Mardi Gras Pecan Twist King Cake

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I’ve never been to New Orleans, or Louisiana, for that matter, but it’s still fun to share in the holidays that my family doesn’t feel a connection to with great food. For Mardi Gras this year, I planned to make the Fat Tuesday Spicy Sausage Tomato Bisque that was the subject of my last post, but this morning I thought it would be fun to add a king cake to our menu. I got the yeast going before I was sure that I even had colored sugars to use to decorate the cake. As it turns out, I did not. Within a few minutes, however, I had the sugars food colored to green and purple to go with the gold that I had left in the pantry from another project. Who knows how old that bottle was? It was most likely left from making one of the boys’ birthday cakes. But sugar is sugar and has an unending shelf life.

A king cake is made from a similar dough as a brioche. So is a German stollen, so I adapted and cut down my stollen recipe for the king cake, adding pecan filling for interest. We didn’t have a plastic or porcelain baby to bake into it, as is customary for a Mardi Gras king cake, but I read that in other cultures coins or pecans could be hidden inside. I decided that, since a pecan shell or hard coin would be unpleasant to bite into, I would use two shelled pecan halves stacked together as our king cake “prize”. I don’t know what it means for the person who finds it in their piece of cake, I’ve had all day to decide but am out of ideas, so I guess they will just get a pecan in their cake.

My recipe doesn’t make a very big cake, maybe 8″, so wouldn’t feed a real Mardi Gras crowd unless doubled or tripled, but makes the perfect size for my little family.

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Ingredients:

Dough:

1/4 c. granulated sugar

3/4 c. milk

1/4 c. butter

1/2 tsp. pink Himalayan salt

1 envelope yeast

3 to 4 c. all-purpose flour + more for rolling the dough

1 large egg

Filling:

1 c. coarsely chopped pecans

2 T all-purpose flour

2 T granulated sugar

1/2 tsp. cinnamon

1/4 tsp. pink Himalayan salt

1/4 c. butter

Glaze:

1 c. confectioner’s sugar

Water

Colored sugars in green, purple, and gold

Method:

To make the dough, combine the milk, butter, sugar, and salt in a small saucepan. Heat just until the butter melts.

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Sift together the yeast and 3 c. flour.

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Mix together the milk mixture and the flour and yeast. Beat well to combine.

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Work in the egg.

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Stir in enough of the remaining 1 c. flour as possible before turning the dough onto a floured surface to knead in the rest.

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Knead 8 to 10 minutes, until dough is smooth and elastic.

Place in a warm place to rise until doubled, covered.

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Combine the filling ingredients, all but the butter which will be spread across the dough.

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When the dough has risen, divide into two pieces.

Roll each piece into a rectangular shape.

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Spread butter onto each, then sprinkle with the pecan filling.

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Place the object that is to be hidden.

Roll each sheet up on a lightly floured surface and pinch the edges together to seal, making two logs. *

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Lay the logs side by side and begin twisting them together.

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Bring the ends around together in a circle to seal, making a ring.

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Place on a greased sheet pan.

Allow it to rise, covered, until doubled in size.

Heat oven to 350.

Bake app. 25 minutes, until golden brown.

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Cool completely.

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Make the glaze by adding enough water to the confectioner’s sugar to make it thick but runny.

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Drizzle glaze over the cooled cake.

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Sprinkle on the colored sugars.

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Serve.

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Yield: 8 to 12 servings

*There was a little goof with this recipe. I ran out of an ingredient and had to substitute another at the last minute. If you can spot the very obvious substitute that didn’t affect the outcome of the cake, but changed its appearance, let me know in a comment.

 

 

 

 

 

Spiced Apple Cake

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You wouldn’t believe how much cinnamon I have already used this fall.  I’ve had to restock my dried ginger, as well.  And with  Thanksgiving and Christmas on the way, my stash will continue to dwindle.

I’ve been making these little cakes in reusable decorative autumn bakeware.  They also make fabulous bread puddings in the same dishes.  I’ll post that recipe another day.

The batter is a nice & easy sift, mix, fold version that can quickly be spooned into a bundt or loaf pan and baked while coffee brews or cider…mulls.

I have used white flour when serving them to others, but for my family I swap the white for whole wheat and turbinado for the not so healthy sugars before spooning the batter into muffin papers.   Olive oil is included in most of my baking these days.  For something spiced up and sugary like this cake, it adds a nice richness with no bitter flavor, and some serious moisture.

Ingredients:

2. all-purpose flour

1 tsp. cream of tartar

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. pink Himalayan salt

1 tsp. ground cinnamon

1/4 tsp. ground cloves

1/4 tsp. ground ginger

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1 c. applesauce

1 c. packed light brown sugar

1 c. white granulated sugar

1/2 c. extra virgin olive oil

2 whole eggs

Method:

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

Line baking dishes with parchment paper.   This recipe makes around 12 muffins, or a loaf pan of cake.

Sift together the first 7 ingredients.

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Fold the wet ingredients into the dry.  Spoon into baking dishes.

Beat together the sugars, applesauce, vanilla, oil, and eggs.

Bake for approximately 35 minutes, or until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean.

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Pumpkin Spice Scones

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Happy Halloween ’13!  Today I’m posting one of my new favorite ways to use roasted pumpkin.  If it’s very, very cold in your area tonight, you can run out and snatch your Jack o’ Lantern off the porch once all the trick-or-treaters have gone home and salvage it for roasting and baking.

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Just clean it out well, scrape and dispose of the layer that was exposed to the night air, if you like, and plop it in a baking pan. I cut mine in half and turn the pieces cut side down.  After about 45 minutes in a 350 degree oven, Jack will be ready for pureeing and freezing.

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I freeze mine in 16 oz. containers because I use a pie recipe that calls for 2 cups of pumpkin puree per deep dish pie.

For the scones, you will only need a cup of pumpkin.

Ingredients:

3 c. all-purpose flour

1/4 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1/4 tsp. baking powder

1 c. sugar + 2 T for the topping

1/2 tsp. cinnamon + 3/4 tsp. for the topping

1/2 c. butter

1 c. pumpkin puree

Method:

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

Sift together the dry ingredients.

Work in the butter with your fingers until it is well combined with the flour mixture.

Just until the dough comes together, mix in the pumpkin.

Press onto a parchment lined baking sheet in any shape you like.  A rectangle or square makes scoring into triangles easy.  But cookie cutters could also be used.

Cut the dough into shapes.

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Mix together the cinnamon and sugar to make the topping.

Sprinkle the entire surface of the dough with the cinnamon sugar.

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Bake for 30 minutes.  Follow your scored lines to cut out the scones.  Cool them on wire racks.  Package in airtight containers.

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