I feel I’m failing my dear Doristas by not posting today’s French Friday’s recipe, quatre-quarts. I still have in my freezer bubble top brioche rolls, a piece of Mama’s cinnamon cake, biscuits made from the Baking book recipe, three boxes of Girl Scout cookies and up until very recently, a whole king cake. It’s just too much starchy, floury goodness already at my fingertips to even consider baking another cake for a two-person household.
One of the items in my to-bake-again list for 2012 was king cake. The king cake tradition can be traced back to the Middle Ages, when a ring-shaped cake was part of the Epiphany celebrations. The rosca de reyes and the galette de roes are the predecessors of the custom in the Southern US, where king cakes are consumed from the Twelfth Night all the way until Mardi Gras. The cake is decorated in sugars tinted with the traditional Carnival colors: gold (representing power), green (faith), and purple (justice). A miniature baby doll or pecan half is hidden in the cake, and the person who gets the lucky piece that has it has to host the next Mardi Gras party or bring the next cake to the activity. I bought my share of king cakes at the supermarket during my college years – regardless of I found the baby or not.
For our Epiphany celebration, I baked my second king cake. The first one I made was using John Besh’s brioche-based recipe. It was delicious, but I wanted to try something easier and maybe not as rich. Southern Living’s recipe caught my eye because unlike Besh’s version, the cinnamon filling is rolled like most of the king cakes I enjoyed during my New Orleans years. For the Epiphany party, I made SL’s suggested creamy glaze as written. My Mardi Gras cake’s glaze was a little thinner and flavored with orange zest. Orange and cinnamon are one of my favorite combinations.
Traditional King Cake
Adapted from Southern Living
Yield: 1 cake
The King Cake
- 8 ounces sour cream
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
Over medium low heat, cook these ingredients together until the butter melts and everything is incorporated. Remove from the heat and allow to cool until lukewarm (approximately 110˚F)
- 1 envelope active dry yeast
- 1/2 cup warm water
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 2 1/2 to 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
Stir together the yeast, sugar, and water. Cover with a kitchen towel and let stand for at least five minutes, until the mixture begins to bubble.
In a stand mixture (paddle attachment), beat together the warm sour cream mixture, the developing yeast, egg, and one cup of flour until smooth. Switch to the dough hook, reduce the speed to low, and slowly add the remaining flour until a soft dough forms. Turn the speed back to medium for five minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic. If you’d rather knead the dough by hand, do so on a lightly floured surface for about ten minutes or until smooth and elastic. Place the dough in a greased bowl, cover it with a towel, and let rise in a warm/draft free place until it doubles in size.
- 3 tablespoons butter, softened
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
Deflate the dough and roll it into a large rectangle, about 22″ by 12″. Spread the butter evenly on top, leaving a 1 inch border. Mix in a small bowl the cinnamon and sugar, and sprinkle it evenly over the butter. Roll the cake from the long side, pinching together the edges. Transfer the cake to a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicon mat. Allow it to rise for an extra half-hour, until doubled in bulk.
Bake the cake at 375˚F for 13-15 minutes or until golden. Cool it slightly on top of a wire rack until ready to glaze.
- Zest of 1/2 orange
- 2 tablespoons of butter
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon vanilla
Melt together in the microwave oven the butter with the orange zest in a large measuring cup, for about twenty five seconds. Stir in the powdered sugar and vanilla and combine well. Slowly add milk, 1 tablespoon at a time, until it reaches the desired texture. Pour the glaze over the still warm cake.
The Lagniappe – Colored Sugars!
- 1/4 cup regular granulated sugar or 3 tablespoons extra-fine/caster sugar
- Food coloring