king cake: me versus yeast

This past Monday was Dixie’s birthday. As per my usual tradition, I used this as an excuse to pack my apartment with some of my most favorite NYC people for a brunch. After realizing last year how close February 21 is to Mardi Gras, I decided to order a king cake from Gambino’s. It was delicious and made for a fun colorful addition to the brunch spread. This year though I was feeling a bit adventurous. I could make my own … right?

The steam from the kettle helped in getting the dough to rise properly (great tip from mom).

The steam from the kettle helped in getting the dough to rise properly (great tip from mom).

I used this recipe from SouthernLiving, and halved the ingredients to make only one cake. Having never baked with yeast, I thought it would be best if I did a trial run. Best decision ever. I was worried the yeast wouldn’t rise properly, or that I’d over mix or knead. Turns out that wasn’t the problem. I chose to fill mine with cream cheese, as that’s how I prefer my king cake. The recipe makes a fair amount of filling, so I believe I used a bit more than I needed to. I also didn’t fight the dough’s tendency to want to ball back up. Even though I stretched it into am oval, it kept going right back to it’s original circular form and I figured it wouldn’t look perfect, but would taste fine.

Final Product - Test Run

Final Product - Test Run

Wrong. This made the cake too thick and caused issues in baking. I didn’t want the exterior to dry out, which ended up meaning it wasn’t done all the way through. Don’t get me wrong. It was still good, but it required strategic eating to avoid the dough-y portions. And yes, it came out looking like a giant donut!

For the actual brunch, I prepared the cake a day in advance and waited to ice the cake until the morning of. I used a bit more flour in the final step before kneading, which is what I believe made the texture come out on the drier side as compared to the first one. This time, I fought and rolled the dough out to a much longer dimension on the sides. I also bought an 11″ x 15″ baking sheet to better accomodate the cake. I only used a thin layer of the cream cheese filling, and opted to add a sprinkling of cinnamon as well after spreading the filling (the recipe says to omit the cinnamon, but I found it needed a bit something extra after trying the first time).

Rolling up the dough rectangle

Rolling up the dough rectangle

When I took the roll and connected it into the oval, again I found the yeast fighting to pull itself into a circle. This time though, I prevailed! It did mean that the top layer did tear back in a few places and the top surface became less smooth, but I figured the cake actually cooking correctly was priority over maintaining the cosmetic aspect.

The surface was a bit bumpy, but the glaze helps to eventually hide this.

The surface was a bit bumpy, but the glaze helps to eventually hide this.

The recipe says to bake for 14-16 minutes, but I baked mine closer to 18-20 (in part just a precaution due to it not having been done the first time).

Finished King Cake

Finished King Cake

Thank goodness this one came out just perfect. If I can manage to make it work on my 1′ x 1.5′ counter space, I’m confident you can too. Laissez les bons temps rouler!

Pooped Birthday Girl

Pooped Birthday Girl

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One thought on “king cake: me versus yeast

  1. Nice king cake! I just made one myself, and I have to say that you got a very nice ovular shape to yours! And you’re totally right about having to fight with the dough!

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