Mardi Gras, King Cake & Things That Can Go WrongPosted by Franziska on Feb 24, 2012 in Blog, Food | 0 comments
I was lucky to be teaching a cooking class on Mardi Gras! Of course, I made some classics like Chicken & Sausage Gumbo, Crawfish Etouffée, Jambalaya and Bananas Foster. I think everything turned out really good and my hubby was happy I brought some leftovers home for him to try.
I am always prepared that something might go wrong during (or before) a class but luckily I am a pretty cool-headed chef and there is no such thing as “a problem”. Funny, because I am a hot tempered person in general… but I think when you’re working in a fast-paced job you have to be prepared, always.
And I have been tested: I’ve worked for them all, the vegan business man who hates onions, legumes and grains in general, the princess who’s allergic to anything edible, the demanding celebrity who eats only at dawn, the football player who needs 20 lbs of meat at every meal (and has 8 meals per day)… Check this list what I have come across, lol.
What’s also funny is that it’s not the people who make this job demanding but the circumstances. Imagine a cruise liner who runs out of flour in the middle of the ocean. A hotel walk-in freezer that shuts down in summer over night and all your ice-cream is melted and has gotten bad hours before an ice-cream party. Or you get the wrong products delivered (even though the labels on the boxes said something else). Whatever problem you can imagine, I am sure I can tell a story. My nerves have been tested!
Or a recipe that won’t work one hour before you are teaching a class (and you can’t figure out what the problem was). This is what happened on Tuesday: we wanted to make King Cake and the dough wouldn’t rise, three attempts later we still had a bad result. Right now I am not sure if it really was the recipe that didn’t work or if the yeast was dead. By experience, I think there were three problems: yeast dead, too many eggs and way too much butter!
My cooking classes are live shows, so I have to be flexible and come up with a solution. So, I got new yeast and made the dough without following a recipe real quick (note that this recipe usually takes a minimum of 4 hours to make). And it turned out real well. The baby king that we hid inside the cake was actually a baby panda (I couldn’t find a baby king in the stores, hahaha!!).
Nevertheless, here’s a King Cake recipe that works (if you do it right and the yeast is active) and is real yummy:
1/3 cup warm milk (body temperature)
2 pkg. dry yeast
3 cups flour
3 tbsp sugar
1 lemon (zests)
1/2 stick soft butter
- combine warm milk, yeast and 1 tsp sugar in a small bowl, mix well and set aside a couple of minutes until bubbles appear (yeast is active now)
- combine flour, sugar, lemon zest and add warm milk, yeast, eggs and butter, beat until smooth
- turn dough out on a floured surface and knead until the dough is smooth and elastic
- place dough in a bowl, cover with a towel and let rise in a warm place until doubled
- preheat oven to 350ºF
1/2 cup raisins
1/4 cup bourbon
3/4 cup dark, brown sugar
2/3 cup pecans, chopped
1 tsp vanilla (extract)
1 King Cake Baby
- plump raisins in the bourbon in a small saucepan over medium heat
- remove from the heat and add brown sugar, pecans, vanilla, cinnamon, orange zest; mix until combined and set aside
- punch the dough down and place on a lightly floured surface, roll into a 20-by-7-inch rectangle
- spoon the filling over the dough, leaving a 1-inch border along the top and bottom, fold bottom and then the top edge over the filling to make a tight roll; pinch to seal
- transfer roll seam-side down to a parchment-lined baking sheet; tuck one end into the other to form a ring
- cover loosely with plastic wrap and set aside in a warm place until the roll doubles in size
- place a well-greased metal can in the center of the ring to maintain round shape
- cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled
- bake cake until firm and golden brown, about 40 minutes, remove can immediately, cool on a rack
1 cup powdered sugar
2 tbsp water
purple, green and gold sugar crystals
- combine sugar and water until smooth, brush cake with glaze
- sprinkle with sugar crystals, alternating colors
- place baby king in cake
I love teaching classes. This one definitely was a winner because the participants were really sweet and very engaged, the volunteers rocked and I got to spend time with my friends Ruth and Maria (the cooking school managers) who are always professional, fun, helpful and just plain awesome