Lundi Gras

Hello lovelies!  I’m glad to be back after a brief hiatus last week.  Let’s just say having a cold, tests, work, and school don’t allow much time for blogging.  But, good news is I’m feeling much better and ready to celebrate Mardi Gras!! To help y’all get in the Cajun spirit I’m sharing a great recipe for a king cake. My mom and cousin make the most amazing homemade king cakes {can’t wait to go home and eat some}!  They’re fairly easy to make and taste incredible compared to store bought versions.

King Cake recipe {adapted from “Clone of a Cinnabon” cinnamon roll recipe at allrecipes.com}

+ Ingredients for dough:

1 cup scalded & cooled milk (cool to approximately 110 degrees F)

2 eggs, room temperature

1/3 cup butter (this is approximately 5 ½ tablespoons), melted

1 tsp vanilla

4 ½ cups bread flour (and more for kneading)

1 tsp salt

½ cup white sugar

2 ½ tsp active dry yeast

½ tablespoon butter, softened for buttering rising bowl

+ Ingredients for filling:

¼ cup butter, room temperature

¼ cup brown sugar, packed

¼ cup white sugar

1 ¼ tablespoons ground cinnamon

1/8 to ¼ tsp freshly grated nutmeg

+ Ingredients for icing:

3 oz pk cream cheese, softened

¼ cup butter, softened

1 ½ cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted

½ tsp vanilla extract

1/8 tsp salt

+ Directions for dough:

**If you would prefer to use a stand mixer, use whisk attachment to mix wet ingredients.  Change to dough hook, then add flour/salt mixture one large spoonful at a time until incorporated.  Knead with the dough hook in the mixer for about 3-4 minutes, until smooth.  Place in buttered bowl (not bowl of stand mixer) and allow to rise as directed.**

+ Directions to make dough “by hand”:

Scald 1 cup milk (I do it in the microwave at 30 second intervals, until I see small bubbles – not a rolling boil – and a film start to develop on top of the milk).  Allow milk to cool until about 110 degrees F (still warm to the touch but not “hot”).  Scalding the milk is important because it stops the natural effect milk has on the dough which would have prevented rising.

When milk has cooled, add yeast & ½ teaspoon of the ½ cup sugar needed for the dough.  Whisk together and allow to proof – it should foam up and be nice and bubbly in about 5 minutes.

In large bowl, whisk together flour & salt and make a well in the middle.

In a 1 quart bowl or measuring cup, whisk together milk & yeast mixture, melted butter, the remainder of the ½ cup sugar, eggs, and vanilla.

Add wet mixture to well in the dry mixture bowl and gently stir to mix.

When all ingredients have been incorporated, allow to sit for about 5 minutes – this will ensure that the flour has absorbed the moisture in the mix.

Butter a large bowl (this will be where the dough will rise).  I usually just use the same bowl used to mix the dough.

Turn out dough onto a well-floured board, making sure to scrape all dough from the bowl.  I suggest using a dough scraper (I really like the silicone ones that bend to the contours of a bowl) and then using the dough scraper to knead the dough without adding too much extra flour – use the scraper to help fold the dough on top of itself in a scraping and folding motion until it isn’t too sticky and can be kneaded by hand.  Knead until dough is smooth.

Make a nice round ball of dough, smooth side up, and place in buttered bowl.

Cover with a damp towel and place in the oven with the light on for about 1 ½ hours (or until dough has doubled).

+ For filling:

Whisk together cinnamon, sugars, & nutmeg

After dough has risen, gently push down to deflate (no punching as most people may think).  Turn out onto a lightly floured board, cover with damp cloth and allow to rest for about 5 minutes.

Using a lightly floured rolling pin, roll the dough into a large rectangle about ¼” thick – about 18”x25” – longer and narrower is better as you want it to be long enough to loop into a circle and you want it thin enough when rolled up that it baked through.

Using an offset spatula, gently spread softened butter onto all but about 1” along the top long edge.  Sprinkle filling mixture and use your fingers to spread it evenly.  With your fingers, lightly wet (with plain water) the top 1” left unbuttered – this will help the roll stick together.

Carefully transfer roll to a parchment lined baking sheet and arrange in a circle, gently stretching the roll if needed to make appropriate shape/size.  Use a little bit of water to “glue” the ends together.

Place pan, uncovered, in oven with the light on for approximately 1 hour (again, you’re looking for a rise of about double).

Carefully remove pan and preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Bake in preheated oven for 25-30 minutes, until medium golden brown, turning if needed to avoid hot spots in your oven (where it may cause over-browning and under-browning on different areas of the king cake).

Allow cake to cool before icing & decorating.

+ For icing:

Mix all ingredients with either a hand- or stand-mixer until smooth and creamy.  If desired, you may thin with a teaspoon or two of water.

Spread the icing over cooled king cake & sprinkle with purple, green, and gold sanding sugar.

Enjoy!

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