I used to be afraid of yeast breads until my homesickness for New Orleans drove me to baking my own King Cake, a sweet bread traditionally served in the Mardi Gras season. I offer this “recipe” to anyone worried about screwing up a recipe requiring yeast. As you’ll see conditions in my kitchen are less than ideal, and we usually do just fine. Real recipe to come later this week.
Mardi Gras King Cake
Clear out space around the stand mixer, ignoring the tower of dirty dishes just beyond sight.
Search for recipe in recipe binder, don’t find it. Pull it out of the pile of recipes waiting to be put back in their proper place.
Yell at the 8yo that she will do nothing fun today until her room is clean.
Ask the 5yo to play with the 11mo in the living room so he is no longer pulling pots and pans out of the cabinet beneath you.
Fearful moment #1: think that you only have one envelope of yeast found with the spices. Feel better when you find three more packets of yeast with — surprise! — the baking supplies.
Mix yeast and sugar with warm water in a small bowl, set on stovetop next to leftover pancakes and bacon grease from breakfast.
In bowl of stand mixer, combine cups flour, (Crap! you only have 2 cups of AP flour. Scrounge 2 more cups of cake flour. Pray you won’t need the fifth cup of flour since all that’s left is whole wheat.) sugar, salt, nutmeg (use a nice heaping teaspoon since it’s old and probably not all that flavorful anymore), lemon rind.
Fearful moment #2: is all the butter in the freezer? Phew. No. Cut up 1 stick of butter into milk and nuke them together. Re-read handwritten note to not forget milk and butter in the microwave like you did the last two times you made this.
Fearful moment #3: There are NO EGGS in the house. No getting around this. Wish you had taken a shower, throw on the jeans you wore last night (bra optional), and run out the door, yelling to your hubby that you have to go to the grocery store before the yeast mixture blows up all over the kitchen.
Drive to the store, listening to local radio station story about how sailboats need to protect themselves from lightening strikes. Start thinking about getting the big kids into swimming lessons before the summer starts. Nearly pass the grocery store because you’ve forgotten what you’re doing. Wonder if you have adult ADD.
Pick up eggs and AP flour, head home.
Wash hands thoroughly, separate eggs with hands, resolve to do something with the growing collection of egg whites in the freezer. Add warm milk, butter, and egg yolks to dry ingredients, start mixing. Second guess starting out with the dough hook instead of the flat mixing paddle. Switch out the dough hook for the paddle. Realize 20 seconds later that the dough hook would have been fine. Mix until well blended, knead with dough hook, adding last cup of flour until dough is no longer sticky.
Kiss hubby and the big kids as they head out for church. Put the baby down for a nap.
Place the dough in a well-greased bowl. Turn once so greased surface is on top.
Catch up on Facebook. Start a blog entry. Shower. Get dressed, hoping the baby might fall asleep again. Get him a bottle when he doesn’t. Kiss family members returning from church.
Start on filling. Crap. No cream cheese. No vanilla extract. Seriously? Send hubby out for second grocery run of the day.
Punch the dough down and place on a lightly floured surface. Shape the dough into a cylinder, about 30 inches long.
Mix brown sugar, vanilla extract, cinnamon, ground allspice, salt, maple syrup, and softened cream cheese. Spread filling over middle of dough. Fold edges toward the middle. Shape into a ring, pinching ends together to seal. Place a well-greased 2-pound coffee can or shortening can in the center of the ring to maintain shape during baking. Cover the ring with a towel, and let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 45 minutes.
Throw lunch together, sit down with the family. Don’t eat too much, because, there is, after all, king cake to eat later.
Bake cake for 30 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove the coffee can immediately. Allow the cake to cool.
Combine confectioner sugar and the lemon juice. Invite very sweet children over. Drizzle glaze over cake. Let kids decorate cake with colored sugar sprinkles.
Cut cake. Enjoy. Listen to hubby say it’s the best king cake you’ve ever made.