03/07/2014 by syrbal-labrys
Every Friday, I think to myself, “This is a waste of time. Almost nobody cares about food, cooking, etc. There isn’t really much discussion and I am likely boring the crap out of everybody who does pop in here.”
And every Friday, I prepare to write “Hey, let’s all forget about this, ok?”
But then, something pisses me off, or someone asks for something. And I continue to continue. So, last Tuesday I put up a picture on my other blog, the photo at left. Isn’t that vintage poster a treasure? It has it’s very own story of how it came to live with me, but it is the sugared sweet yeasty “cake” at the bottom of the picture that is the point of this post.
It is a “Kingcake”….a pastry joy enjoyed in several incarnations all over Catholic areas of Europe, Central & South America and in New Orleans. In New Orleans, it figures in Mardi Gras celebrations, especially on Fat Tuesday. There are many places to buy these in areas where they are a big deal. And there are many recipes. I have been asked to share mine, so here we go! Be warned, I am one of those cooks for whom measurements are approximate, why dirty spare dishes, eh?
Kingcake Fusion New Orleans by Nor’west!
Organic white flour (between 7 and 8 cups, errr…thereabouts — I pour it from the bag!)
Dried yeast – about 4 tsp or 2 envelopes (NOT fast acting bread machine version)
Sugar – 2/3 to 3/4 cup for dough, another cup for filling
Salt – 1 T – sea salt preferred
Butter – 1/2 cup(8 T) for dough, 1/3 c (5 T) for filling, 1/4 c (4 T)more for icing
1/2 c Greek yogurt
2 large eggs
soft goat cheese — about 4 to 6 oz
cinnamon – several tablespoons to mix in sugar filling, how dark do YOU like it?
pinch of nutmeg, pinch of mace – for with cinnamon in filling sugar
Water — 1/2 c warm, 2 cups VERY hot
1/2 lb powdered sugar for icing
1 tsp vanilla for icing
1-2 T milk for icing
green, yellow, and purple crystallized sugar
An almond, a bean, or a crown charm.
Start by putting the 1/2c warm water in a small bowl and sprinkle the yeast atop it; then sprinkle about 1 T of the sugar over that to sink and start feeding the yeast.
Meanwhile, in a large bowl, chop up 1 stick (1/2 c) of butter and pour the very hot water over it. Add 2/3 a cup of sugar and stir with a whisk until the butter melts. Test the temp with your finger —it should be just warm now. Beat in the eggs, the yogurt, and the now softened puffy yeast. Add about 2 c flour and the salt. Beat HARD with a sturdy whisk or wooden spoon.. until your arm is tired. Now stir in more flour until the dough is very stiff…dump it out on a board covered with flour and knead it until it is smooth — about 10 to 12 minutes. Wash the bowl, grease it and place the dough back in the bowl, cover and set it to rise for one hour.
In the last 15 minutes of that rising hour, prepare your filling. The main two recipe types call for either a cream cheese filling or the classic cinnamon sugar-butter variety. I do neither or both, depending on how you see it. I don’t like cream cheese, so I mix the 5 T of butter — melted, with about 5 or 6 oz of soft ‘chevre’ goat cheese. The soft cheese will whisk into the melted butter to make a smooth creamy blend. I mix about 1 c of the sugar with about 3 T of cinnamon and the other spices.
When the dough is done rising, punch it down and cut it in half. Roll out each half in turn to a rectangle about 12″ x 22″. Spread half the cheese-butter blend over it, sprinkle uniformly with half the cinnamon sugar. Now drop an almond, a bean or a metal ‘crown’ baking charm anywhere on the starting edge of the dough. Roll it up as you would for cinnamon rolls. Use a large round pan…such as for pizza or a cookie sheet, and coil this roll into a circle, seam edge down and overlapping the ends. Let this rise for 30 minutes, while pre-heating the oven to 375 degrees. Repeat with the other half, of course. I used two extra large round cake pans to make kingcakes about 15 to 16 inches across. I needed to get both of these onto one shelf of the oven for even baking, you see.
The nut, bean, or charm is part of the tradition….the diner who gets that portion is supposed to provide NEXT year’s Kingcake! When this is done rising, I slash the tops gently on a diagonal…every 2 or 3 inches, to reveal a bit of the cinnamon color. I pop it into the hot oven and bake for 30 to 40 minutes. The advantage of a flat pan is ease of removal — while hot this is a FRAGILE cake, and just dumping it upside down as you would a loaf of bread could crack the soft pastry open. If you don’t care if it cools IN the pan — which can result in a slightly damp bottom, then there is no problem. I upended mine into a clean kitchen towel, placed a rack on the thus exposed bottom, and right-sided it in front of the above Mardi Gras poster!
For the icing, mix 1/4 c melted butter, 1/2 lb powdered sugar, 1 tsp vanilla, and maybe a couple T milk.
Spread evenly over both cakes, having an
accomplice helper IMMEDIATELY sprinkle the purple, green, and yellow sugar on the wet icing. Each color is allotted about 1/3 of the round cake. Being paganly inclined, I don’t use the usual associations for colors; I use purple for magic, green for health, and gold-yellow for prosperity!