Wednesday, February 22, 2012

King Cake

My love affair with king cake started about seven years ago. My husband and I had picked one up from a Giant Eagle bakery and we loved it! Sadly, that was also the last year we ever saw one there.

Every year around Mardi Gras, I kept my eyes opened for just the right cake. We've tried several, but none were that good or very memorable. Last year, I went a step further in my search. I contacted several Giant Eagle stores around town hoping to surprise my husband with the real deal. I was so excited when I found one store had the materials to make us one! We were so excited to have our beloved original cake get in our bellies. Only it wasn't our beloved cake. It was completely sub par: dry, bland, mediocre.

This year, I decided enough was enough. It was time to take matters into my own hands. Armed with a delicious sounding (and looking!) recipe from Bunkycooks, I set to work. I had the dough made and rising in about 30 minutes. While the dough rose, I assembled my filling, cleaned up the kitchen, and perused Pinterest, not necessarily in that order.

The dough took about an hour and a half to rise, and was a dream to roll out,  needing very little flour. The entire assembly process for two cakes only took about 15 minutes. After a 45 minute rise, they were ready for the oven. 25 minutes later, they were out of the oven and ready to get fancy. Yea Mardi Gras!

The results were sublime. King cake is a bit of a misnomer as this is definitely a sweet bread, but what a delicious sweet bread it is. The filling which includes brown sugar, raisins, and pecans is so good; the hint of nutmeg in the pastry was just perfect; and the incredibly simple powdered sugar/water icing brought it all together beautifully. I daresay, it was even better than the original king cake we had spent so many years looking for. My good friend Jo declared that making this should become a new tradition and I couldn't agree more.

Even though Mardi Gras is over for this year, do yourself a favor and don't put off making this until next year. Through it together, top it with some pretty pastel icing and call it "Easter Cake." People will thank you. Or throw some green sprinkles on there and it's "Shamrock Cake." Halloween? You know what to do.  

King Cake
Yield: 2 cakes
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 2 (.25 ounce) packages active dry yeast
  • 2/3 cup warm water (110° F)
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
  • 5 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. ground cinnamon
  • 2/3 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1/2 cup melted butter 
  • 2 cup confectioners' sugar, divided
  • 2- 2½ Tbsp. water, divided
For pastry:
Scald milk, remove from heat and stir in 1/4 cup of butter. Allow mixture to cool to room temperature. In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in the warm water with 1 tablespoon of the white sugar. Let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes.

When yeast mixture is bubbling, add the cooled milk mixture. Whisk in the eggs. Stir in the remaining white sugar and salt. Combine the flour and the nutmeg. Beat the flour/nutmeg mixture into the milk/egg mixture 1 cup at a time. When the dough has pulled together, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 8 to 10 minutes. Alternatively, if using a stand mixer, switch to the dough hook and mix at medium speed for 6-7 minutes, or until smooth and elastic.

Lightly oil a large bowl, place the dough in the bowl and turn to coat with oil. Cover with a damp cloth or plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, about 1.5-2 hours. When risen, punch down and divide dough in half.

Preheat oven to 375°. Grease 2 cookie sheets or line with parchment paper.

For filling:
Combine the brown sugar, ground cinnamon, chopped pecans, 1/2 cup flour and 1/2 cup raisins. Pour 1/2 cup melted butter over the cinnamon mixture and mix until crumbly.

To assemble:
Roll dough halves out into large rectangles (approximately 10x16 inches or so). Sprinkle the filling evenly over the dough and roll up each half tightly like a jelly roll, beginning at the wide side. Bring the ends of each roll together to form 2 oval shaped rings. Place each ring on a prepared cookie sheet. With scissors or a very sharp knife, make cuts 1/3 of the way through the rings at 1 inch intervals. Let rise in a warm spot until doubled in size, about 45 minutes.

Bake in preheated oven for 25-30 minutes. Push the doll or large pecan, if using, into the bottom of the cake. Frost while warm with the confectioners' sugar blended with 1 to 2 tablespoons of water.
Note: My cakes took about 25 minutes to bake. I covered them with aluminum foil at about 15 minutes to avoid excessive browning, and rotated the pans top to bottom/left to right halfway through baking.

Note: When you are ready to ice the cakes, you will want to make the icing separate (1 c. powdered sugar and 1 Tbsp. water) for each cake, especially if you are going to sprinkle them with colored sugars. The icing hardens pretty quickly.

Source: Bunkycooks


  1. Best...........cake...........ever

    Had to give some away for the sake of our waistlines.

  2. Seeing this makes me want it again... I don't blame Mom for it being gobbled up so quick it is so yummy!