A Homemade King Cake

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.

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What, you don’t have butter softening on your kitchen shelf?

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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.

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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.  

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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.

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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!

 

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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.

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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!

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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 ♥

Weekend Trip: New Orleans

Back in January, Joey and I resolved to make 2016 the year of the weekend vacation.  Our first stop: NEW ORLEANS! It’s my favorite non-Denver city, my mom was already going to be there, Joey and I hadn’t been there together since October of 2013 and it was going to be crawfish AND snoball season.  In other words, it was a no-brainer!

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When you’re in the South, go red or go home // We took the new train to the airport and even though it was snowing and I was in tights, it was still really fun and really easy // Dove headfirst into a plate of fried shrimp after a delayed departure (um the pilots were MIA…) and a fun 40-minutes of sitting on the tarmac, waiting for it to stop storming enough to get off the plane.  Oy!

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Emily picked us up for a sugar rush in the form of District Donuts and Vietnamese Iced Coffee // We seriously debated rain booting it at Jazz Fest, but “settled” for crawfish instead // I only impaled myself on a shell once…

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It finally stopped raining on Monday so I declared it an epic eating day — had to make up for lost time! // Breakfast at Willa Jean — had a “Milk Money Latte” that tasted like a marshmallow // Made our way to the French Quarter to pose in front of the St. Louis Cathedral // Sniffed a hibiscus and felt lucky to live in a world with flowers. 

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Music in the Quarter on a Monday — gosh, I love this city // Molé Cortado from teeny tiny Spitfire Coffee // The Cornstalk Fence Hotel // A much anticipated stop at Erin Rose/Killer PoBoys for mid-day drinks (Joey got his first Sazerac!  I stuck to the frozen Irish Coffee.) and lunch // Gonna dream of that bánh mì-style shrimp po boy for the rest of my life!

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Shopped the Riverwalk, walked the river, headed to Magazine street and shopped there too // Bought a “Beignet, done that” shirt that I want to wear every day forever // Waited 40 minutes for a table at Shaya just to eat hummus // Had a religious hummus and pita experience // RUINED for hummus from anywhere else now.

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Many hours later, dinner at Cochon // Tried 4 other restaurants before finally finding one with less than an hour and a half wait — New Orleans takes its dining scene seriously on ANY night of the week! // Ham hock, baked mac and cheese, rabbit & dumplings (I couldn’t do it but Joey could), fresh rolls and the best saison // WORTH THE WAIT.

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Morning in the Bywater // Breakfast with a pretty kitty // Colorful houses to swoon over // Wandering the St. Roch Market // Big Easy Bucha // Hugging everyone goodbye and wondering how this trip went by so fast 😦  Till next time, Nola!

Where We Ate:

Phil’s Marina Café

District: Donuts.Sliders.Brew

Rivershack Tavern: “Home of the tacky ashtray”

Willa Jean

Erin Rose / Killer PoBoys

Spitfire Coffee

Shaya

Cochon

Satsuma Café (the Dauphine location)

St. Roch Market

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Sadly, my grandpa passed away on Saturday, so we are home in Denver for a day then flying to Ohio for the funeral.  I wish the occasion was a happier one, but I’m so looking forward to a few days with (the other side of) my family!