I’m sharing my spin on King Cake. My version is delicious and fluffy, made with one of my favorite items to bake with: orange zest. Cranberry glaze is folded into the dough, taking this tradition over the top!
If you’d like to order one that we’ll be hand made and offered at MiaBella, please pre-order via our website: www.milissweetstogo.com or via this link: http://www.milissweetstogo.com/store/p123/King_Cake_for_Fat_Tuesday_.html
My kids and I have loved making this traditional sweet bread together for the last few years. This time, I’m sharing my recipe and a couple different ways to prepare this delightful treat, including the use of a Bundt pan, which is now my favorite method.
Families all over the world enjoy King Cake to either celebrate the Epiphany, (when the three kings visited baby Jesus, on January 6) or the day before Lent begins. (Lent is the 40 days of sacrifice before Easter Sunday.) Either way, there should be a toy baby (symbolizing baby Jesus) found inside the cake. All of this fun started in 12th century France. Today you’ll find the cakes typically decorated with sprinklings of yellow, purple and green. This year, I went GOLD for our pre-Lent celebration.
This is a super easy recipe. You just need to have some time on your hands. Set aside 4 hours for rising and bake time. Trust me. Like most wonderful things in your life, it’s worth the extra love and time. I hope you’ll try to make this once. You’ll love it so much that I’m sure you’ll want to make it every year from now on! Let’s do this. . .
Mili’s Sweets Orange-Cranberry King Cake Recipe
Here’s what you’ll need for the dough:
In a large bowl: 2 cups all purpose flour
in a small bowl: 2 cups all purpose flour with 1 teaspoon iodized salt
1 packet or 2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup fat free milk
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
3 extra large eggs (at room temperature – you can run them under warm water)
2 sticks (1 cup) salted butter, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
zest of one large orange
1 egg white (for the wash before baking)
Here’s what you’ll need for the cranberry glaze, to fold inside the dough:
1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice (from the orange zested for the dough)
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup powdered sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
extra tools: plastic pastry scraper, metal pastry cutter, Bundt pan, saucepan, cookie sheet, offset spatula
Here’s what you’ll do:
Start by scalding the milk. Put the 1/2 cup of fat free milk and 1/2 cup of heavy whipping cream in a saucepan and heat until you see small bubbles forming on the edge. Remove from heat.
While the milk cools, prepare to activate the dry yeast. In a cup, warm 1/4 cup of water in the microwave for 10 seconds. Add the contents of the packet and and stir to dissolve. Allow to active. In 10 minutes, both the yeast and the milk will be ready, so that you can begin preparing the dough.
Next, in a standing mixer, with a paddle attachment, beat the butter until it covers the bottom of the bowl. Add the 1/2 cup of granulated sugar and then the eggs, one at a time. Beat it for about 20 seconds. The end result will look like super-fluffy scrambled eggs.
Now you’re ready to put the pieces of the dough together. In the large bowl you’ve prepared with the 2 cups of flour, make a well in the center. Add the mixture of activated yeast, then the warm milk. Mix together with your hands or a plastic pastry scraper. Once incorporated, add the butter-sugar-egg mixture and completely combine.
Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place it in a cold oven for an hour and a half.
Here’s what the process looks like:
The next step is to add the 2 cups of flour and 1 teaspoon of salt that you have already set aside in a small bowl. Mix this in with the use of your pastry scraper. Then add the zest of one large orange.
Once the orange zest is incorporated, cover the bowl with a cloth. Return it to your cold oven and allow it to rise for an additional hour.
While your dough is enjoying it’s second-rise, prepare the cranberry glaze that will be folded in before it’s baked.
Here’s how to make the cranberry glaze:
Squeeze out all of the juice from the large orange you used to flavor the dough. It should give you about 1/2 cup. If you don’t have 1/2 cup of juice, make up the difference with either more orange juice or water.
In a saucepan, over medium heat, stir juice, 3/4 cup brown sugar, 1/2 cup powdered sugar and 1 teaspoon cinnamon. Once smooth, with the sugars dissolved, add the 1/2 cup dried cranberries and pure vanilla extract. Stir and remove from heat.
The glaze will be cooled and ready to use, once your dough is ready.
This recipe will make two King Cakes. (One to share and one to keep. Or two to share. xox) When the dough is ready, use a pastry cutter to divide it.
I’m sharing two different ways to prepare to bake the dough. There’s the typical way, with a cookie sheet and then there’s a method I tried for the first time, using a Bundt pan. (Made sense to me!) Turns out using the Bundt is my favorite way to prepare this cake.
For the Bundt pan method: Spray and flour the pan so that it is prepared for the dough.
For the typical method: Place parchment paper or a silpat mat over the cookie sheet/pan.
Place 1/2 of the dough on a clean, flat surface, dusted with a liberal amount of flour.
Assemble the piece of dough together and lay flat.
Spoon the cranberry glaze over the dough. Then, fold it over once. Gently twist and lengthen the dough so that you can form a circle.
* Please note that the dough should be handled as little as possible and there is no need to kneed.
Place the twisted dough in either the Bundt pan or at the center of the prepared cookie sheet.
Sprinkle it with a light dusting of flour at the top and sides. Believe it or not, it’s going to rise again!
Cover with a cloth, and return it to your cold oven for one additional, and final hour.
Here’s a peek at the process when using a Bundt pan:
When the dough is in the “after rise” stage, you can finally turn your oven on!
(This is one of the reasons why patience is a virtue.)
Preheat your oven to 325 degrees.
This is the time I put the in the baby! When I make the cake for my family, there are at least 3 babies, but typically you’ll place just one plastic toy in the cake. I like to do my teeth a favor, and I place the baby at the very bottom of my baking-pan, so that I can spot the bottom when I eat my slice. This is best, since digging around in your cake doesn’t seem like the proper thing to do.
Prepare an egg wash, by whisking an egg white. Brush it onto the top of the dough.
Bake for 30-35 minutes.
Here’s the process when using the cookie sheet method:
You can see from the examples, that you’ll have a bigger cake with the cookie sheet method. It will both rise and spread. I prefer it to rise rather than spread, to have a more controlled size. (Yes. I have issues.) However, moving the cake from the cookie sheet is a lot easier. You’ll have to allow the cake to completely cool, and use an offset spatula to loosen all of the edges, to remove the cake from the Bundt pan. Then, place a plate under it, hold the two together and turn it upside down to remove.
Once the cake is cooled, you’ll want to ice it. You can make royal icing or do what I do, by making a batch of vanilla butter cream frosting and melting it a bit in the microwave. I use a plastic sandwich bag as my piping bag, cut a corner for my “tip,” and coat the top in a back and forth motion. This is the moment you’ll want to have your sprinkles on-hand.
This is such a special treat and I’m glad it’s part of our family’s pre-Lent tradition.