Saturday, February 16, 2013

Cream Cheese-Filled King Cake

My 2 King Cakes!
Happy Mardi Gras!  Well, okay, I am a little late in wishing you that, but the cake was not late, despite the fact that I was baking it in a blizzard.

Let me start from the beginning: a few weeks ago, Anne asked me if I would help her out with baking some king cakes for our church's annual Mardi Gras party.  Apparently you can order them to be shipped from Louisiana,  but it will cost you an arm and a leg. Last year, if you remember (or if you don't, like my mother),  I made a king cake over February vacation after watching how to do it on the Today show.  So I knew I could easily handle whipping one up for the party.  She asked for a regular one like last year's, but also a cream cheese-filled one.  Since the traditional one already got its own blog post, this will be dedicated to the cream cheese-filled cake cake!

The dough of this cake was different than the more traditional one; it was flavored with nutmeg and lemon zest.  I am a huge believer of the wonderfulness of lemon zest; it just makes everything pop and brighten up flavors a little more.  It is a yeast cake, so it does take a while.  And it was not easy to roll the risen dough to a 20-by-10-inch rectangle.  In fact I found it nearly impossible.  But I tried.  Then I spread on the filling, which had more lemon zest (yay!), folded it over, and attempted to make a large ring out of the tube of dough.  I definitely made a ring, but it was not so large.  It was tough to work with a tube of dough filled with cream cheese filling without squashing it or squeezing out the insides, so while it may not have looked perfect, it was still a ring (at least until I baked it and the center hole sort of disappeared, but that's okay too!)
It is SORT of a ring...
Rachael and Mom helped me to decorate it.  One thing I love about king cakes is that they are not really supposed to look nice.  They get frosted and then decorated with Mardi Gras-colored sprinkles.  It's okay if they look tacky and garish because that is kind of the point!  That's good to hear because I still, more than a year after learning to cook, suck at making anything look nice.  But we frosted and sprinkled to our heart's content.

Rachael sprinkling
I was a little worried about this cake, because I never got to try it before I sent it off to the party.  And to make things worse, I made it Friday, since I had a snow day and Mardi Gras was scheduled for Saturday... but then Saturday the blizzard was still going so it was pushed off till Sunday.  However, I think having the cream cheese in there helped it to stay moist, luckily, because although I didn't get to eat this, the ladies at the Mardi Gras did, and not a scrap was left!  Whereas the other cake only had maybe a quarter missing, this one went completely.  And I even got a Facebook message from one of the women telling me that the "cake with the lemon filling" was "absolutely delicious!"  So I guess I can infer from that that the cream cheese filling is lemony and good, and the cake itself was a hit!

It was good to know that this cake could be made a day or so before you plan on serving it.  I recommend not frosting it until the day of, though.  That's what I did, and it seemed to work out well :)


cream cheese-filled king cake
from Gourmet Girl


for dough:
2 1/4 teaspoons yeast or 1 package instant yeast
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup butter softened (1/2 stick)
2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 egg, room temperature
1 teaspoon nutmeg
grated zest of one lemon (1 tablespoon)
2 1/2 cups flour

for filling:
10 oz. cream cheese
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 teaspoon vanilla

2 cups powdered sugar
2 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
colored sugars (green, purple and yellow)

1. Heat milk to 105-110 degrees in a small saucepan over low heat (to be honest, I was lazy and microwaved it briefly!). Place milk in the bowl of a standing mixer, add yeast and stir to combine. Allow milk mixture to rest for about 10 minutes or until frothy.

2. Beat the egg in a small bowl and add to milk mixture. Then add 2 1/2 cups flour, butter, sugar, salt, nutmeg and lemon zest. With the dough hook on low speed, mix until dough comes together. The dough will be slightly sticky, not too wet. If the dough seems very moist you may add up to 1/2 cup additional flour 1 tablespoon at a time (but less is more!). 

3. Transfer dough to a lightly floured surface and knead for a few minutes until dough is soft and smooth. Place dough in a lightly oiled bowl and cover with a towel or plastic wrap. Allow dough to rise in a warm and draft-free place for about an hour, or until doubled in size. 

4. Make filling by beating the cream cheese, vanilla, and sugar together with a mixer until fluffy then set aside.

5. Lay dough on lightly floured surface, punch down and roll into a 20" by 10" rectangle. Spread cream cheese mixture evenly on one half of the dough, then fold other half over to cover. Pinch dough together to seal in cream cheese. Make a ring and pinch ends together, the ring can be a circle or oval. Place on a parchment lined cookie sheet, cover loosely with plastic wrap and allow to rose for 45 minutes.

6. In 375 degree oven bake king cake for 20 minutes or until slightly browned. Remove from oven and set a side to cool. (If you plan on adding a plastic baby, as tradition states, you should poke it into the bottom of the cake now!  The person who gets the baby will have good luck this year).

7. Mix icing ingredients together and whisk until smooth. Drizzle icing heavily over king cake, and while still wet, sprinkle with colored sugars.

Mom frosting my other king cake :)

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