Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Fat Tuesday

One minute to launch. 

Weirdly, this was my groggy conscious getting serious after I'd invoked the snooze button for the third time this morning. This moment of motivation undoubtedly stemmed from a formative membership in the fifth grade Young Astronauts Club (you're damn right that's a real thing) and several field trips to NASA's Johnson Space Center. Undoubtedly.

But I digress. The truth is that (1) I still didn't get out of bed one minute later, and (2) I don't tend to launch myself anywhere. Unless by launch you mean move at a moderate speed in a reasonably direct path towards cake. In which case, perhaps my grumpy half-awake self knew that I'd want to get out of bed for this one.

Today is what folks along the Gulf Coast would call Fat Tuesday. That's the day when all of the Mardi Gras festivities culminate to explode in a cacophony of parade floats, body paint, plastic beads, and glitter. Or something like that. I've never been to New Orleans, and I've never truly celebrated Mardi Gras, but I did watch the Saints play in the Superbowl once.

Fact: I stood in a friend's living room in 2010 and drank champagne with cranberry and Grand Marnier.
Fact: I don't recollect what appetizer I brought to share (this has nothing to do with the champagne).
Fact: I vividly remember a soft, sweet, braided king cake that tasted like heaven in a cinnamon roll.
Fact: I have a genuine weakness for cream cheese filling.

Ian told me that the king cake had been special ordered from a bakery in New Orleans and he paid extra to have it delivered in time to celebrate the Saints' hopeful Superbowl win. In the year that followed, I begged; conjured up reasons; coerced; waited patiently for Ian to order another.

Instead, he sent me a web link for a bakery that *might* have been the place he ordered from.

We are done here, Ian. Finished. 

This is Ian and his wife, Tiffany.
Ian cannot be trusted.

It has been over four years since I tasted the confection of my dreams. FOUR YEARS. But the drought ends now, my friends. With the help of my trusty sous chef to my right (and sometimes left - that guy moves quickly), I rolled up my sleeves and dove into this recipe adapted from the LA Times.

I doubled the recipe with plans to eat a whole one taste test one and take the other to work. I whipped the eggs with the sugar and then proceeded to mix in 10 tablespoons of butter (one. tablespoon. at. a. time.) before I realized that I was supposed to add the yeast before the butter (you know how baking can be finicky like that). I took a breath and blended it all together with the hand mixer.....

My dreamy king cake quickly became a cold, sloppy swamp of yellow fat clumping in foamy, brown milk, utterly unlike any other recipe I had ever made. It was not good. The sous chef and I deliberated for a solid 3 minutes about whether to scratch the batch and save the bread flour or to forge ahead. Ultimately, we decided that there was nothing to lose, and I started trickling in the flour.

Low and behold, the dough came together and ended up alright alright alright*.

The cake was divine. Sometimes things just work out for the best**.

To pay homage to my blog title, I thought it fitting to make the first post almost entirely about cake. If you are feeling motivated to try it out for yourself, find my slightly adapted recipe with cook's notes here.

*(did you read that in Matthew McConnaughey's voice??)
** And it's a good thing it did because, between preparation and waiting 3 hours for two separate rises of the dough, this cake took FIVE HOURS TO MAKE. It would have been a crying shame had the dough not actually pulled through for us.


  1. You brought some penguin shaped appetizer to the Superbowl. And yes, I read that in Matthew McConnaughey's voice...too funny when I read the *note at the bottom!

  2. Oooh! The penguins. I haven't made those in a while. I hope you don't mind that I shared your picture on the interwebs. Missss ya'll!!


“We write to taste life twice, in the moment and in retrospect.”
― Anaïs Nin