mardi gras king cake

king cake 1

We celebrated Shrove Tuesday with our Dutch Baby from Baked Occasions. Here in the U-S-of-A this day is called “Mardi Gras” – aka: Fat Tuesday and is celebrated by eating our faces off in preparation for Lent, or ya know, just because we can.

Down in Louisiana, and many other parts of the country, people celebrate with King Cake. Not to be confused with the French Galette de Rois, which celebrates a similar occasion but consists of almond-filled puff pastry.

Louisiana’s King Cake is generally filled with either cinnamon or cream cheese, then shaped into a ring or spiral, and topped with a simple glaze and colored sprinkles. Both cakes (the French and American versions) have a “feve” hidden within, whether in the form of a piece of fruit, nut, or a tiny figurine. I generally try to stay away from putting non-edible things in my food, though, because… nothing is safe when I’m in “eating” mode.

To call this a ‘cake’ is a bit of a misnomer, as it’s actually much more of a bread than a cake. What once began as a dry French bread filled with a sweet filling has since evolved into an enriched sweet dough, or even something akin to brioche in some areas. I adapted this recipe from King Arthur Flour, whose dough much more closely resembles one you might use for cinnamon rolls.

I struggled with what to use for filling, as they can vary from anything as simple as a cinnamon swirl to pastry cream or pie fillings. In the end, I ended up sticking with the more traditional cream cheese filling, with a nod to its French cousin, the galette de rois, by adding a bit of almond flavor. The result was absolutely divine.

This cake is best eaten the day its made. If you would like to make it in advance, I recommend freezing the cake once it cools and icing it after thawing. Roll more tightly than I did to avoid getting a bubble.

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king cake

Ingredients

    For the dough
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons (1 packet) instant yeast
  • 3/4 cup lukewarm milk
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 2 large eggs + 1 large egg yolk, white reserved
  • 3 1/2 cups All-Purpose Flour
  • 1/4 cup nonfat powdered milk
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • For the filling
  • 1 8-ounce package cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose Flour
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
  • For the icing
  • 2 cups confectioners' sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons + 1 to 2 teaspoons milk, enough to make a thick but pourable glaze

Instructions

    For the dough
  1. Combine warm milk, sugar, and yeast in the bowl of stand mixer. Let sit 5 minutes while yeeast blooms.
  2. In a small bowl, combine 3 cups of the flour (reserving 1/2 cup for later), powdered milk, nutmeg, and salt.
  3. Once the yeast mixture is foamy, add the eggs, melted butter, and flour mixture.
  4. Knead the ingredients with the dough hook until it forms a smooth, silky dough. Using your hands is not advised, as the dough can be very sticky and soft.
  5. Once the dough comes together, form it into a ball and cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Allow the dough to rise, covered, for 1 hour until it becomes puffy.
  6. Turn the dough out onto a lightly greased work surface and roll or stretch the dough into a 24" x 8" rectangle.
  7. Cove the dough with a clean kitchen towel and let it rest while you make the filling.
  8. For the filling:
  9. Quickly clean and dry the mixing bowl and beat together the cream cheese, sugar, and flour until smooth.
  10. Scrape down the bowl, add the extracts, and beat to combine.
  11. Pour the filling down the center of the long strip of dough. (If desired, select a nut, piece of chocolate, or dried fruit and press into the cream cheese to hide).
  12. Tightly fold the bottom half over the filling, then the top half, stretching to seal the edge. Gently lift (an extra set of hands is useful here) onto a parchment-lined half sheet pan and bend into a rough oval or circle shape, tucking one end into the other and pinching to seal.
  13. Cover the dough with your kitchen towel and let rise for about an hour, until slightly poofed. Preheat the oven to 350°F while the dough rises.
  14. Baking
  15. Whisk the reserved egg white with 1 tablespoon water, and brush it over the risen cake.
  16. Bake for 20 minutes, then tent it lightly with aluminum foil and continue baking for an additional 30 minutes until it's golden brown on the outside and baked through.
  17. Remove the cake from the oven and let cool on the baking sheet about 15 minutes. Then, transfer the cake to a rack to finish cooling.
  18. For the icing:
  19. Once the cake has completely cooled, make the icing.
  20. Put powdered sugar into a small bowl or 2-cup measuring cup.
  21. Add vanilla and 2 tablespoons of the milk, beating to combine. Add remaining teaspoons of milk, a half teaspoon at a time, until the icing is thick but pourable.
  22. Pour the icing over the completely cooled cake. While it's still sticky, sprinkle with alternating bands of yellow, purple, and green sugars.
http://wee-eats.com/2016/02/09/mardi-gras-king-cake/

Recipe adapted from King Arthur Flour

thursday things – owl cafes, new oreos, and a super bowl round up

thursday things

In case you were wondering, I’ve decided that it’s time to move to Japan. Apparently owl cafes are a thing there and I can’t possibly resist.

I learned last week that if you hollow out a Reeses cup, Oreo filling will fit perfectly into the hole… I would personally have had BOTH fillings, but that’s just me.

Speaking of Oreos, they’ve announced their newest flavor: “Filled Cupcake” (aka: Hostess Cupcake).

And Lays has announced their newest flavor competition, with flavors like Korean BBQ and Smoked Gouda & Chive.

You may remember me rambling about the majestic and elusive Quesalupa around this time last year, but somehow I completely forgot about them when I went home for Thanksgiving and missed my chance. Lucky for me, the Quesalupa is now poising itself for nation-wide domination, so I will finally have a chance to try the heart attack in a shell after all!cucpake oreo

All three of these babies (Oreos, Quesalupa, and Lays) are scheduled for a Feb 8th release date – soon to be most-self-loathing-filled day of my life (so far).

My only saving grace may be the fact that it’s impossible for me to find new flavors of things on their release dates. Phoenix seems to be a bit ‘behind the times’ in these areas, so I may be able to spread out my self-loathing as I eat my way through February’s new items.

In the meantime, Oreo released a new “Cinnamon Bun” flavor. It’s a cinnamon cookie with a “cinnamon bun flavored creme.” While the flavor wasn’t bad, I didn’t think it tasted like a cinnamon bun. It tasted more like Dunakroos (remember those?) or Teddy Grahams than anything else. So far on Oreo flavors, S’mores and Brownie Batter are still my two faves.

I also found out that not only is Phoenix getting THREE Shake Shacks this year, but that one of them will be SO CLOSE TO MY HOUSE I COULD DIE. I’m so excited my heart could explode.

In other news, I hear that “Super Bowl” thing is happening this weekend, so in case you still need recipe inspiration, here are some ideas!

Super Bowl Recipe Round Up

Baked, Occasionally – Kitchen Sink Dutch Baby

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2016 is a new year and a new collaboration with Shannon over at A Periodic Table. Last year, we spun our way through the Jeni’s books and this year we have something new in store. We will be baking our way through the Baked Occasions book month by month in our new series Baked, Occasionally. Each month we will select one recipe (the same recipe) from the book and bake it together word-for-word from the book. Then, we’ll compare our results and, if we see room for improvement, we’ll tweak the recipe and make it again until it’s just right!

This month’s recipe was the Kitchen Sink Dutch Baby.

Round 1 yielded tasty results, but we saw some room for improvement.

Pros: 

  • Very easy to make
  • Comes together quickly
  • Great for breakfast or dessert

Cons: 

  • Not much fluff
  • Not enough stuff
  • Flavor needs a boost

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Issue #1: WHERE’S THE FLUFF? 

My usual dutch baby recipe has lots of floof with peaks and valley and all sorts of poof. This one fell a bit, well, flat. I chalked this up to the fact that my pan was a bit larger than their recommended size (11.25″ vs the recommended 10″), but Shannon used a 10-inch skillet and still did not have the expected poof. That being said, even the pictures in their book were pretty flat.

We decided to try to remedy this by pouring the batter directly into a screaming-hot pan instead of letting the pan cool for 5 minutes. This corrected Shannon’s lack of floof but mine remained pretty flat. I think I would need an extra egg to reconcile the larger pan, and by the time we add an extra egg we need extra flour, etc, and we’d have a whole new recipe, which is not what we wanted here.

Issue #2: WHERE’S THE BEEF STUFF? 

Now, if I was naming this I probably would have called it a “banana dutch baby” because the term “kitchen sink” makes it sound like you throw in, ya know, “everything but the kitchen sink”. While you certainly could do this, their recipe calls for bananas, chocolate chips, and optional nuts. Nothing about this was very “kitchen sink-y” if you ask me, but nobody asked me.

However, Shannon and I both agreed that there should at least be enough banana to cover the majority of the bottom of the pan. We added one (or two) more bananas to fix this issue. Also, a “scant 1/4 cup” of chocolate chips isn’t basically how much I eat when I’m making a recipe that includes chocolate chips, so we we upped this from 1 1/2 ounces to easily 2 – 2.5 ounces. Think a very generous 1/4 cup scoop, maybe even closer to 1/3 cup.

Issue #3: Flavor enhancement.

While delicious, Shannon and I both had the feeling that it could use a little “oomph” – We resolved to throw a half teaspoon of cinnamon in for round two to take it a bit closer to that “banana bread” flavor, but not so much cinnamon that it would turn into a “cinnamon roll” type thing. We both loved the extra warmth it added to the dish.

Forever the tinkerers (and naturally heavy-handed with vanilla) we both really wanted to up the vanilla in this recipe. The batter on its own doesn’t have a whole lot going on and definitely benefited from the boost of an extra dash of vanilla.

Lastly, The recipe called for plain toasted nuts and I only had raw. Since I was going to have to give them a quick toast in the oven anyway, I let myself tinker a bit because plain nuts are boring and nobody likes boring nuts. Knowing they were heading for a breakfasty dutch baby, I added a healthy amount of maple syrup and nice dash of salt to them.

This caused issues only because it was hard to photograph the finished dish without eating all of the nuts… Oops? When I shared this modification with Shannon she jumped for joy and decided to make the same adjustment for round 2. You may want to make extras of these because they really are a delightful treat.

You can check out Shannon’s post right here!

Below you will find our round 2 recipe, which is the Baked recipe including our adjustments. If you’re interested in joining us for March, on the first Monday in March we will be posting the Chocolate Texas Sheet Cake with Peanut Butter Frosting. I hijacked this choice because March is my birthday month. And because chocolate and peanut butter. I mean, you know there’s no way we weren’t going to make that.

Feel free to bake along and share your results with us on our Instagram Accounts (hers & mine) or Facebook by tagging us!

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Baked Occasions Kitchen Sink Dutch Baby

Ingredients

    For the nuts
  • 2 cups assorted nuts (I used walnuts and pecans)
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil (melted) or other neutral oil
  • 2-3 tablespoons maple syrup (enough to coat the nuts)
  • 1 teaspoon sugar or brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, to taste
  • For the dutch baby
  • 3 Tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 to 3 ripe medium bananas, sliced 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup whole milk, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup whole wheat flour (can use regular, if desired)
  • 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 3 Tablespoons brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 ounces chocolate chips (a generous 1/4 cup)
  • 2 Tablespoons confectioners' sugar
  • maple syrup

Instructions

    Toast the nuts
  1. Preheat oven to 350F
  2. Toss the nuts with the oil, syrup, sugar, and salt.
  3. Spread in an even layer and toast for about 5-10 minutes, tossing halfway through.
  4. Remove and set aside to cool. (Can be made a day or two in advance)
  5. Make the dutch baby
  6. Preheat oven to 425F, place your 10-inch oven-proof skillet (I used cast iron) in the oven while it preheats.
  7. While oven is preheating, add the eggs, milk, and vanilla extract to a blender. Blend on high for about 45 seconds until foamy.
  8. Add the sugar, flours, salt, and cinnamon and blend mixture for another 30 seconds until frothy. Set aside.
  9. When oven is preheated, add the butter and allow to melt.
  10. Once the butter is completely melted, add the sliced bananas and stir to coat. Return to oven for a minute or two to soften and brown just ever so slightly on the bottom.
  11. Carefully remove the skillet from the oven and pour the batter into the skillet, on top of the banana slices. Sprinkle with chocolate chips and return the pan to the oven.
  12. Bake for 17 to 20 minutes until the pancake is slightly puffed and browned on top.
http://wee-eats.com/2016/02/01/baked-occasionally-kitchen-sink-dutch-baby/

Happy 2016!

snowman_marshmallow

Happy 2016, everyone! We made it through another year! I hope everyone enjoyed their holidays, I know things have been quiet around here lately. I like to take time during the holidays to actually, you know, enjoy the holidays.

I’m taking January off of blogging and dedicating it to hitting my “Reset” button. We’re doing another Whole 30 at home (here are some of my favorite W-30 recipes!) to work out all the holiday junk we consumed and then in February I’ll be diving head-first back into the blog with more recipes and regular installments of Thursday Things!

2015 Highlights

Top 10 Posts of 2015

Coming up in 2016

Last year Shannon of A Periodic Table and I teamed up to bring you the Jeni’s Spinalong project and I’m thrilled to announce that we are teaming up again this year! This year we plan to tackle Baked Occasions, the latest cookbook from that famous New York bakery! I got the book for Christmas and immediately thought of it being the perfect project because the whole book is organized by month of the year.

Starting in February we will begin sharing our posts on the first Monday of every month. You will get to see which recipe we picked from the book, along with any changes we made, and how it came out!

 

2015 Christmas Gift Guide

It’s almost time for presents, and if some of you are still left in the dark as to what to get your food-loving friends, I’m here to help!

For the ice cream lover:

Collage ice cream

Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams at Home ($10 – $16)

Wilton Incredible Ice Cream Scoop, cuts through even the hardest ice cream (~$10)

Ice cream containers – disposable or reusable – the choice is yours!

For the occasional ice cream maker, a Cuisinart 2-qt Ice Cream Maker (~ $50)

For the hard-core ice cream maker, go for the Cuisinart ICE-100 (~$200)

For the baker:

Collage baking

The KitchenAid Stand Mixer ($200 – 300) reigns supreme. If it’s just not possible, a well-made hand mixer can stand in, though it won’t be nearly as good for breads and heavy-duty doughs.

A heavy duty rolling pin ($20) and some helpful rolling pin guides ($8)

Durable measuring cups and spoons ($10)

I love these Oxo Containers ($17) – they’re great for storing flour, sugar, and anything else you can think of! (That size holds a 5-lb bag of flour)

A trusty kitchen scale ($11) for those recipes that measure by weight instead of volume.

For the pizza-maker:

Collage pizza

I’ve gone through a lot of pizza-cooking devices and this baking steel provides the best results by far.

Or go all out for the Pizzeria Pronto propane-powered pizza machine! ($299)

A nice pizza peel ($25)

A trusty pizza cutter ($12)

For the bartender:

Collage bar

No bar is complete without a cocktail shaker – get one with style like this adorable penguin-shaped masterpiece ($20)

Step up your skills with the ultimate bar book ($12).

Never miss out on a drink with this carry-on cocktail kit ($23). It makes an especially great gift for guests who will have to fly back home after the holiday!

Try something new with Scrappys Bitters sampler kit ($24).

Always have great-tasting wine with this pocket-sized wine aerator ($30).

For the coffee-lover:

Collage coffee

We use our Nespresso ($200-300) every day and I love it just as much as I did on day one. The perfect gift for the caffeine-lover who wants their coffee in 60 seconds.

The only thing I love as much as our Nespresso is its milk frother ($99) – which does hot and cold froth (who knew that was a thing?). Upgrade your espresso into a latte, cappuccino, or macchiato with ease.

Experience coffee in a whole new way with a Chemex coffee brewer ($45 – 65).

Whatever you’re drinking, drink it in style with a gorgeous double-walled Bodum tumbler ($20).

For the avid home chef:

Collage

When I worked at Sur la Table, we used the Breville Smart Oven ($200-250) for EVERYTHING and I could not get over how consistently amazing the results were. It is by far the best toaster oven around (and can make everything from toast, to pizza, to cupcakes!)

The InstantPot ($120) is the new 7-in-1 that is taking the world by storm. It’s even on my very own Christmas List this year! It is everything from a rice cooker to a slow cooker and even a pressure cooker all in one compact little gadget!

Ranked highest by America’s Test Kitchen, this slow cooker ($70-80) heats evenly and has extra features like a countdown timer and “keep warm” feature so you don’t have to worry about your meal over-cooking!

No kitchen is complete without a sturdy dutch oven, although Le Creuset really has the market cornered you can save a bundle with this one from Lodge ($60)!

Also on my own list, the Food Lab’s guide to better home cooking ($20-30) uses science to level up your kitchen skills.

These are my favorite kitchen spatulas ($15 for 4) by far, I use them for everything and they are super affordable (and dishwasher-safe!). StarPack has a large range of other products that are above-average quality and very durable, too!

DISCLAIMER: This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you purchase one of the products that I linked to, I may receive a small percentage of commission for your purchase.