Cooks Exchange

It’s king cake season. Try these recipes to make your own.

Twelfth Night may end the Christmas season, but another party season is just beginning.

On Jan. 6, Carnival season got underway. Some krewes or families celebrate with festive traditional dinners and, of course, king cake.

On Twelfth Night or Epiphany, the 1923 “Dennison’s Christmas Book” says, “There should be a King and a Queen, chosen by cutting a cake. The Twelfth Night Cake has a bean and a pea baked into it. The man who finds the bean in his slice of cake becomes king for the night while the lady who finds a pea in her slice of cake becomes queen for the night.”

Today, Mardi Gras krewes choose their kings and queens, but now the person who gets the bean or the plastic baby in the king cake must buy the next one.

Now that the countdown is on for Fat Tuesday, Feb. 28, just look at the stacks of king cakes in any Coast supermarket, bakery or convenience store.

“Every year you used to publish two king cake recipes: One from scratch and the other using crescent rolls,” said a reader who asked “no name, please.”

“Last year you published different recipes. Could you print the ‘original’ two recipes again? I’ve lost my copy,” she said. “Also, could you print them early in Carnival season instead of at the end?”

Now that it is nearly a week into the Carnival season, here are some of my older king cake or Twelfth Night cake recipes. These are from February 1999. Three are made with a yeast dough while two of them are made with crescent rolls. One of the crescent roll cakes is made lower in sugar.

The Twelfth Night cake recipe divides the dough into six pieces for six individual cakes. This is a great project for your children or grandchildren to make their own king cakes and to decorate them however they choose.

Icings on the king cakes vary from colored buttercream frosting to a confectionary glaze topped with purple, green and gold sugar to simple purple, green and gold candy or edible glitter sprinkles.

Perhaps the reader will let me know which ones she prefers.

Andrea Yeager can be reached at ayeager51@cableone.net and Cook's Exchange, P.O. Box 4567, Biloxi, MS 39535-4567.

KING CAKE

Makes two 1-pound pieces

2 tablespoons sugar

2 envelopes dry yeast

1/2 cup warm water

1 stick margarine

1/2 cup evaporated milk

1/2 cup sugar

2 teaspoons salt

4 eggs

6 cups flour

Combine sugar, yeast and water in bowl. Let stand until foaming. Place margarine, milk, sugar and salt in small pot and melt slowly. Beat eggs into foaming yeast, add milk mixture when lukewarm. Add flour a little at a time.

Knead 5 to 10 minutes; grease bowl with margarine. Place dough in bowl, turn dough over in bowl and then cover bowl with a damp cloth. Let rise until doubled (about 2 hours in a warm place). Roll out and begin filling process.

How to make:

1. Roll out a 1-pound piece of soft dough to about 18 inches long and 6 inches wide to make one small cake.

2. Spread pie filling or fig preserves and/or cream cheese filling lengthwise down the center of the dough. Place the plastic baby anywhere in the filling.

3. Fold dough in half and pinch the two long edges together. Then turn the cake so the seam is on the bottom.

4. Bring the two ends together to make a circle. Tuck one end inside the other, then tuck the exposed edges for a neat connection.

5. Set in a warm place to rise until doubled in bulk. This could take up to three hours.

6. Bake the cake in a 350-degree oven for about 10 to 20 minutes or until golden brown. A cake without filling will bake in about 15 minutes.

Tip to avoid overfilling: The sides should close easily once the filling is in. The dough should not be stretched and weakened. Once a filled cake is baked, it will flatten out. An unfilled cake will be puffy.

Allow cake to cook before icing.

ICING

1/2 stick margarine, melted

1 pound powdered sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup simple syrup

Stir mixture together. The simple syrup is made from 1/4 cup sugar and 1/4 cup water. Heat until sugar is dissolved.

For colored sugar sprinkles for top of cake, mix a cup of granulated sugar with three to four drops of food coloring with a mixer. If you mix yellow first, then green and then purple, you won’t have to clean the mixer each time.

QUICK KING CAKE

2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened

1/2 to 1 cup confectioners’ sugar, depending on sweetness desired

2 eggs, separated

1 teaspoon vanilla or almond extract

2 cans (8 ounces each) refrigerated crescent rolls

1/2 can pie filling, your choice

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Beat cream cheese, sugar, egg yolks and extract together until smooth. Remove rolls from cans and arrange pieces around cookie sheet with points toward the center. Push the dough together, leaving center open.

Spread cream cheese mixture on dough. Top with pie filling. Fold dough over mixture and seal. Brush with beaten egg whites. Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until golden brown. Drizzle with glaze and sprinkle with colored sugar.

DIABETIC VERSION

2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened (can use low-fat or fat-free)

1/2 to 1 cup powdered sugar replacement (recipe follows), depending on sweetness desired

2 eggs, separated

1 teaspoon vanilla or almond extract

2 cans (8 ounces each) refrigerated crescent rolls

1/2 jar low-sugar or no-sugar preserves (the Smucker’s apricot and strawberry ones are good)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Beat cream cheese, powdered sugar replacement, egg yolks and extract together until smooth. Remove rolls from cans and arrange pieces around cookie sheet with points toward the center. Push the dough together, leaving center open.

Spread cream cheese mixture on dough. Top with preserves. Fold dough over mixture and seal. Brush with beaten egg whites. Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until golden brown. Drizzle with glaze made of powdered sugar replacement and water. Color sugar substitute with food coloring and sprinkle over the cake.

POWDERED SUGAR REPLACEMENT

2 cups nonfat dry milk powder

2 cups cornstarch

1 cup granulated sugar replacement (Splenda works well, but could use Stevia)

Combine all ingredients in food processor or blender. Whip until well-blended and powdered. Transfer to airtight container. Yield: 4 cups replacement for use in making desserts.

Diabetic exchange: 1 bread or 1/2 nonfat milk and 1/2 bread. Calories for 1/4 cup: 81.

YEAST KING CAKE

1 package yeast

1/4 cup warm water

6 tablespoons milk, scalded, cooked

4 cups flour, divided

2 sticks butter

3/4 cup sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

4 eggs

Melted butter

Decorative sugar

Corn syrup

In a bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Add milk and enough flour, about 1/2 cup to make a soft dough. Set aside in warm place.

In another bowl, combine butter, sugar, salt and eggs with electric mixer.

By hand, add yeast starter and butter-egg mixture. Mix thoroughly. Gradually add 2 to 2 1/2 cups flour to make a medium dough that is neither too soft nor too stiff. Place dough in large lightly greased bowl and brush top of dough with melted butter. Cover bowl with damp cloth and allow to rise in warm place until doubled in bulk, about 3 hours.

Using remaining 1 cup of flour, knead dough and roll with hands into a rope. Place rope on a greased cookie sheet in an oval shape. Connect the ends by dampening them with water. Cover with damp cloth and allow to rise until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour, in warm place. A small plastic baby or bean may be placed in the cake if desired. Make sure to tell guests there is a baby in the cake. No choking, please. Bake in a 325-degree oven for 35 to 45 minutes or until lightly browned.

Decorate by brushing top of cooled cake with corn syrup and alternating 3-inch bands of purple, green and gold granulated sugar.

TWELFTH NIGHT CAKE

8 cups sifted white flour

6 eggs

1 cup sugar

1 pound butter, margarine or shortening

2 cups milk or water

1/2 ounce yeast

1 tablespoon salt

Crystallized cherries

Pinch of ginger (1/4 or 1/8 teaspoon)

Scald the 2 cups of milk, that is, heat to just below the boiling point and then allow to grow tepid. It can be refrigerated for about 5 to 10 minutes to speed up cooling.

Put 6 cups sifted flour into a large bowl. Make a hole in the center of the flour and put in the yeast which has been dissolved in about cup water to which the ginger has been added. Add the 2 cups milk or water. Milk gives richer dough.

Mix the flour with one hand with a wooden spoon while adding the milk or water slowly with the other hand.

With an electric mixer, cream the butter, sugar and eggs together. Add this mixture to the flour mixture and mix well. The dough will be soft.

Let the dough rise for 3-5 hours until double in bulk. To it, add the other 2 cups of flour to which the salt has been added. Knead the dough by turning it over on itself three times and set it to rise again, covered with cloth, for 45 minutes to 1 hour.

At the end of this time, punch down and work again very lightly and divide into 6 equal portions. Make each portion into a ring. Place on a cookie sheet that has been lightly greased or sprayed with aerosol oil. Hide dolls in the cakes. Cover them with a clean, stiff cloth and let rise one hour.

Glaze the dough lightly with a mixture of beaten egg white and 1 teaspoon water, using a pastry brush. Put 1/2 cup sugar in each of 3 jars and color with green, purple and yellow. Sprinkle the colored sugar on top of the cake, alternating the colors about every 2-3 inches. Place 1/2 crystalized cherry on 4 parts around the cake.

Bake in preheated 350-degree oven for 22-27 minutes. Yield: 6 one-pound cakes. If you want larger cakes, dough can be divided in half and only 2 cakes made. Bake larger cakes about 45 minutes to 1 hour.

Andrea Yeager

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