Cake with Blueberry Cream Cheese Filling
Adapted very slightly from: Cooking with Christian
3.5 cups all-purpose flour, divided
1/2 cup sugar
2 packages rapid-rise yeast
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 stick butter
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon orange extract
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 block cream cheese, softened
1 cup blueberries
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon milk
1/4 teaspoon orange extract or lemon juice
Sprinkles (purple, gold and green) to decorate
Take 1.5 cups (187.5 grams if you weigh like I do) of flour, your sugar, yeast and salt and dump in into the bowl of a standing mixer, fitted with your dough hook.
In a small sauce pan, warm your butter and milk (your butter will melt into this mixture). Don't let this get too hot (105-110 degrees is great if you have a thermometer handy(.
Now once your butter/milk mixture is warmed, pour it into the dry ingredients in your stand mixer bowl. Mix using the dough hook attachment on low speed. Once combined, add your eggs, one at a time until they're well mixed in (it will take a couple of passes of the dough hook to break your yolks).
Now add another cup of flour (125 grams) and continue mixing with the dough hook until smooth. Now add your remaining half cup of flour and mix with your dough hook until a sticky, fairly wet, dough forms (you won't get a uniform ball, but it will start pulling away from the sides.)
Next, lightly oil a glass bowl and spoon the dough into this bowl. Cover with a kitchen towel and place somewhere warm and draft-free (or on top of a preheated oven if it's cold in your house like mine). Allow to rise until it has doubled in size (about one hour).
While your dough is rising, make your filling. Combine your block of softened cream cheese, blueberries and a teaspoon of vanilla extract in a bowl or your standing mixer. Stir until combined. Slowly add 3/4 cup of powdered sugar until completely combined.
Now take your bowl of dough and punch it down (it will be sticky). You can do one of two things at this point, you can cover it and put it in the fridge for a couple of hours for a second rise or forge forward and fill it. It will just not be as puffy without that second rise.
Now preheat your oven to 375.
Pour your dough onto a clean, floured surface and knead until not as sticky (adding in a little flour here and there if you need it). Now, using your hands, make a long rectangle. Spread your cream cheese filling along the middle and gently fold the top half of the rectangle over the bottom half. Now seal the ends together making a long tube. Form that little tube into a circle and place on a cookie sleet with a silicone mat on top.
Baked for 25-30 minutes until golden brown. Take out of oven and carefully transfer to an baking rack to cool. Once cooled, make up the glaze by whisking together the powdered sugar, milk and orange extract. Brush over the top of the cooled cake and decorate with your purple, gold and green sprinkles.
At this point if you'd like, hide a small plastic trinket or a whole pecan in the cake. Whoever finds it will have good fortune and have to make the king cake for next Fat Tuesday! Enjoy!