Sunday, March 2, 2014

king cake (with a cinnamon-chocolate filling)

Given that I had this weekend off with zero school obligations and given that my sister Stephanie was coming home on Saturday afternoon, I wanted to bake something magical.  Of course, living in St. Louis, the city with the second biggest Mardis Gras celebration in the country, I felt a king cake was in order.

Visions of making this king cake danced in my head:  its mascarpone pastry filling, salted caramel,  flambeed bananas, fresh pecans, and praline glaze were forcing my hand, right?

Well, unfortunately, the voice of reason (also known as Nick) informed me that there was no way I could make all those components on Saturday morning.  The voice of reason also didn't sound like he wanted to wash all my dishes and smooth over all my panicked I'm-in-a-hurry-so-I-messed-this-up moments either were I to choose that route.

Fortunately, I settled on this recipe (I modified it by filling it with chocolate babka filling, of course.  Indeed, I overfilled it, if you asked the voice of reason) and was able to bake it up, frost it, and still put together some copycat gogi bowls by the time Steph arrived at my parents.  Not without some dish-washing and bulgogi-searing help, of course, from that Nick kid, who, I begrudgingly admit, was probably right about my not being able to do everything.


for the sweet dough
2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast (1 packet)
1/2 cup milk at 100 to 100 degrees F
1 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoons melted butter
1 egg yolk
2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt

for the filling
5 tablespoons melted butter, divided
12 ounces finely chopped semi-sweet Ghiradelli chocolate
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/3 cup sugar

for the frosting
~2 tablespoons milk
1 cup confectioners sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Purple, yellow, and green gel food dye or sanding sugar


make the sweet dough
In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, combine the yeast, milk, and 1 tablespoon of sugar.  Let stand 5 minutes until foamy to allow the yeast to proof.
When proofed, add the melted butter and the egg yolk and stir to combine.  Stir in the flour and salt using large wooden spoon or a spatula until a tacky dough has formed.  When a smooth, slightly tacky dough has formed, knead for 5 minutes.  Place dough in a greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap.  Let rise for 1 to 1 1/2 hours until doubled in volume.

make the filling & assemble
In a large bowl, stir together the 1/3 cup sugar with the finely chopped chocolate and the cinnamon.  Roll dough out in a large rectangle that is about 1 cm thick.  Brush with melted butter.  Pour the remaining melted butter into the bowl with the sugar, chocolate, and cinnamon, and stir to combine.  Spread the filling across the large rectangle.  This is a lot of filling, so feel free to use less.  Roll the rectangle on the long-side into a tight spiral such that you have a long, cinnamon-roll like log.  Crimp the ends of the log together and then cut the log lengthwise (see original recipe for photos).  In my version, there is a ton of filling, so I pinched together the gaping sides every half every inch or so in order to more easily twist my dough together.  Twist dough together and connect the ends together to form a circle.  ***You may want to decrease the filling amount if you're worried about struggling with rolling it.  I imagine you can also do two thinner rectangles, roll each up, and then twist them together and then into a circle without cutting either in half such that the filling is exposed.  I haven't tried this, but I will next time.***

Bake at 400 degrees F for 5 minutes.  Reduce temperature to 350 degrees F and bake for an additional 25 minutes or so, until the bready part is a golden brown color.  You can also use a metal spatula to lift the bottom and see if it is slightly golden brown to check if it is done.

Combine the milk and powdered sugar, adjusting the ratio of the two until you reach a desirably thick-enough-but-not-too-thick consistency.  Add in the vanilla extract.  Divide between three bowls and color with the gel food dye.  Drizzle over the top of the cake in whatever pattern you see fit.

Dough adapted from here, filling from here, and frosting from here.

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