King cake is everywhere! It is carnival season and it’s in my office, my house, parties, tailgates, and restaurants. Everywhere I go someone is offering me king cake. And I Iove king cake. It’s so delicious. I love every kind, from Antoine’s amazing cinnamon roll like cake to Sucre’s buttery Danish cake folded with a light layer of creole cream cheese. It is so hard to pass up the cake.
Last year my roommates and I were king cake connoisseurs. We tried king cake from all the popular stores, including Antoine’s, Randazzo’s and Sucre. We went all out. This year I decided I decided I wanted to make my own king cake, and make it as healthy as I could. The result was a light and tasty cake rivaling the cake from the best stores.
The bread machine I used to make the dough. The dough can also be mixed by hand.
I substituted some of the ingredients based on what I had on hand and what the store had. I didn’t have dry milk powder so I used coconut powder (I didn’t notice a difference). I also used bread flour and whole wheat flour instead of all-purpose. Bread flour has more protein than all-purpose flour which produces a stronger rise. It is also great when paired with whole wheat flour.
I made sure the yeast was active by mixing it with ¼ cup of the milk and let it sit for 10 minutes. If the yeast doubles in size then it is alive.
Using a scale to measure the flour is much more accurate. I used a digital scale.
So what’s the deal with king cake? Read more here on the history of king cake on nola.com.
The cake came out good! The sweet potato kept it moist while also adding fiber and beta-carotene. I will say, this cake took a long time to make, but it was well worth the effort! Plus you can brag to all of your friends that you made a king cake, which sounds so impressive.
The cake was really moist when it was fresh, but a few days after it dried a little. I later found out that high-protein flour (bread flour) absorbs more liquid than medium-protein flour and you should add about 2 teaspoons extra liquid for each cup of flour when using bread flour. When testing the yeast you should add 4 teaspoons of water to take care of the extra liquid.
The store didn’t have purple sugar so I had to substitute with red.
The cake added the perfect dimension to my day. I love king cake and I loved sharing this with everyone, it was huge!
“Healthier” King Cake
Adapted from King Arthur Flour
1/2 cup (1 stick, 4 ounces) butter, melted
3/4 cup (6 ounces) lukewarm milk plus 4 teaspoons of water
2 large eggs + 1 large egg yolk, white reserved
2 cups bread flour (8 1/3 ounces)
1 1/2 cups whole-wheat flour (6 1/3 ounces )
1/4 cup (1 3/4 ounces) sugar
1/4 cup (1 1/4 ounces) Baker’s Special Dry Milk or non-fat dried milk powder
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
2 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast
1/2 cup mashed peeled sweet potatoes, cooked without salt or fat (about 1 large baked sweet potato)
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
½ cup melted butter
½ cup sugar or sugar substitute
1 tbsp cinnamon
King cake baby, pecan half or dried bean
3 cups (12 ounces) confectioners’ sugar
1 teaspoon of lemon juice
pinch of salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons + 1 to 2 teaspoons milk, enough to make a thick but pourable glaze
yellow, purple, and green fine sparkling sugars
Lightly grease a 10″, 4-cup capacity bakeable stoneware ring mold, or a baking sheet.
To prepare the dough: Using a stand mixer, electric hand mixer, or bread machine, mix and knead all of the dough ingredients together to form a smooth, very silky dough. You may try kneading this dough with your hands, if desired; but be advised it’s very sticky and soft. If the dough seems to wet or like batter, add one tablespoon of flour at a time to thicken. Allow the dough to rise, covered, for 1 hour. It’ll become puffy, though it probably won’t double in size. (Press two fingers into the dough. If indentation remains, the dough has risen enough.)
Transfer the soft dough to a lightly greased work surface. Pat and stretch it into a 18″ x 12″ rectangle. This won’t be hard at all; it’s very stretchy. Let the dough rest while you prepare the filling.
Brush top of dough with melted butter then sprinkle with mixture of sugar and cinnamon. Cut dough vertically into three even strips that will measure approximately 4″ x 18″. Fold each strip in half to make it 2″ wide.
Form into a basic three-strand braid then shape into a circle and pinch ends. Place the log of dough, seam down or to the side (just not on top) onto the baking sheet. The dough will be very extensible, i.e., it’ll stretch as you handle it. So pick it up and position it in the pan quickly and gently. Pinch the ends together. Place a well-greased 2-pound coffee can or shortening can in the center of the ring to maintain shape during baking. Press the King Cake Baby, pecan half or dried bean into the ring from the bottom so that it is completely hidden by the dough. Cover and let rise for about an hour, in a warm place until it’s puffy or the cake doubles in size.
Pre-heat the oven to 350°F while the dough rises.
Whisk the reserved egg white with 1 tablespoon water, and brush it over the risen loaf. Bake the cake for 20 minutes, then tent it lightly with aluminum foil. Bake it for an additional 20 minutes, until it’s a rich golden brown. Remove the cake from the oven, and after 5 minutes gently loosen its edges from the pan, if you’ve baked it in a ring mold. After an additional 10 minutes, turn it out of the pan onto a rack to cool (or transfer it from the baking sheet to a rack to cool).
To make the icing: Beat together all of the icing ingredients, dribbling in the final 2 teaspoons milk till the icing is thick yet pourable.
Pour the icing over the completely cooled cake. While it’s still sticky, sprinkle with alternating bands of yellow, purple, and green sugars.
Yield: One loaf, about 20 servings.
Nutrition Facts per serving: 270 calories, 9 grams fat, 55 grams cholesterol, 186 grams sodium, 41 grams carbohydrate, 2 grams fiber, 5.3 grams protein
The calories in this king cake are similar to a regular king cake, BUT it has 2 grams of belly filling fiber from the whole wheat flour and sweet potato. It’s a little less indulgent than your regular king cake and so tasty! If you are feeling creative or have the baking bug, you have to try this!