This is a post from 2008... so yes, since I'm not posting right now- I am recycling! I thought it might be of current interest.
Stemming back to the 1700's, King Cakes are the traditional celebratory cake of Mardi Gras. Originally king cakes were served at Mardi Gras Parties and the king cake held a bean inside instead of a plastic baby. When served, the "lucky" person having the bean on their plate was named the king or queen of the party, and was then responsible for holding the next Mardi gras party which would include all the guests present at the party where the bean was found.
Living in South Louisiana, I have eaten more than my fair share of King cake. The bakeries make them in just about every flavor imaginable. The most popular are Praline and cream cheese, which is my favorite. Up until today I had not made my own king cake, but a few days ago I stumbled across this Swedish Ring at Tartelette and knew it would be perfect for my cake. I used the dough portion of her recipe and adapted it to make my king cake, then filled it with cream cheese.
I am not an avid yeast user, so making bread which uses yeast as it's leavening always makes me a little nervous. I followed her directions exactly, but the first batch of dough turned out a bit dry. I made a second batch with less flour and it was perfect. We emailed back and forth and she confirmed it was the flour, she had forgotten to write to add the flour in stages. Since the first I made this I have learned to add flour slowly- you can always add more, but can never take it away.
Cream Cheese filled King Cake
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
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. 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. (having made my dough twice using both amounts of flour, I found less flour worked best as I incorporated a little extra flour when kneading it by hand).
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. (Since it is quite a cold day today and my house is a little drafty I turned on the oven and sat the bowl on the range).
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. I add the bean at this point by making a small slit underneath the cake with a paring knife.
7. Mix icing ingredients together and whisk until smooth. Drizzle icing heavily over king cake, and while still wet, sprinkle with colored sugars.
Happy Mardi Gras!!