I live life in the future. As in, my body might be in the present, but my mind is one week, two weeks, three weeks, A MONTH in the future. Lots of times, this is not ideal. Like when I’m turning onto the highway, thinking about what kind of Oscars snacks I wanna eat and completely miss the fact that the highway is at A DEAD STOP and I should have noticed BEFORE I got in the turn lane because now it’s too late.
But other times, like when I stumble across a King Cake recipe two months before Mardi Gras, and have ample time to buy plastic babies online, locate purple glitter and carve myself out an entire day to make said cake, then my tendency to live in the future really comes in handy. It just means
I’ve got my shit together I’m mentally and physically prepared for stuff. Or that’s what I’m telling myself, at least 🙂
Anyway, I found this King Cake recipe on Joy the Baker’s website and though she’s not a New Orleans native, she lived in the French Quarter for a bit, which I think accelerates your NOLA cred, AND I felt good about getting a cake recipe from someone with “the Baker” in their title. Also, she adapted her recipe from John Besh’s and I feel like he probably knows his way around a King Cake. This is all to say, I felt like this was a recipe I trusted. And after using it with success, I 100% recommend it.
What, you don’t have butter softening on your kitchen shelf?
Yeast scares the heck out of me but this dough rose just as it was supposed to and OH MY GOD, it smelled HEAVENLY. Better than the $1 cinnamon buns smelled at IKEA the day before.
I tried mixing the filling (with perfectly softened butter!) with a spoon and then said “forget it!” and used my hands. It was oddly satisfying and also felt like the best sugar scrub when I washed it off afterwards.
The dough didn’t give me ANY trouble when I rolled it out, spread it with cinnamon-sugar butter and re-rolled it. HUGE SIGH OF RELIEF.
Would you believe this was my first braided bread attempt? Okay, my end connecting could use some work, but otherwise I was pretty proud of myself. I let this rise for half an hour and took myself on a run, because: balance!
Baked it for about 5 minutes longer than the recipe said and it was nice and toasty looking on the outside but so tender and soft on the inside. Bakers always be saying “don’t be afraid to let your dough get some color” and I was afraid but it all turned out just fine.
Once it was fully cooled (and my house smelled fully intoxicating), I mixed up the glaze, which honestly seemed just a tad too thin, and poured it over. Cut to Joey and I spooning it from the sides back over the top for several minutes. There was a glaze jacuzzi in the middle that I wanted to swim in. Then sprinkles, sprinkles, sprinkles. They were all different coarsenesses (is that a word?), but whatever!
Joey directed me where to cut the first piece and I hit that baby, even though I was the one who put it in and should have known exactly where it was. Doh!
Honestly, I was so excited for this little King Cake project and it couldn’t have gone better. It was surprisingly easy and totally paid off because this tasted so good! I’m trying to think back on all the King Cakes I’ve eaten in this life — no joke, when my sister and I went to Mardi Gras in 2012, we ate something like five different King Cakes — and I feel like most have been of the soft bread-y texture. This one definitely had more of a crispy exterior, but I kinda LOVED that about it! Mostly, I’m excited to know I don’t have to debate shelling out a bunch of money to ship myself one from NOLA every year, because I can just make one myself.
Also, I had lunch with my mom yesterday and gave her a big old piece and it made my heart so happy to share a piece of New Orleans with the person who passed her love for that city down to me ♥