King Cake

Adapted from the Kitchenaid stand mixer instruction manual and recipes from a couple of websites that are no longer operational.

Yes, you’ll need a stand mixer for this or, if Kitchenaid can be believed, one minute in the machine equals 12 minutes of kneading by hand, so you can always roll up your sleeves and give your arms a much-needed workout … fatty.

3/4 cup low-fat milk
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup butter
2 packages active dry yeast
1/3 cup warm water (105°F to 115°F)
1/2 tablespoon ground dried lemon peel
3 whole eggs plus 2 egg yolks, room temperature
5 1/2 – 6 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon vital wheat gluten or dough enhancer
Cinnamon filling, recipe follows
Light lemon glaze, recipe follows
Sanding sugar in purple, gold, and green
Dried red bean or plastic baby

Place milk, sugar, salt, and butter in small saucepan. Heat over low heat until butter melts and sugar dissolves. Cool to lukewarm.

Dissolve yeast in warm water in warmed mixer bowl. Add lukewarm milk mixture, eggs, dried lemon peel, wheat gluten/dough enhancer, and 5 cups flour. Attach bowl and dough hook to mixer. Turn to Speed 2 and mix about 2 minutes. Continuing on Speed 2, add remaining flour, 1/2 cup at a time, and mix about 2 minutes, or until dough clings to hook and cleans sides of bowl.

Knead on Speed 2 about 2 minutes longer. Place dough in greased bowl, turning to grease top. Cover. Let rise in warm place, free from draft, about 1 hour, or until doubled in bulk.

Punch down the dough and place it on a lightly floured countertop. Flatten or roll it out into a 1-inch thick and 5-inches wide rectangle, or just do your best to make it a long, skinny rectangle. I haven’t quite figured out how to make dough behave, but the cake tasted pretty good, anyway. Top the dough with cinnamon filling, leaving about 1/2-inch of clean dough around the edges. Wet the edges of the dough along the far, long side. Roll up the dough into a long, skinny snake-like shape and press to seal the wet edges. Form the dough into a circle or oblong (depending on the shape of your platter), pinch the ends together to seal (use water, if necessary) and carefully transfer it to a buttered baking sheet.

Cover the dough with a damp towel and let rise in a warm place for about 50 minutes. Place in a cold oven, turn on to 375 degrees, and bake for about 45 minutes until well risen and golden brown. Remove from oven and cool on baking sheet.

If you’re making a traditional king cake, transfer cake to serving platter and insert cleaned dried red bean or plastic baby into the underside of the cake. Pour light lemon glaze all over the cake and dust in bands with sanding sugar. It should look something like this when you’re finished, though I couldn’t find purple sanding sugar here and settled for the multicolored sugar beads you see.

Cinnamon Filling
adapted from a recipe on a website that no longer exists

4 tablespoons butter or margarine, melted (optional)
2 cups brown or granulated sugar
4 tablespoons ground cinnamon
1/4 cup flour or oatmeal

Mix together and spread on dough. I didn’t use the butter when I made my king cake and wish I had. Let my regret guide you — this isn’t health food, so don’t deprive yourself.

Light Lemon Glaze
adapted from a recipe on a website that no longer exists

2 cup sifted powdered sugar
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice,
1 teaspoon grated fresh lemon rind
a dash of salt
3 tablespoons hot water 2 tablespoons butter

Mix until smooth.

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