16 February 2011

Experiments in King Cake: Take 2

Take 2: Bossman's family secret recipe. Well, actually, it's not that secret, but they're krewe members, and the recipe dates to 1901, so it's pretty authentic. (Since they are also long-time Garden District residents, I'm guessing maybe Rex or Comus.)

Did I mention the recipe is old? It's also hilariously vague. 

Problem #1: the recipe provides no clue whatsoever about how much liquid to use. Well, OK, not no clue. I quote: "Make a dough that is neither too stiff or too soft."


Fortunately, Bossman had shared a key piece of information: it's "brioche-like."

Brioche! I can work with that! To the cookbooks, Batman!

A little investigation revealed that brioche recipes generally call for about a cup of liquid per 8 oz. (by weight) of flour. Of course, I'm also going to be adding between 6 and 12 eggs (yes, the recipe really says 6-12, which is not s subtle difference), so I need to account for that. And...

Problem #2: the 1 cup of sugar/6-12 eggs/1 lb. of butter combo doesn't get added to the dough until after the first rising. It occurred to me that if the dough were actually a dough at that point, there would be little chance that would happen successfully. Hence: make something that's more of a batter, at least in round 1.

So I mixed up 1 1/2 lb. of flour, 1/2 oz. yeast dissolved in a little water, 1 1/2 c. tepid water, and 1 1/2 c. room temperature milk (no, I did not scald it first). And by "mixed" I mean "with a spoon" because there was no kneading the resulting very soft dough. Well, batter.

Problem #3: the recipe calls for an initial rise of 6 hours to double in size. Fortunately, I realized that that was EXTREMELY unlikely, and checked back in about 2, by which point my batter was a-bubblin'.

On to beating together the 6 eggs, the cup of sugar, and the pound of butter. I let the Kitchen Aid do the work there, and thank goodness I did, because the butter wasn't quite as softened as I thought - the centers of the sticks were still just this side of frozen. Oops. So then I combined the egg/sugar/butter mixture, my bubbly dough, and the last 1/2 pound of flour and 1/2 oz. of salt.

Problem #4: at this point, I really needed to knead this, and there was just no way - the dough was WAY too soft.
Me: kneadkneadknead

"Chef Spouse, can you add some more flour?"


15 seconds later: "Can you add some more flour?"


40 seconds later: "I need more flour."


23 seconds later: "More flour over here!"


30 seconds later: "NEED. FLOUR."

You get the picture.

We're now switching from weight to volume, because I was eye-balling quantities (there's a scary phrase in baking), but if I had to guess, I'd say I added between 1-2 additional cups of flour.

On to the next (1 hour) rise.

Then it was time to form the cake.

Problem #5: brioche, when formed, really needs something to be formed IN. Like a pan. No such luck here. I had a cookie sheet - I did my best to form a ring on said cookie sheet.

Another 1 hour rise.

Then bake at 350.

Problem #6: the recipe says to bake a 350 for AN HOUR AND A HALF. Um, no. Spotted that one in time, too, and set the initial bake time for 30 minutes.

Julia says that baguettes need to reach an internal temperature of 200 degrees, and I figured that what's good for the baguette is probably good for the brioche. It reached 200 degrees internally in about 40 minutes.

I also tried something different with the icing that I won't bother to recount, because it was distinctly unsatisfying. It turned out more like a glaze, which tastes fine, but it doesn't hold the colored sugar, thus messing with the whole purple, green, and gold thing. Not kosher.

I thought the last King Cake was Godzilla? I guess that means this was one Mothra, because it was GIANT. Seriously. We ate some Sunday night, I took 2 big pieces into the office Monday, I took 2 more big pieces to friends we had dinner with Monday night, I've been eating it every morning this week for breakfast, and there's still a big hunk left. I probably shouldn't have been surprised - after all, the recipe required 2+ pounds of flour. That gonna big a BIG cake.

So how did it taste?

Divine. Seriously, seriously, seriously amazingly awesome.

Bossman actually asked me today if I had any more. I quote: "I haven't had King Cake in years. You nailed my family recipe. And now I'm craving it."

Conclusion: I have definitely found the right recipe, but the technique needs a little work. You guessed it - this weekend will see ANOTHER King Cake, using the cake recipe from round 2, the icing recipe (minus the lemon) from round 1, and this great idea I have using a springform pan...

1 comment:

shoegal said...

If you need someone to pawn some off on, you can always bring me a piece on Tuesday night...(hint, hint)