It’s a well-documented fact that I have a crippling weakness for King Cake. From Epiphany to Mardi Gras, I feast to the point of ridiculousness. We typically purchase our King Cakes from a local place, but at more than $20 bucks a pop, it’s a pricey treat that we really can’t justify in our meager budget this year. Alas, necessity is in fact the mother of invention; my need for King Cake got the better of me last weekend, and we tried our hands at making them at home. The process was much easier than I anticipated. If you have a stand mixer, this recipe is easy-peasy, because the dough hook attachment will do all the kneading for you.
- 1 cup milk
- 1/4 cup butter
- 2 (.25 ounce) packages active dry yeast
- 2/3 cup warm water (110 degrees)
- 1/2 cup white sugar, divided
- 2 eggs
- 1-1/2 teaspoons salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 5-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 cups packed brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 cup melted butter
- 1 (8-oz) package cream cheese, softened
- A few tablespoons of milk for thinning cream cheese filling
- 2-1/2 cups powdered sugar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- Juice of half a lemon
- A few tablespoons of milk for thinning icing
- Purple, green and yellow decorator sugars
- Scald milk, remove from heat and stir in 1/4 cup of butter. Allow mixture to cool to room temperature. In a large bowl (or the bowl of your mixer), 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, salt and nutmeg. Beat the flour into the milk/egg mixture 1 cup at a time (I use my mixer with the dough hook attachment). 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 (or continue using the mixer and let the dough hook to do all the work!).
- 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 2 hours. When risen, punch down and divide dough in half.
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease 2 cookie sheets or line with parchment paper.
- To Make Fillings: Combine the brown sugar, cinnamon and flour. Pour the melted butter over the cinnamon mixture and mix until crumbly. Divide this mixture in half, setting one half aside to use as the plain cinnamon filling. Add the cream cheese to remaining cinnamon mixture, and beat with an electric mixture until smooth and spreadable, adding milk a tablespoon at a time to help you achieve this consistency.
- Roll dough halves out into large rectangles (approximately 16x22 inches or so). For the plain cinnamon cake, sprinkle the reserved cinnamon filling evenly over the dough and roll up tightly like a jelly roll, beginning at the wide side. Bring the ends together to form an oval shaped ring (and try to put forth a little more effort in the shaping than I did…I blame the cocktails). For the cream cheese cake, roll out the other half of the dough and spread the filling evenly over it to ¼ inch from the edges. Roll up and shape into ring as previously described. Let the cakes rise in a warm spot until doubled in size, about 45 minutes.
- Bake in preheated oven for 25 to 35 minutes, until the top is lightly browned. Meanwhile, make the icing by combining powdered sugar, vanilla and lemon juice in a bowl. Whisk in milk a tablespoon at a time, until icing is thick but pourable. Pour icing over warm cakes and decorate with colored sugars.