You start by activating your "active dry yeast" 4 and 1/2 tsp (two packets) in a 1/2 cup warm water and 2 tsp granulated sugar. This is simple enough, make sure your water is merely warm and not hot since too hot would kill the little organisms. Leave it on the counter for 10 to 15 minutes.
Where I went wrong #1, it was cold in the house to wear a jacket and I was making a yeast bread.
|Time Elapsed: 5 minutes|
|Time Elapsed: 10 minutes|
|Time Elapsed: 25 minutes|
Where I went wrong #2, I didn't double check that I had everything before I began. I had to leave to get an orange and a lemon after the yeast had been rising for 10 minutes. The yeast rose on the counter for 25 minutes and almost over-ran the bowl.
Dump your yeast mix into a big bowl for your electric mixer, hand or stand. Add 4 cups AP flour, 2 tsp salt, 1 tsp ground nutmeg, 1 tbsp cinnamon, 1 tsp vanilla extract, half the zest of 1 lemon and 1 orange, 1/2 cup warm milk, 1/2 melted butter, 1/2 cup granulated sugar, 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar, and 5 egg yolks.
Where I went wrong #3 & 4, I used the whole egg, not the yolk, making for a really wet dough. I accidentally used Pancake mix instead of AP flour. *facepalm* We had a bunch of pancake mix in a couple of boxes, so we put them in one of the clear plastic jars and put it on the pantry shelf with no label. From here on, it became a game of "how do we fix this?"
Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead until smooth. Incorporate flour until the dough is no longer sticky. Transfer the dough to a well greased bowl (that can allow for the dough to double in size) and cover with a warm damp cloth. Let rest for an hour and a half.
Where I went right #1, the dough was REALLY sticky, down right runny, but I was informed that I was not using flour and corrected that. (I realize now that I rolled out the beignets in pancake mix as well.) I tasted the dough at this point and it was very bitter, so I added 1 cup granulated sugar and 1/2 cup brown sugar to the 2 cups of AP flour that I used to roll the dough out onto. It was still very soft and tried to spread apart, but it wasn't sticky on the outside anymore.
Return the dough to your floured surface and punch it down. Roll into a log then transfer to a greased cookie sheet. Shape the log into a ring, and pinch the ends together. You can use a cleaned, greased, metal coffee/tomato can to keep the shape by placing it in the middle of your ring. Cover with a warm, damp cloth for 40-45 minutes.
Where I went right #2, I tasted the dough again to see if it was better. It was, but it still was more orange and lemon flavored than cinnamon, so I made a cinnamon sugar and covered the top of the ring before baking. I used 1 cup packed light brown sugar, 1/2 cup granulated sugar, a couple drops of vanilla extract, 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg, and 1 tbsp ground cinnamon.
|This is where I pushed in the pecan and pinched the dough around it so you can't see it once baked.|
*This is where you'd put in a King Cake Baby... I think they're creepy as hell, so I put a halved pecan instead. Preheat oven to 350 degrees, bake for 30 minutes, or until toothpick inserted into the thickest part comes out clean. Let cool to room temperature before glazing. To make the glaze, combine 2 cups confectioner's sugar with 3 tbsp water and 1 tbsp lemon juice.
To make colored sugar for decorating, add drops of food coloring to bowls of granulated sugar. It took about 3-5 drops of color for me to get the desired color in 1/2 cups worth of sugar.
I ended up with a tasty, but dense cake. So, I don't think I can call it King Cake. But, hey, it's got Mardi Gras colors, so, drink enough and it WILL be King Cake!