Friday, January 8, 2016

Linda's King Cake Recipe



This recipe is cinnamon free!

Note: Teachers and Home School families might appreciate making this treat as a conclusion to a theme unit on Mardi Gras Traditions. Not only are students learning about this cultural event, but the act of making this recipe teaches math (fractions, measurement), following directions (which is a higher order thinking skill), and reading for information. A nice follow-up activity might include having a Mardi Gras tea, designing Mardi Gras floats using shoe boxes, and making a book about the history and traditions of Mardi Gras.



INGREDIENTS:

3-1/2 c. All-purpose flour
1 T. yeast
1 c. milk
1/2 c. sugar
1 t. salt
2 eggs (I use extra large cage-free eggs)
6 T. butter, cut into 12 pieces and brought to room temperature

FILLING:

1 (8-oz.) pkg. cream cheese, softened at room temperature
2/3 c. powdered sugar 
1 t. vanilla flavoring
1 can cherry pie filling
1 miniature plastic baby (you can find these at party stores or in your cake decorating aisle, usually around baby shower items.)  

ICING:

FYI: I just used a can of ready-to-use cream cheese frosting that I microwaved on hi for 30 seconds and spooned on the top of the cake. Once again, confession is good for the soul! Like my cooking hero Sandra Lee, I'm always on the lookout for an easier way to do something. I also found colored sugar in the baking section of my grocery store. But if you insist on doing things from scratch, here's what you'll need:
1 c. powdered sugar
1 T. milk
1/2 t. vanilla

You will also need the following items to decorate your cake:
Food coloring (dark green, purple and yellow)
3/4 c. sugar divided into three equal parts

DIRECTIONS:
1. Mix 2-1/2 cups flour and yeast in bowl of stand mixer, using the paddle attachment on low for about 30 seconds. 

2. Heat milk, sugar, and salt in microwave until sugar dissolves and milk is around 115 degrees F. 
3. With mixer on low, add liquids and mix until incorporated. Add eggs one at a time. Mix until a sticky dough forms then switch to dough hook. Mix in the remaining flour, a little at a time, adding more if needed to make a soft dough. Drop the butter into the mix, one piece at a time, until all of the butter is incorporated.
4. With the dough hook and mixer set on low speed, knead dough for seven to nine minutes, or until the dough forms a ball and separates from the sides of the bowl. Scrape the bowl often. If the dough appears too wet, add flour, a tablespoon at a time. If the dough appears too dry, add water, a teaspoon at a time. 
5. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead a few times by hand, then hand roll the dough into a ball. Oil a large bowl then place the dough into it, turning the dough over so that all sides of the ball are well coated with oil. Cover with plastic wrap or a damp towel and refrigerate one hour.
6. While the dough is chilling, make the cream cheese filling. In a small bowl, cream together the cream cheese, sugar and vanilla. Set aside.
7. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and turn out onto a floured board. Pat the dough into a circle, approximately the size of a large pizza (about 1/4-inch thick). In the center of the dough circle, make a hole with your fingers, then stretch the hole until it is about 4-5 inches in diameter. 
8. Spread the cream cheese filling around the ring of dough, being careful to leave at least a one-inch margin on both the outer and inner edges of the circle. Top the cream cheese filling with a layer of cherry pie filling, one spoonful at a time. 
9. Using your fingers dipped in water, wet both the inner and outer edges of the circle of dough. This will act a glue to seal the filling inside your cake roll. Now carefully fold the outer edge of the dough over the filling (stretching it if necessary) and press it down against the inner edge of the dough with your fingers, sealing it so that none of the filling can leak out during baking.
10. Transfer this ring to a parchment lined or greased baking sheet. Cover the dough with plastic wrap or a damp towel and let it rise until doubled, about one hour. 
11. When the dough is ready, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Bake the cake for about 20-25 minutes, or until the cake is golden brown. Cool for 10 minutes on the baking sheet and then remove the cake to a wire rack and cool completely before icing.
12. After the cake has cooled, make a tiny slit in the bottom of the cake and insert the miniature plastic baby. 
13. To make icing: Mix together the powered sugar, milk and vanilla until smooth (adding additional milk if mixture is too thick or powdered sugar if it is too thin). Using a tablespoon, drizzle icing over the top of the cake, allowing it to cover the top and drip down the sides. 
14. To make colored sugar: Divide sugar into three tiny bowls. Add a few drops of liquid food coloring, one color per bowl (yellow, green and purple--remember that red and blue mixed together make purple!). Mix until fully incorporated and the desired color has been achieved. Sprinkle in diagonal stripes, one color at a time, over top of cream cheese icing.
15. Your King Cake is now ready to cut and serve. You may wish to decorate it further by surrounding it with green, gold, and purple beads, masks, and shiny tinsel.