Friday, February 8, 2013

Mardi Gras Mambo

This time of year makes me miss home more than ever.  I mean... I guess I always miss home to an extent, but the January-June stretch is the hardest.  J and I make a point to go home for the "big" holidays, but Mardi Gras, MLK Day, and Easter just don't make the cut.

Still, even with the homesickness, February is one of my FAVORITE months!  Only second to October.

Here's why...
  2. I get to paint my nails pink, read sappy love poems, and bake sugar cookies for V-day (even though the hubs refuses to celebrate a "Hallmark Holiday"
Mardi Gras is amazing, and contrary to most Bourbon Street Friends, I love it for reasons other than hurricane drinks and boobs.  
I love it for the King Cake.

The last time I lived 1000 miles from home two friends sent me a King Cake for my birthday.  Later, I found out that those little $20 King Cakes that you find in every bakery and grocery store across Louisiana costs $70 to ship!!!  I refuse to pay that.  So instead, I decided to make one.  The dough is a copy from a recipe I found online, the filling was a fixed version of another recipe I tried, and the frosting and topping were all mine.  I hope you like it!  

Pecan Praline King Cake

1 cup of milk
1/4 cup of butter
4 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
2/3 cup warm water
1/2 cup white sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
5 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

2 cup packed brown sugar
2 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 1/3 cup finely chopped pecans
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup melted butter
2 tablespoons of vanilla extract

1 cup confectioners' sugar
1 (8oz) pack of cream cheese
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1-2 cups milk (or more if the mixture is too thick)
Optional topping:
1 cup white sugar mixed with food coloring (green, purple, and yellow of course)
* I used blueberry juice instead of purple food coloring... It's less additives, less grocery store trips, and it makes a really pretty purple!


Since the dough was a copy from another recipe and because the dough is the MOST important part, I'm going to copy the directions word for word so I don't jack it up.  

1. Scald milk, remove from heat and stir in 1/4 cup of butter.  Allow mixture to cool to room temperature.  In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in the warm water with 1 tablespoon of the white sugar.  Let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes.

2. 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.  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.

3. 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.

I promise it gets a little easier for a while... 

4. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F, and line two cookie sheets with parchment paper

5. For the Filling:  In a medium saucepan melt butter over medium heat, and add the brown sugar, cinnamon, chopped pecans, and flour.  Remove from heat and mix until crumbly.

6. Roll dough halves out into large rectangles.

7. Add the pecan praline filling (and some of the cream cheese frosting mixture if you'd like) along one of the longer sides of the rectangle.  Then, began to roll it up tightly like a pumpkin roll.  Form a circle and connect the two ends tightly.   Slice into the dough at one inch intervals.  Let the formed cake rise in a warm spot for at least an hour until it has doubled in size.  (I left one cake out over night to rise)

8.  Once the cake has doubled in size, place a small ramekin in the center to keep the sides from baking together.  Bake for 27 minutes at 325 degrees F.  

9.  While the cake is baking, melt the cream cheese in a small saucepan, and add 1 cup of milk.  Whisk in the confectioners' sugar.  Add lemon zest, vanilla extract, and a dash of salt.  If the mixture is too think, you can add more milk, or even a little water.  Cook until warm and set aside.

****This recipe makes TWO FULL King Cakes****

- You can also add a plastic baby to the cake if you want to stick to tradition.  ;)  I didn't have one to use for mine.  

I know this is quite a labor of love, but believe me when I say..... IT IS WORTH THE EFFORT!!! 

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