It's Fat Tuesday, ya'll!
My dreams of king cake began approximately four years ago during a Superbowl party near Atlanta where my friend Ian contributed a traditional king cake in honor of the Saints' hopeful win. I haven't had a bite since that day, but it has been on the "to bake" challenge list for quite some time. Today, I am happy to announce that I did it (with a little help from my sous chef) - and it was a success! My version of the cake was slightly adapted from a recipe printed in the LA Times a few weeks ago.
The base of the king cake is a buttery Brioche dough that is rolled out, filled, and twisted before forming the dough into a ring. The dough goes through two resting cycles and will take time to rise (I let mine rise for 1.5 hours each time for a total of 3 hours). I recommend activating the yeast, measuring ingredients, and making the Brioche first. You can whip up the fillings while the dough in on its first rise. Feel free to get creative with fillings. I love the cream cheese, but simple cinnamon/sugar, toasted pecans, or other fruit fillings would be just as amazing. The recipe instructions call for use of a stand mixer with whisk and paddle attachments, but the sous chef doesn’t have one at his apartment, so I went ahead and manually kneaded the dough once it was too thick for the hand mixer.
Tradition suggests that a small plastic baby (symbolizing the baby Jesus) or other trinket is to be inserted into the cake prior to serving. The person who happens to get the piece of cake containing the baby is said to have good luck and is also invited to bring the next king cake. We searched high and low for the food safe plastic babies in Des Moines during an early March snow storm and finally found them at Hobby Lobby. We are far, far away from the Gulf Coast and apparently they don’t take kindly to cookin' babies in cakes up here. (I hid the babies in the cakes after baking so as to avoid any possible toxic plastic fume infusion into the cake.)
As I mentioned before, this cake was worth the elbow grease and the dough was far more forgiving than I expected. Enjoy!
This recipe is quite a doozy for my first post, but it happened at the right time - and they don't call it "Fat" for nothin'!