Laissez Les Bon Temps Rouler! So, it’s King Cake season in South Louisiana. Without doubt, someone is either eating or thinking about eating King Cake as I write this. If you’re unfamiliar with the custom, here’s a little information. Until Mardi Gras, which is rather late this year, March 4, King Cakes will be everywhere – at work, social gatherings, and in homes.
Now, everyone has a favorite bakery for King Cake, and people are serious about who they think has the best. McKenzie’s, a now-closed New Orleans bakery, made a brioche King Cake. Personally, I always found it dry and tasteless, but there are still people who reminisce and wax poetic over its perfection. My favorite cake is from Nonna Randazzo’s Bakery – moist, sweet, filled with cinnamon and smothered in delicious glaze – it is the best. Not only does everyone have a favorite bakery, but also a favorite flavor. Essentially, there are two kinds of King Cake, plain or filled, with both having a plastic baby inserted into the cake after it’s baked. Plain is actually prepared like a cinnamon roll, filled with cinnamon and sugar. Filled, on the other hand, can mean many things, cream cheese, cream cheese with praline filling, cream cheese with apple, cream cheese with strawberry, cream cheese with Bavarian cream, I could go on and on. Put it this way, there are no limits. It is South Louisiana, and we don’t do anything concerning food in a small way.
The baby is inserted into the cake after it is baked, so no one eating the cake has any idea where it is located. What happens if you get the slice with the baby? Well, if you’re at work, you are responsible for bringing the next King Cake to the office. If you are at my house, you get to choose the flavor of the next cake. Every family tends to have their own tradition when it comes to the baby. So, what are the favorites at my house? Well, my husband likes a filled cake with cream cheese with either strawberry or raspberry. Andrew likes plain, just like his mama, although, his mama, me, has yet to turn down a slice of King Cake, filled or unfilled, good or bad. It’s Carnival Time, and it’s all good!
Strawberry and Cream Cheese King Cake
16 oz container sour cream
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter
1 teaspoon salt
2 (1/4-ounce) envelopes active dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water (100° to 110°)
1 tablespoon sugar
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
6 to 6 1/2 cups AP or Gluten-Free flour (I used Cup4Cup)
3/4 cup sugar
16 oz cream cheese, softened
1 large egg
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup strawberry jam, divided
Cook first 4 ingredients in a medium saucepan over low heat, stirring often, until butter melts.
Set aside, and cool mixture to 100° to 110°.
Stir together yeast, 1/2 cup warm water, and 1 tablespoon sugar in a 1-cup glass measuring cup; let stand 5 minutes.
Beat sour cream mixture, yeast mixture, eggs, and 2 cups flour at medium speed with a heavy-duty electric stand mixer until smooth. Reduce speed to low, and gradually add enough remaining flour (4 to 4 1/2 cups) until a soft dough forms.
Switch to dough hook and knead until smooth and elastic (about 10 minutes).
Place in a well-greased bowl, turning to grease top.
Cover and let rise in a warm place for 1 hour or until dough is doubled in bulk.
Punch down dough, and divide in half. Roll each portion into a 22- x 12-inch rectangle.
Beat 3/4 cup sugar, cream cheese, 1 egg, and vanilla at medium speed with an electric mixer until smooth.
Spread cream cheese mixture evenly on each dough rectangle, leaving 1-inch borders.
Carefully dollop 1/2 cup of the strawberry jam onto cream cheese, spread with the back of a spoon to make a thin layer.
Roll up each dough rectangle, jelly-roll fashion, starting at 1 long side. Place one dough roll, seam side down, on a lightly greased baking sheet.
Bring ends of roll together to form an oval ring, moistening and pinching edges together to seal. Repeat with second dough roll.
Cover and let rise in a warm place (85°), free from drafts, 20 to 30 minutes or until doubled in bulk.
Bake at 375° for 14 to 16 minutes or until golden. Slightly cool cakes on pans on wire racks (about 10 minutes)
Insert baby (underneath cake), then ice with vanilla glaze.
3 cups powdered sugar
3 tablespoons butter, melted
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
2-4 tablespoons milk
Stir together first 4 ingredients.
Add 2 tablespoons milk, adding additional milk, 1 teaspoon at a time, until spreading consistency.
Recipe source: Southern Living
Linked to the following:
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