Hello! I’m Zavella Sanders and today we will be going over the processes of making a Mardi Gras King Cake. Its a dish native to Louisiana and it has a lot of processes that go over most of the important and relevant processes within the actual world of baking.
In this recipe milk is being heated and used in this recipe. However, the question is why is it being heated? And how does this affect the dish? When milk is being heated it causes the denaturation process. This process causes the proteins in the milk itself to break and loosen up and then reform. This when mixed into a recipe causes the volume to increase. Giving it a fluffier texter and making it less tough. This in particular happens when mixed with a leavening agent such as yeast. Speaking of which….
Yeast is the leavening agent within the cake. The leavening agent is, when combined with certain activators like heat will cause it to activate. This is why the milk is heated, it causes the leavening agent to activate.
Eggs are important in any recipe. They help to create a sort of structure in any recipe by being an emulsifier. The proteins within the egg allowing this emulsification binding the fat and liquid together. This structure is like the back bone of any recipe. And when warmed the egg can also help thicken up any recipes like a custard.
Sugar does a couple of things with any recipe. Sugar, most obviously has one of the many “coses” (glucose, sucrose, fructose etc.) inside of it. These sugars give a tastier and sweeter flavor in any recipe. When cooked the smell of the sugar can also help make the food taste better. Studies show that smell makes up about 70% of the actual taste. Sugar can also keep in moisture because of sugar and waters attraction to each other. The addition of sugar in the dough helps to keep it from going try too easily.
Preheating the oven is a task that is still relevant and important. What is happening is essentially to shorten the cooking time. The radiation that is in the oven needs time to spread through the oven. Without it the browning of the dough for the cake would take longer. Along with what is cooking inside (the nuts etc) won’t be properly cooked and the maillard effect will take longer, without enough radiation heating it.
The butter has a unique affect on things. For the cinnamon mixture the melted butter is helping to make it have a flakier feel and texture to the finished product.
Cutting the dough
Cutting the dough helps things deals with the rapid expansion of bread when put in an oven. The expansion is reduced or controlled a bit.
Confectioners sugar in this recipe is put over the dough to make the sort of sugary topping. The water interacts with the powdery sugar. This causes the sugar to break apart more easily because the confectioners sugar is full of big crystals making it easier to dissolve in the water and spread across the icing.
Oiling the bowl
Oiling the bowl allows the dough, when set inside to rise from the heat, won’t stick inside the bowl. The oil forces the dough not to stick or solidify itself to the bowl.
Flour acts as a sort of gelatin for within baked goods. The more proteins in a flour there is the stronger the structure made from the dough. However this can make a form too strong which is why all purpose flours is being used here rather than one in higher protein.
Adjustments to the recipe can vary a bit. The key ones I’d like to highlight are
- Cake flour instead of All Purpose
- Honey instead of confectioners sugar
- Fruits instead of nuts
Cake flour is being used in this situation because Cake flour has less proteins than all purpose flour. Thanks to this the general structure of the cake would be weaker which can lessen the toughness, especially given there are nuts inside that normally already make it fairly tough.
Honey instead of confectioners sugar. Honey is sweeter and thicker, and because of this it would allow us to remove some of the extra water that would’ve been used for confectioners sugar. The sweeter taste of fructose can also add to the flavor and help counteract the bitterness from the affects of caramelization within the nuts.
Replacing the nuts with fruits help a lot with giving a sweeter smell and aroma in the dish. It also softens when caramelized unlike nuts so the dish is softer and easier on the teeth while also being really sweet.
- Scald milk, remove from heat and stir in 1/4 cup of butter. Allow mixture to cool to room temperature. In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in the warm water with 1 tablespoon of the white sugar. Let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes. Step 2
- When yeast mixture is bubbling, add the cooled milk mixture. Whisk in the eggs. Stir in the remaining white sugar, salt and nutmeg. Beat the flour into the milk/egg mixture 1 cup at a time. When the dough has pulled together, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 8 to 10 minutes. Step 3
- Lightly oil a large bowl, place the dough in the bowl and turn to coat with oil. Cover with a damp cloth or plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, about 2 hours. When risen, punch down and divide dough in half. Step 4
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Grease 2 cookie sheets or line with parchment paper. Step 5
- To Make Filling: Combine the brown sugar, ground cinnamon, chopped pecans, 1/2 cup flour and 1/2 cup raisins. Pour 1/2 cup melted butter over the cinnamon mixture and mix until crumbly. Step 6
- Roll dough halves out into large rectangles (approximately 10x16 inches or so). Sprinkle the filling evenly over the dough and roll up each half tightly like a jelly roll, beginning at the wide side. Bring the ends of each roll together to form 2 oval shaped rings. Place each ring on a prepared cookie sheet. With scissors make cuts 1/3 of the way through the rings at 1 inch intervals. Let rise in a warm spot until doubled in size, about 45 minutes. Step 7
- Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes. Push the doll into the bottom of the cake. Frost while warm with the confectioners' sugar blended with 1 to 2 tablespoons of water.