Tuesday, February 24, 2009

King Cake

No Mardi Gras is complete without one of these.

1/2 cup warm water (110 to 115 degrees)
2 packages active dry yeast
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon sugar
4 cups unsifted flour, as needed
1 teaspoon nutmeg
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1/2 cup warm milk
5 egg yolks
1/2 cup butter cut in slices and softened, plus
2 tablespoons butter
1 egg slightly with1 tablespoon of milk
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tiny plastic doll (not more than 1")
colored sugar green, yellow, and purple

***Poured icing***
3/4 cup confectioners sugar
1/4 cup lemon juice
3 tablespoons water

Pour the warm water into a small shallow bowl and sprinkle yeast and 2 teaspoons sugar into it.
Allow the yeast and sugar to rest for three minutes, then mix thoroughly.
Set bowl in a warm place for 10 minutes until yeast bubbles up.
Combine 31/2 cups of flour, remaining sugar, nutmeg and salt and sift into a large mixing bowl.
Stir in lemon zest.
Separate center of mixture to form a hole and pour in yeast mixture and milk.
Add egg yolks and using a wooden spoon, combine dry ingredients into the yeast/milk mixture.
When mixture is smooth, beat in 8 tablespoons butter, 1 tablespoon at a time and continue to beat 2 minutes or until dough can be formed into a medium soft ball. Place ball of dough on floured surface and knead, gradually adding up to 1 cup more of flour.
When dough is no longer sticky, knead 10 minutes more until shiny and elastic.

Using a pastry brush, coat the inside of a large bowl evenly with one tablespoon softened butter.
Place dough ball in the bowl and rotate until the entire surface is buttered.
Cover bowl with a heavier kitchen towel and allow dough to rise in a warm place for about 11/2 hours or until it doubles in volume.
Coat a large baking sheet with one tablespoon of butter and set aside.
After the first rising, place the dough on a floured surface and punch it down with a heavy blow.
Sprinkle cinnamon, then pat and shape the dough into a long 'snake' or 'cylinder'. Form a twist by folding the long cylinder in half, end to end, and pinching the ends together.
Then twist the dough.
Form a ring with the completed twist pinch the ends together.
Place the completed ring on the buttered baking sheet, cover it with a towel and allow it to rise for 45 minutes or until it doubles in volume.
After the second rising, brush the top and sides of the cake with the egg and milk wash.
Bake in a preheated oven at 375 degrees for 25-35 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on a wire rack and hide the plastic baby in the cake.

Poured icing:

Combine ingredients until smooth, adding more water if it's too thick.
Spoon icing over top of cake.
Immediately sprinkle on colored sugars, alternating between the three colors.
Serve in 2"3" pieces.