King Cake

King Cake
My First Homemade King Cake
For the past two years, I have bought paczki and King Cake at West Seattle’s Bakery Nouveau. This is quite a hike for me, coming from the other side of the city. This year I’ve been on a baking binge, and I figured I’d try my hand at making King Cake. Bakery Nouveau described this year’s King Cake on their blog as “made of laminated brioche dough” then, “rolled up with pureed Tatin style apple…cinnamon and sugar, and a sprinkling of raisins.” And finally, they “finish the cake New Orleans style, with a little bit of glaze and tri-color sugar.”

I would like to state for the record that I have never made brioche (though I have made Pulla). I have never laminated anything, let alone dough, nor have I made Tatin style apples. I have made cinnamon rolls, though, so, how hard could it be?

Sit back, and ready yourself for two days worth of work, and a lot of research. That’s what this took me.

I’m not going to give you the recipe, as that this is one of those triumphs that was cobbled from so many sources, and my own brain, that I couldn’t hope to write them all down. I will, however, point you to my resources.

1. Brioche – this part is easy, as that there is a wonderful source available, and that is the invaluable book Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day: The Discovery That Revolutionizes Home Baking. The brioche recipe I used came straight from this book. Other parts I used for guidance were the recipes for cinnamon rolls and such that can be made with enriched breads. This was the most carefree part of the entire endeavor, and this book is a must for anyone who likes fresh bread, but thinks it takes too long to make. I used half the recipe to make one King Cake.

2. LAMINATE. LAMINATE. LAMINATE. – What is laminated brioche? Think like croissants, but breadier. THe happy, buttery layers of bread come by means of laminating! What does this mean? You take a mixture of butter and flour and make it into a sheet, chill it, and then fold dough around it, kind of like the picture in an old ID badge, where the paper is the butter, and the dough is the plastic. I used a few resources to figure out how to do this, but the main one I used was here. Trust me, this is a part where the more research you do, the better.

3.Tatin apples? WTF? – First, thanks Mark Bittman, and How to Cook Everything. The iPhone/iPad How to Cook Everything app found the recipe for sautéed apples, which is what Bittman suggests for a crust-free tatin flavor. Basically, it’s like apple sauce made with extra sugar, and butter instead of apple cider/juice. Thanks to Bittman, something that could have been hard, was easy. I used one recipe of this, and pureed it.

4. Making the crown, and making it pretty – If I had to do it over again, I would have rolled out the length of my dough as a long rectangle on a Silpat first and then placed it in something like this Thunder Group 18 Inch x 26 Inch Full Size Aluminum Sheet Pan. I spread the puree in one layer from edge to edge, sprinkled on the raisins, and would have, had I not forgotten, added cinnamon/sugar sprinkle on top of the apple puree. Finally I rolled it up so it was a long cylinder, much like you would for cinnamon rolls. Before putting the ends together, I recommend cutting the ends off of the cylinder first, then joining them together to make the crown. Finally, I used Google to get the inspiration for making it pretty.

Laminated Brioche Detail
Buttery Layers
I baked the bread for around 35-40 minutes at 325°F on convection. If you don’t have a convection oven, you might want to try 350°F, and rotating the pan midway to get it evenly brown. I hid the baby Jesus in the cake AFTER baking, by stuffing it in one of the folds.

The cake came out looking buttery and delicious. I let it cool, and finished it off with a simple milk, vanilla extract, and powdered sugar icing drizzled over it, and an abundance of traditional colored sprinkles in purple, yellow and green.

I will be trying this again next year, without a doubt. Though I haven’t tasted this year’s cake (it went straight to my husband’s work), I heard it was delicious.

Vegan Cardamom Vanilla Ice Cream (Ice Cream Experiment #2)

vegan cardamom ice creamI found this cardamom ice cream recipe yesterday, longing to use some cardamom in something sweet and delicious. Since my family is lactose intolerant, I usually search for vegan dessert recipes. It was easy to adapt this one, though completely experimental. I used my KitchenAid Artisan Series 5-Quart Mixer and the Ice Cream Maker Attachment. Having the ice cream maker attachment in my freezer means that instead of buying ice cream, I can make my own. Also, the effort to reward is HUGE, and keeps me from having a steady supply of superfluous calories at hand. Speaking of calories, I may use less sugar next time, and cut the sugar down to 1/4 or 1/3 cup.

Vegan Cardamom Vanilla Ice Cream

1 (13.5 oz) can coconut milk (full fat)
1.5 oz almond milk
8 cardamom pods, crushed
1 vanilla bean pod, slit open
1/2 cup sugar
1/8 tsp ground cardamom
1/8 tsp kosher salt

In a saucepan, combine the crushed cardamom pods and slit vanilla bean with the milks, and heat until boiling, stirring occasionally, and then let sit off of the heat for 20 minutes.

Strain the pods and the vanilla bean from the milk. Scrape the vanilla specks out of the vanilla bean and into the milk, and add the sugar, kosher salt, and ground cardamom. Let cool for at least 30 minutes in the fridge.

Use the instructions for your ice cream maker for the rest.

Enjoy, and let me know if you try it!

Next Experiment: Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream (made with Coconut Milk, and Vegan!)

We’re fans of Luna and Larry’s Coconut Bliss Mint Galactica. Since I have a KitchenAid Artisan Series 5-Quart Mixer, White and got the Ice Cream Maker Attachment. I cobbled together a couple of recipes to create a lactose-free, vegan, (and made with ingredients in my cabinet).

It’s simple. You just need to make sure your ice cream maker is ready to go according to the instructions it came with. For mine, I needed to make sure my bowl was frozen for at least 15 hours. You’ll be relying on the instructions for your ice cream maker for everything but the combination of ingredients.

icecreamMint Chocolate Chip Coconut Ice Cream

1 (13.5 oz) can Coconut milk (full fat)
1.5 oz Almond milk
1 tsp Peppermint flavoring
1 tsp Vanilla extract
1/4 cup sugar
1/4-1/2 cup chocolate chips (mini-chips preferrable, or chop up chips into smaller bits)

Combine all the ingredients except for the chocolate chips. Use the instructions for your ice cream maker to guide when you add the chips.

Simple! Delicious! Enjoy!

More Cardamom Madness (It’s How I Roll)

OK, this is going to be a sloppy post. Forgive my underslept ramblings, but I thought it was really important to let you know that cardamom cinnamon rolls with aquavit soaked raisins and almond icing is a thing, and I made them this week.A_vUlDKCcAAmSiO

See? Evidence! (Which was all consumed by my husband’s coworkers.)

I used the pulla bread dough (refrigerated) that I made in the previous post (and I seriously promise to give a proper write up later!) The short form of it is that I put about 1/2 cup raisins in a dish and covered it with aquavit and let it set for at least 8 hours. Then later, I rolled out 1 lb of the dough about 1/8-/14 in thick, in a squarish/rectanglish shape, and spread a mixture of 1/2 cup softened sweet cream butter, 1 tsp cinnamon, and 1/4 cup sugar over the entire thing (the cookbooks tell me to chill the dough if it’s too soft). Next, I drained the raisins and sprinkled them evenly over the dough, and rolled up the dough from one end to the other (short end to short end.) Finally, I cut 8 even rolls from the tube, then arrange in a springform pan, evenly spaced, and let rise for 2 hours.cinnamonrollunbaked

I heated the oven to 350°F, and baked the rolls for about 45 minutes, until nice and brown.

Finally, I filled a bowl with about a cup of powdered sugar, slowly added milk until it became a slightly runny paste, added about a teaspoon of almond extract, and once mixed, poured it over the rolls. I added sliced almonds as a garnish.

OK, that’s it for now, people. It’s time for a nap!

Experiments in Bread Baking – Pulla (Finnish Cardamom Bread)

My husband gave me the amazing Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day: The Discovery That Revolutionizes Home Baking. I’ve already made three batches of dough using the recipe. He was inspired to get the book for me after I made a few batches of Jim Lahey’s No-Knead Bread (also found in How to Cook Everything).

It doesn’t take much for me to want to play with a recipe. It was dumb luck that my efforts turned out tasty, let alone, edible to others. I knew I really wanted to make pulla, AKA cardamom bread. I knew that challah shared a lot of commonality with pulla, so I started with the challah recipe in Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day. Below is how I did it.

unbakedpullaIngredients:

1 3/4 cups lukewarm milk
1/4 cup lukewarm water
1 1/2 Tbsp active dry yeast
1 1/2 Tbsp salt Kosher salt
1 1/2 tsp ground cardamom
4 large eggs lightly beaten
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
7 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
Egg wash (1 egg beaten with 1 Tbsp water)
Large crystal sugar (optional)

Steps:

1. Mix the yeast, salt, eggs, sugar, cardamom, melted butter and milk in a 5 quart sealable container, or large bowl that can be easily covered (not air tight).

2. Mix in flour using a wooden spoon, do not knead! You can use a heavy duty stand mixer with a dough hook, but with some patience and a spoon, I did just fine.

3. Cover (do not seal) and let it rest for 2 hours, letting it rise and collapse (or at least flatten on top.)

4. You can use immediately, though some may recommend refrigerating and using cold. You can refrigerate the dough and use within the next 5 days, or freeze in 1 lb portions for up to 4 weeks. Defrost overnight in the refrigerator before using and allow the usual rest and rise time.

5. The day of baking, butter or grease a cookie sheet, or line with parchment paper or silicone mat. Dust the surface of the dough, reach in and cut off a 1 lb (grapefruit sized) piece. Dust with flour and shape into a ball. Cut the ball into thirds, and start braiding from the center to each of the ends, and tuck the ends under the loaf.

6. You can bake at least two one lb loves on a cookie sheet, which is what I did. Let the bread rest for 40 minutes if you’re using fresh dough, or 1 hour and 20 minutes if you’re using refrigerated dough.pulla

7. Preheat the oven to 350°F twenty minutes before the end of the rising time. For instance, I set a timer for 20 minutes when I start the dough resting with fresh dough. Brush the loaf with an egg wash and sprinkle with sugar as desired. I do not prefer sugar, so I didn’t use any on my loaves.

8. Bake the loaves in the center of the oven for about 25 minutes. The loaves should be golden brown, and should have resistance when pressed in the center. The crust should be smooth and shiny.

9. Wait until they’re cool to slice, though admittedly, it’s hard to not dive right in with a knife.