Tuesday, March 4, 2014

The King Cake Mardi Gras Kitchen Adventure...........My Cooking Bucket List

I've been making quite a fuss all week about the King Cake that I want to make for Mardi Gras. Today I made that cake, and here it is!

Mardi Gras is not a huge event in Ohio, but my Cooking Bucket List included a King Cake. 

I only tasted one King Cake some years ago, and after I scraped the last morsel off the roof of my mouth, I started collecting pictures and recipes of this thing. It went onto the Bucket List that day.

The Bucket List includes things like French Bread and Stuffed Grape Leaves, and my Facebook friends have seen the photos as I've checked them off the list. I still have plenty of things to go......

I asked for recipes from Facebook friends, and was rewarded with at least four via email, postings, or referrals to websites. I printed them off and looked them over.  All I knew for sure was that I wanted a cake with that creamy, mooshy, cheesy feeling in my mouth when I hit the first bite. I chose one from Southern Living Magazine that is from www.recipes.com . It allowed me to have a cream cheese filling, or not. I chose to add the filling.............I'm looking for "mooshy," remember.

A friend who is a chef told me I need to put a dime into the cake to give the finder good luck all year, along with the plastic baby that is traditional. I decided to use a quarter so nobody would choke on a dime. I did not have a plastic baby, so planned to use a raisin, until a small "miracle" occurred this morning.

My neighbor arrived at our door carrying a King Cake from the West Point Market.  This is THE grocery store for fine foods. (Go to their web site at www.westpointmarket.com to see how wonderful this store is.) This cake looked exactly the way I hope mine looks tonight, and for one brief moment I actually considered not making my Bucket List item, but then knew that since it was THE PLAN for today, I was going to make it and have "dueling King Cakes" instead. (Do you hear strumming banjoes?)

Actually, the "dueling" thing isn't going to happen now, since the first thing I did was cut into that West Point Market cake and pop a slice into my mouth.

THE MIRACLE happened at that very moment, since I chewed down on the plastic baby from that cake. Good luck to me!  and also I will be doing a baby transplant this afternoon.......(try THAT, Cleveland Clinic!).........so it gets to serve double duty, and I won't have to settle for a raisin in my cake. 

I assumed this to mean there were no calories in the West Point Market cake, so had two more hefty slices before going on with my preparations. Hubby ate a couple of pieces also. The "dueling" is over, since there isn't much left of the gift cake. I've also tossed out plans for lunch and dinner, since the only thing being served in this house today is King Cake.

I gathered up my ingredients and washed the plastic baby and the quarter.  I mixed the yeast, sour cream and butter and heated it on the stovetop, then lowered the temperature to 110 degrees and mixed it into the flour with the yeast, which I added to warm water and some sugar.  My mixer did the rest for awhile.

I kneaded this mound of dough for nearly ten minutes and let it sit in a greased bowl, covered, while it rises.  My recipe says it needs to sit in a place that is 85 degrees.  THIS IS OHIO in March. There IS no place that is 85 degrees, so I put the bowl on top of a heating pad and covered it. It worked for the French Bread, so I hope it works for this, too! After forty minutes the blob hadn't risen, so I turned the heating pad up to HI.

While waiting for the rising, I evaluated one of the ingredients for this thing. I'd spent nearly $8 on yellow, purple and green sugar for the topping. To kill time (so I wouldn't keep peeking to see if the blob was rising), I mixed food coloring with some Turbinado Sugar, also called "Sugar in the Raw," and lo and behold, I was able to make my own colored sugars.  Aside from the colorful fingers, this is a hit! The purple is not true purple, but maybe next year I will get that right......
The first time I make anything is usually a "trauma drama," and this is no different.  The blob rose, and I rolled it out with my heavy rolling pin to a 22" by 15" rectangle.  Now, if you really think that it was a true "rectangle," you're doing better than I am. It was a large ovalish-rectanglish thing.  I took the cheese filling that I mixed up separately and spread that over it, then rolled it up like a jelly roll, being sure to throw in the quarter and the baby.

It didn't roll up as if it were even, and I could feel the filling moving around in there. The directions said to join the ends to make a circle and then to put it seam-side down on the baking sheet.  I knew that if I did that all the filling would ooze out the bottom, so my cake has its seam sort of on the top.

Unbelievably, the recipe also said to bake it at 375 degrees for only 16 minutes. How can that be? At the end of 16 minutes it was not "golden," and did not look what I'd call "done," so I left it in there for about 22 instead.

It is done. My colored sugar adorns it.  Check off one more thing from The Kitchen Bucket List! Will I make it again?  Maybe.  I've got to get the purple right.  Was I entertained all day?  YOU tell ME. :)

Recipe that I followed is called "Cream Cheese Filled King Cake" from Southern Living. Thanks to my friend, Alexis, for sending it to me!

copyright:  KP Gillenwater 2014