Tuesday, March 2, 2010

New Orleans King Cake and Coffee Cake

King Cake
This recipe is from my guest chef, Amy! This is her Grandma's recipe for sweet yeast coffee cake. This dough is great for king cakes.  Thanks Amy and Grandma Stahlke! 

Grandma Stahlke's Coffee Cake Dough
(click to print)

1pkg yeast
1/4 c warm water
6 T milk, scalded and cooled
4 c. flour
1 c butter, softened
3/4 c sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
4 eggs
melted butter
2 tbs milk

Filling

1 cup confectioners sugar
1 lb cream cheese
1-2 tsp cinnamon (optional)

Icing
3 cups confectioners sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp almond extract (opt)
3 tbs milk

Dissolve yeast in warm water. Add milk and enough flour (about 1/2 c) to make soft dough. In another bowl combine butter, sugar, salt and eggs with mixer. Add the soft ball of yeast dough and mix thoroughly. Gradually add 2 1/2 cups of flour to make a soft dough.
Place dough in greased bowl and brush the top with butter, covering the dough with the butter. Cover with a damp cloth and let rise until doubled, about three hours.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the cream cheese and 1 cup of the confectioners sugar. Blend by hand or with an electric mixer on low speed.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Gently roll it out into a rectangle about 30 inches long and 6 inches wide.

Spread the filling lengthwise over the bottom half of the dough, then flip the top half of the dough over the filling. Seal the edges, pinching the dough together. Shape the dough into a cylinder and place it on the prepared baking sheet seam side down. Shape the dough into a ring and pinch the ends together so there isn't a seam. Insert the king cake baby or pecan half into the ring from the bottom so that it is completely hidden by the dough (the cakes you get in the stores in New Orleans have the baby on top after the cake is cooled, but the tradition is to hide the baby so the person with that piece has to make the next cake and/or host the next party).

Cover the ring with plastic wrap or a clean kitchen towel and place in a warm, draft-free place. Let the dough rise until doubled in size, about 45 minutes.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350F.

Brush the top of the risen cake with 2 tablespoons of milk. Bake until golden brown, 25 to 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool completely on a wire rack.

Make the icing. Combine the remaining 3 tablespoons milk, the vanilla and almond, and the remaining 3 cups confectioners sugar in medium-size mixing bowl. Stir to blend well. With a rubber spatula, spread the icing evenly over the top of the cake. Sprinkle with the sugar crystals, alternating colors (purple, green and gold) around the cake. You can also substitute lemon extract for the vanilla and almond or three tbs lemon juice if you want lemon icing instead of vanilla.

An alternate filling I plan on trying this year comes from my friend Susan B. (ME!!! whoohoo!), who lived in New Orleans. She says this one is the closest to the traditional "plain king cake" filling. She uses 2 cups pecans that she puts in the food processor until they become a paste,1 stick of soft butter, 1 tbsp of cinnamon, 1 tsp allspice, 2-3 tsp vanilla and 1 tsp of butter flavoring, 1/2 c sugar. Process it all together and then spread it on the dough. Lightly sprinkle cinnamon over the dough before spreading the paste as your filling.
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