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King Cake
For the pastry:
1 envelope dry yeast
1/4 cup warm water
1/2 cup sugar, divided
4 cups flour, divided
1/2 cup milk
2 sticks butter
2 egg yolks
2 whole eggs

Mix the yeast with warm water. Stir 1 tsp of the sugar and 1 tsp of the flour into the yeast and set aside. By the time you have measured the other ingredients, the yeast should begin to bubble.

Bring the milk to a boil and stir in the butter and remaining sugar. Pour into a large bowl and let cool until lukewarm. Beat in the egg yolks, whole eggs and yeast. Incorporate 2 cups of flour, until the dough is smooth, then gradually add enough additional flour to make a soft dough that you can ball.

Knead the dough until smooth and elastic. Lightly oil a bowl, turn the dough in it a few times to grease it lightly all over, then cover with a cloth and leave to rise in a warm spot until it doubles its size, about 2 hours. Then pat the dough down and cover the bowl with a damp cloth. Put plastic wrap over that and refrigerate overnight.

To fill and bake:
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 tbs cinnamon
(cream cheese filling=  8oz cream cheese + 1/4 cup sugar, 1 tsp vanilla, 2 tbs flour, 2 egg yolks)
(optional: strawberry preserves, pecans, etc, etc)
egg wash (2 eggs + 1/4 cup water, beaten)
colored sugar (optional)
lucky bean or plastic baby (optional)
icing (powdered sugar + water to paste consistency)

Remove dough from refrigerator and with well-floured hands, while dough is still firm and cold, form into a long, sausage like shape. Using a floured roller on a floured surface, roll dough into a large rectangle (30x9) as thin as a piecrust. Let dough rest. Sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon. Spread fillings on top as desired, leaving a 3 inch "margin" on each side.  Roll up gently like a jelly roll. Then form into a ring and place on a greased cookie sheet. Gently brush dough with egg wash. Cover and let rest for 30 minutes. Brush again with egg wash. Insert "lucky bean" or plastic baby.

Bake at 375 for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until cake is well risen and golden. Cool before icing. Sprinkle with colored sugars.

Or, skip all that work and pick one up at Ralph's Supermarket. Call 622-4044 for custom fillings.