A braided yeast cake can seem pretty adventurous for an amateur baker, but I’ve recently discovered it really isn’t that hard. You just need a little patience. Okay, maybe a lot of patience; but, like with most things, the possibilities are endless and the sweet doughy, filled cakes that result are worth all the time and energy.
My favorite thing about baking king cakes is that once you’ve got your go-to recipe for the dough that you like, the filling can be anything you wish.
Read the full Stirring It Up article for more about king cakes at www.citysocial.com or pick up a copy at your local store this week! Happy Mardi Gras!
Fig Filled King Cake with Orange Cream Cheese Icing
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 package (2 1/4 teaspoons) dry active yeast
1 cup milk
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened, cut into 12 pieces
6 – 8 preserved figs
1/4 cup syrup from figs
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1, 8-ounce package cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
3 tablespoons orange juice
1 teaspoons grated orange zest
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
Whisk together 2 1/2 cups of the flour and yeast in mixing bowl. Heat milk, sugar and salt in a small saucepan over medium heat until sugar is dissolved and milk is about 120 degrees Fahrenheit. With a mixer on low, pour milk into the flour while mixing. Next, add eggs one at a time. Continue mixing until a shaggy dough forms. Switch to dough hook. Mix in the remaining 1 cup flour gradually. Add the softened butter, a few pieces at a time. Knead for about eight minutes on low. You may have to stop and scrape the dough hook every few minutes. The dough should not stick to the sides of the bowl.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead a few times by hand. Form the dough into a ball. Place dough into a greased bowl and turn once to coat the dough. Cover with plastic wrap and chill for 1 hour.
While the dough is chilling, pulse figs, syrup and butter in a food processor until well blended and easy to spread. Set aside.
On a floured surface, roll the chilled dough into a 10 x 20-inch rectangle. Spread the filling over the long half of the dough. Fold over the clean half and press the edges together. Use a pizza cutter to cut the dough into 3 long strips. Braid the strips together and tuck in the ends. Place the cake on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper, cover and let rise for 1 hour at room temperature. Then, bake the king cake at 350 for 25 minutes. Allow the cake to cool completely on a wire rack before icing.
To make the icing: Using electric mixer, beat cream cheese and butter in large bowl. Beat in orange juice and orange zest. Add sugar slowly, while beating until smooth. Chill until thickened, but still able to spread, about 30 minutes.
To make this version, prepare the dough from the recipe above; substitute milk with eggnog or heavy cream and use 1/2 cup Nutella chocolate spread for the filling. This helps get rid of that last bit of eggnog in the fridge.