Strawberry Cream Biscuits and Strawberry Sauce

It’s Good Friday-Easter weekend already. That’s wild. This year is flying by.

I hope that everyone who celebrates a holiday of some kind, whether it’s a religious one or not, gets to enjoy some good food as apart of it. It’s kind of become a tradition for me to cook a nice Brunch-Brinner for our house.

I’ve actually been holding this post back for a while. I baked it right at the end of the summer, just before strawberries were finna go out of season. I made a judgment call to keep it in the Drafts folder all throughout the autumn and the long winter because I felt like it would be counterproductive and awkward to share a recipe with produce that would probably be out of season.

Now that April is winding down and the weather is starting to warm up, hopefully strawberries are starting to become more readily (and affordably) available wherever you are. If so, then I highly, HIGHLY recommend that you get into this recipe. It has two components and strawberries are all up in both.

You can incorporate just about any mix in that you want into a biscuit dough, including strawberries. However, they are very wet, especially when sliced. This can make assembling the dough somewhat messier than it may be normally, so in order to nix that issue, I froze the sliced strawberries ahead of time so that when they’re mixed into the biscuit dough, the juices wouldn’t gush out and make the dummy gummy. Don’t worry; when the biscuits bake the berries will thaw out perfectly.

Now, listen. About the strawberry sauce. Let me talk to you about this strawberry SAUCE. It’s tart. It’s slightly sweet. It’s smooth. It’s sublime, and I want it for everything. My biscuits. My pound cake. My ice cream. My toast. All of the things.

This dish is a taste of pure spring, and I think that all of you deserve to take a bite for this Easter weekend. So get to it.

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Strawberry Cream Biscuits and Strawberry Sauce

Recipe Adapted from Better Home & Gardens

Ingredients

For Biscuits

  • 2 cups flour
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 tablespoons butter, frozen
  • 1 cup fresh strawberries, hulled and diced
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream, or more as needed, chilled

For Strawberry Sauce

  • 2 cups fresh strawberries
  • 1/3 cups sugar
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions

Spread the strawberries out in a single layer on a baking sheet that you line with parchment paper or aluminum foil. Place the sheet pan in the freezer for 60 minutes, until they are very firm.

In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt with a fork. Use the large holes on a box grater to grate butter directly into the frozen ingredients and stir to combine. Add the strawberries and stir together until strawberries are coated in the flour.

Make a well in the center of the bowl and pour in the heavy cream, stirring together with a fork until just moistened. If it seems a little dry you can add more heavy cream until it comes together.

Sprinkle a pastry mat, wooden cutting board or wax paper with flour. Turn the dough out onto the surface and pat a few times with your hands until it loosely holds together. (Don’t knead it too much or the warmth in your palms will melt the butter and cause the biscuits to be tough.)  Pat and roll the dough into a rectangle. Take the two opposite ends and fold them together like a business letter into thirds. Flip it upside down and pat & roll it into another rectangle, sprinkling the surface with flour if it gets too sticky. Repeat the folding process two to three more times before patting it into one final rectangle, about 7-8 inches and 1 inch thick. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

Preheat oven to 425°. Place a shallow pan of water on the bottom rack of the oven.

Place dough on a parchment-lined baking sheet.

Use a bench scraper or very sharp knife to trim the edges of the rectangle. Using a floured pizza cutter or knife, cut 12 to 16 squares in dough, leaving biscuits intact. Place the sheet pan in the freezer for 20 minutes. Bake in the upper half of the oven for 17-20 minutes. Serve warm with the Strawberry Sauce.

For Strawberry Sauce:  In a medium saucepan combine the strawberries, sugar, and water. Bring to simmering; cook and stir until strawberries pop and sauce has thickened. Remove from heat, then stir in the vanilla. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Sharing at Fiesta Friday #272, cohosted this week by Antonia @ Zoale.com and Angie @ Fiesta Friday.

Smothered Sweet Potatoes

I grew up in a very religious household and every year as apart of our faith the church we attended encouraged the members to do some form of fasting for the months of January and the first two weeks of February. It was meant to be an exercise in drawing the believer closer to God and encourage gratitude by practicing the self-denial and discipline that comes with fasting. In theory, anyway.

It was kind of like an early form of Lent. Some people would actually fast from food completely for the entire 40 days. Others would fast from things like television. But most people would just opt for a Daniel Fast.

It’s a reference to the prophet Daniel from the Bible who at one point consumed nothing but vegetables for 10 days.In a nutshell, it’s a diet where the participant doesn’t eat meat, alcohol, processed sugar and in some cases, most grains. It’s the fast that we most often participated in. Is it a blast? Not particularly. But there are ways of cooking so that you don’t have to be munching on crudites for 40 days.

My mom would cook a lot of potatoes in a lot of different ways for us. Our favorite way was to fry them up smothered style in a skillet. I shared one recipe a long time ago when I first started the blog. Today I decided to give out another one that’s made with one minor ingredient swap.

I’m actually partial to sweet spuds as opposed to Russets. I’m surprised it took me this long to getting around to sharing this recipe; it’s probably because so far as ‘recipes’ go, there’s not a whole lot of rigid structure or rules to smothered potatoes. I don’t specify how much of the spices to add because after so many years, it’s really become a kind of ‘instinctual’ preference. You season them until they taste right. If you’re really that nervous about it, go easy with the salt and it’ll be fine.

Smothered potatoes made the ritual of Daniel fasting infinitely easier for us to do growing up. Potatoes are still a comfort me for me, and I enjoy these so much that I still like to make them now as a favorite side dish. Try this dish out for yourself and I think you’ll understand why.

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Southern Sweet Potatoes

Recipe from Jess@CookingisMySport

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup liquid bacon grease
  • 4 lbs sweet potatoes, scrubbed, sliced into thin rounds (peeled or not is up to you)
  • 1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • Onion Powder to taste
  • Garlic powder to taste
  • Salt, to taste
  • Pepper, to taste

 

Directions

Heat a cast iron skillet or nonstick pan over medium high heat.

Drizzle about 2 tbsp of the bacon grease into the pan, swirl about to evenly cover the surface.

Add enough potatoes and onions to pan to fill up. (You will have to do this in multiple batches).Sprinkle a generous coating of the onion powder, garlic powder over the potatoes and onions. Stir to evenly coat, then add a little bit more if necessary.

Add the salt and pepper to the potatoes and onions (be a little less generous with these, I typically do about 1 tsp of each per batch).

Cover the pan and allow to cook until potatoes are brown, tender and slightly crisp at the edges, stirring occasionally to avoid sticking at the bottom of the skillet.

Repeat steps 2-6 in batches with the remaining potatoes and onions and serve.

Sharing at Fiesta Friday #271, co-hosted this week by  Ai @ Ai Made It For You and Angie @ Fiesta Friday.

Ginger Biscotti

There are a certain set of foods that I like to think of as ‘Blank Canvas’ recipes. They’re perfectly able to stand alone, delicious just the way they are. However, they’re versatile and ‘blank’ enough to be able to ‘color; (and thereby enhance) them with all kinds of different flavor profiles. A good Blank Canvas recipe should have minimal base ingredients and be pretty hard to mess up.

Biscuits are a perfect example of a Blank Canvas. They’re great on their own, but they’re also extremely versatile to the point that they’re able to be either sweet or savory. Pound cake is another great Blank Canvas. Once you have a good base recipe for a pound cake, you can add just about anything you want to it; extracts, zest, chocolate, fruit, booze, vegetables–the possibilities are endless.

I’ve shared Blank Canvas recipes many times before on the blog, both in their original form and when I’ve added the variety of flavors to enhance them. Search the Recipe Index and you’ll find many variations of biscuits, pound cake, and scones. I checked myself just now and saw that there are also currently three different kinds of biscotti to choose from. Guess what? After today, there’ll be four.

Biscotti are THE cookies for us coffee and tea drinkers. They’re minimally sweet, extra crunchy, and perfect for dunking in a cup of hot caffeine. The base recipe is also basic and versatile enough to be able to be given just about any flavor you could possibly think of, and that includes sweet AND savory.

I’ve made biscotti about four times before and I’ve tried to do something different with it each time. Today’s recipe is the latest rendition on the Blank Biscotti Canvas. Ginger is a spice that I try to throw in most of everything that I cook in general. Since it lends itself so well to sweet and savory, it was easy to incorporate here. The dough is flavored with both dried and crystallized ginger, giving it an extra boost of sweet and subtle heat. I added an iced drizzle to top off my biscotti, but it’s not necessary if you prefer to just eat them plain. They’re certainly delicious enough to do so.

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Ginger Biscotti

Recipe Adapted from King Arthur Flour

Ingredients

  • 6 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar (light or dark), packed
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 cup finely diced crystallized ginger

For Glaze:

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • a few tablespoons milk

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a small bowl combine the eggs and vanilla. In the bowl of a standing mixer or using a handheld one, beat together the butter, sugar, spices, salt, and baking powder until mixture is smooth and creamy.

Add the egg mixture; it may look lightly curdled.

Add the flour in about 1 cup increments, mixing just until combined. Mix in the crystallized ginger.

Scrape dough out of the bowl and onto the parchment paper. Shape it into a log about 14″ long. It will be about 2 1/2″ wide and 3/4″ thick. Use either a spatula you’ve sprayed with cooking spray or your fingers that you’ve wet with water to smooth out the top of the log.

Bake for 25-30 minutes.

Remove from oven and allow to cool on the pan about 30 minutes. Lower oven temperature to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.

Dip your fingers into water and smooth out the top of the log again.

Wait another five minutes, then use a serrated knife to press down firmly and cut the log into 1/2″ to 3/4″ slices. Cut at a 45° angle, for long biscotti; cut crosswise slices, for shorter biscotti. As you’re slicing, be sure to cut straight up and down, perpendicular to the pan; if you cut unevenly, biscotti may be thicker at the top than the bottom, and they’ll topple over during their second bake.

Set the biscotti on edge on the baking sheet. Return to oven and bake for an additional 25-30 minutes. They should feel very dry, but they may still feel a little moist in the center; that’s ok. They’ll continue to dry out as they cool.

Remove to a wire rack to cool completely. Once completely cooled, combine all the glaze ingredients until you have a thick-ish glaze and use a fork to drizzle over the sides of the biscotti. Allow to set for about 15 minutes until glaze is hardened.

For extra crunchy biscotti, leave them uncovered overnight to keep drying out.

Sharing at Fiesta Friday #269, co-hosted this week by Mollie @ Frugal Hausfrau and Ai @ Ai Made It For You.

Butter ‘Finger’ Cookies

Today’s post is another one for all the people who may be reading this and think that they can’t bake. I understand. I used to feel that way too. But believe me when I say that there are some recipes out there that are near impossible to mess up. I don’t just mean box mix recipes, either. Despite what you think, it IS possible to bake certain things from scratch, and not have to worry about blowing it because it’s just too simple.

I’ve made these cookies numerous times before when I needed a dessert to take somewhere to pass at a social function, and either didn’t have a lot of time or just didn’t feel like doing much work. Everybody loves butter cookies. These come together in minutes and bake in pretty much the same amount of time.

You probably have most, if not all, of the ingredients to make this in your house already. I think the best part is that you don’t have to worry about rolling them out and fooling with any cookie cutters. Just spoon all the dough in a bag (and yes, you *can* just use a ziploc bag and snip off the end) and pipe it out in tiny little sticks. They don’t have to be straight. In fact, I purposely piped mine into kind of oval-ish shapes so that when they baked, they would resemble little ‘fingers’.

I used vanilla emulsion, but this dough can be flavored in pretty much anyway you want. I think they’d be wonderful with lemon or orange. Once they’re done baking, you can dip them in chocolate and sprinkles to jazz them up. These are a perfect little snack to have alongside coffee, tea or cocoa. They transport very well and the freshness also lasts when stored in a sealed plastic container.

Get into these, y’all. They’re worth it.

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Butter 'Finger' Cookies

Recipe Adapted from Joy of Baking

Ingredients

  • 1 Cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup sugar, plus more for sprinkling
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla butter emulsion (like LorAnn Oils, but vanilla extract will work fine too)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups all purpose flour

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

In the bowl of a standing mixer or using a handheld one, beat together the butter and sugar until creamy and fluffy. Add the egg yolks one at a time, mixing just until combined and yellow disappears. Add the vanilla emulsion.

In a small bowl combine the flour with the salt, stirring together with a fork. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture in 1 cup increments, mixing just until combined.

Line a sheet pan with parchment paper and lightly spray with cooking spray.

Spoon the dough into a pastry bag or a gallon size Ziploc plastic bag fitted with a decorating tip (I used a Wilton 6B tip, but if you don’t have one, it’s not necessary, they just won’t be ridged) and pipe it into curved or straight sticks that you space about 2 inches apart on the sheet. Once finished, refrigerate the sheet pan for about 30 minutes.

Sprinkle the tops of the cookies with a little bit more sugar. Bake in the oven on the middle rack until just golden brown, about 10-12 minutes.

(Note: no one oven is the same, & different baking sheets bake cookies differently. Keeping this in mind, I will ALWAYS test bake one cookie before baking entire sheets of the whole batch, just to get a good idea of how long they should be in the oven and if I need to adjust the way I’ve cut, rolled them out, etc. I highly recommend that you do the same.)

Sharing at Fiesta Friday #267, co-hosted this week by Antonia @ Zoale.com and Abbey @ Three Cats and a Girl.

Halal Style Chicken and Rice

My older sister lived in NYC for two years while she was getting her Masters. I remember that while she was there she told me about the halal carts that she bought food from in the street. She raved about the Halal Chicken, and was so positive that I would rave about it too, if I were there to try it.

Unfortunately, I still haven’t made it out to New York to try street Halal Chicken. But today’s post, I think, is a decent substitute to tide me over until I do–because that day is coming. I’m sure of it.

When food in general is called ‘halal’, it refers to food that is processed or prepared in a certain way as to be permissible under Islamic dietary laws. Halal meat is supposed to be slaughtered and cleaned in a specific way. When you refer to Halal chicken in another context, such as street food, most people (especially in the US) are going to think of it as a chicken and rice dish with primarily Mediterranean flavors.

My take on Halal Chicken starts with a yogurt marinade. I learned a few years ago when I made Chicken Shawarma that marinading chicken in yogurt is an excellent way to keep it from drying out while cooking. I wouldn’t leave the chicken in it overnight though, as the marinade does have lemon juice. Sometimes if chicken sits too long in an acidic marinade, the acid in the lemon could begin to break down the proteins in the meat, and it will end up cooking mushy. A few hours is all this one needs.

I used my electric griddle to cook the chicken, but if it’s a bit warmer where you are and you’ve got one, I think that grilling it would give even better flavor. If you’ve got neither one of those, a cast iron or regular skillet will work fine as well. When the chicken seared on my griddle, I found that the residual yogurt created a blackened crust on the outside of it that is often associated with halal chicken. It smelled soooo good while it was cooking.

The rice and white sauce come together easily and quickly. The turmeric and cumin are a must to give the rice that warm, smoky taste. I also cook mine in chicken broth to give added flavor. I’m so proud that when my sister tried this, she announced that it tasted JUST like the halal chicken she used to buy on the streets of New York. High praise indeed. If you’re like me and have never been to NYC and still want to find out what the fuss is about the halal chicken, maybe you’d like to try this out. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

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Halal Style Chicken and Rice

Recipe Adapted from Serious Eats

Ingredients

For the Chicken:

  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh oregano
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 tablespoon ground sumac
  • salt and pepper
  • 4-6 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  • 3/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cups whole fat plain yogurt
  • 2 1/2-3 pounds boneless skinless chicken breast

For the Rice:

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 1/2 cups long grain Basmati rice
  • 2 1/2 cups chicken broth
  • salt and pepper

For White Sauce:

  • 1 cup of whole fat, plain yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 tablespoons white vinegar
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped parsley
  • 1 teaspoon of garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • salt and pepper

Directions

Place the chicken breast in gallon size resealable plastic bags, or in one large container.

Combine the lemon juice, herbs, spices, garlic, olive oil and yogurt together in a blender. Taste and adjust for seasoning, then pour over the chicken breast.

Turn the sealed bags over a few times to make sure marinade throughly covers chicken. Refrigerate for at least one hour and up to four hours.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Heat a few tablespoons of oil over medium high heat in a skillet, or you can use a griddle, like I did.

Cook chicken until browned on its sides, about 4 minutes per side. If need be, you can finish it in the oven; place a wire rack over a foil lined sheet pan and bake chicken for about an additional 5-10 minutes. (The inner temp should read about 165 degrees Fahrenheit)

Keep chicken loosely covered with foil while you make the rice.

Melt the butter in the bottom of a medium size pot. Add the turmeric and cumin and cook until fragrant but not quite browned, about 1 minute.

Add the rice and stir. Add the chicken broth. Season with salt and pepper.

Bring the heat the high and allow to come to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes without disturbing.

Remove from the heat and allow to sit for an additional 15 minutes until the liquid is absorbed and the rice is tender.

For the sauce: combine all of the ingredients together and taste and adjust for seasoning.

Serve with pita bread, lettuce and tomatoes and hummus.

Sharing at Fiesta Friday #266, co-hosted this week by Laurena @ Life Diet Health and Jhuls @ The Not So Creative Cook.

Iced Orange Cream Scones

Watching Downton Abbey always makes me have this random and somewhat impractical wish to drop everything, go off the grid and open a tea room somewhere.

I didn’t use to like it at all, but I’ve gotten into drinking a lot more tea over the past few years. I’m partial to spicy ones, both for flavor and because they really help cure some of my digestive woes.

Unsurprisingly, my favorite part of running a tea room would be the menu planning. Tea rooms menus feature all kind of dainty and delicious looking treats. I have yet to tackle making cucumber or watercress sandwiches. I still haven’t checked off the Victoria Sandwich Cake from my Baking Bucket List (soon come though). There is one staple from the tea menu that I’ve made my share of: the almighty scone.

I’ve been trying to bring my scone making technique up to par with my biscuit making one, especially as the method for making them is so similar. I have a whole post dedicated to laying out the steps for what I consider to be the best biscuits I’ve ever made. I intend to do one for scones too, but in the meanwhile I wanted to share a recipe I tested along the way to getting to Scone Nirvana.

It starts with one very crucial ingredient: heavy cream. Heavy cream not only helps with the crumb of the scone, the added fat in it helps with a higher rise. I also let the scone dough rest in the fridge overnight. It gave the gluten time to rest and firm up so that when I cut them out, the edges weren’t as easily compressed as they could be if they were still soft. They baked up so beautifully that I seriously considered leaving them plain, but I decided to go along with my original idea of trying out how they would hold up to a thin layer of icing. The answer, again, was beautifully.

If my whimsical tea room idea were a reality, this would without question be going onto the menu. Although they’re technically scones, the crumb is so delicate and fluffy that they honestly reminded me of a dense cake. The icing process does admittedly require some time and attention, but it’s worth it. They’re divine, with or without a cup of tea on the side.

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Iced Orange Cream Scones

Recipe Adapted from King Arthur Flour

Ingredients

  • 2 3/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 cup (8 tablespoons butter) frozen
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • zest of 1 orange
  • 2/3 cup heavy cream, plus more if needed

For Icing

  • 3 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 7 tablespoons of water, enough to make a thin glaze
  • orange zest, for garnish, optional

Directions

Combine the flour, sugar, salt and baking powder together in a bowl and stir together with a fork. Beat the eggs together with the vanilla in a small bowl with a fork and set aside.

Use the large holes on a box grater to grate the butter directly into the dry ingredients. Stir in the orange zest.

Make a well in the center. Pour in the beaten egg-vanilla mixture. Pour in the heavy cream. Use a large fork and a large rubber spatula to stir the mixture together. If it seems a little dry you may add additional heavy cream until it forms a shaggy dough.

Sprinkle a pastry mat, wooden cutting board or wax paper with flour. Turn the dough out onto the surface and pat a few times with your hands until it loosely holds together. (Don’t knead it too much or the warmth in your palms will melt the butter and cause the scones to be tough.)

Pat and roll the dough into a rectangle. Take the two opposite ends and fold them together like a business letter into thirds. Flip it upside down and pat & roll it into another rectangle, sprinkling the surface with flour if it gets too sticky. Repeat the folding process two to three more times before patting it into one final rectangle.

Wrap the rectangle in plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Place a shallow pan of water on the bottom rack of the oven.

Sprinkle your work surface with flour and unwrap the scone dough out onto it. Use a bench scraper or very sharp knife to trim the edges of the rectangle. Cut the remaining dough into squares, about 2″ each. Cut the squares into triangles. (You can also leave some as squares if you want to keep them a little bigger; the sizes here are up to you).

Remove the cut scones to a baking sheet you’ve lined with parchment paper, rather close to each other (it will help them rise higher). Place the pan of scones in the freezer for 30 minutes, uncovered.

Bake the scones for 15 to 20 minutes, or until they’re golden brown. Remove the pan from the oven, and allow the scones to cool right on the pan. When they’re cool, if you wish, you can cut each scone in half once again to make even tinier scones. Or, you can leave them as is.

For the icing: stir together the powdered sugar and enough of the water to make a glaze that is not so watery that it’s runny, but not too thick so that it won’t run down the sides of the scones.

Line another baking sheet with foil and a wire rack and set next to your bowl of icing.

Place a scone upside down into the bowl of icing. Gently lift it out, right side up and balance it on a spatula (the kind you’d use to flip pancakes) As the icing starts to run down the sides, use a fork to help spread it around evenly. Place the iced scone on the wire rack and sprinkle with orange zest.

Repeat process with the rest of the scones. Allow to sit for at least one hour, until the icing has hardened.

Sharing at this week’s Fiesta Friday #265, co-hosted this week by Laurena @ Life Diet Health and Kat @ Kat’s 9 Lives.

 

Pecan Praline Cream Cheese King Cake

Laissez le bon temps rouler, everyone.

That’s French for “Let the Good Times Roll.” It’s a phrase that gets thrown around a lot at this time of year, as it’s usually the time for Mardi Gras. I have never been to a Mardi Gras celebration. Unfortunately, I’ve never even been to Louisiana. I do really like Cajun food, though. For now I guess that’s as close as I’m going to get.

Gumbo, jambalya, beignets, and pecan pralines are just a few of the things that come to mind when it comes to Mardi Gras food, or Cajun food itself. There’s also a little dessert called King Cake that gets associated with both, and will be the focus of today’s post. It may be called a ‘Cake’, but I prefer to think of King Cake as a very enriched delicious sweet bread that’s filled with delicious sweet stuff.

The fillings can range from cinnamon sugar and pecans, cream cheese, marzipan, or fruit. The most common is cinnamon sugar with pecans. The top of the cake is drizzled with a thin glaze or icing, then showered in purple, green and yellow sprinkles–the common colors of Mardi Gras. Most King Cakes are filled with a small plastic baby to signify the Baby Jesus. The person who finds the ‘Baby King’ in their piece of cake is supposed to have a lucky year.

I made my first King Cake two years ago. I kept things simple, with a twist, and filled it with chocolate. I didn’t get around to making one last year, so I knew that going into this year I was going to be sure I didn’t make that mistake again. I did want to shake things up and make it a different way than I did before. I also wanted to do more than just a cinnamon sugar-pecan filling.

I have one complaint with a lot of the cinnamon sugar fillings in bread that both I’ve seen, and tried : the cinnamon sugar often ends up getting absorbed into the dough while baking, and by the time all is done, there’s not much of it left. I wanted this King Cake to be truly decadent and full of…filling by the time it was finished baking.

I found a recipe for a King Cake that does just that on LemonBaby.co. The filling in Amanda’s recipe is made from a mix of melted butter, cream cheese and brown sugar and toasted pecans. The dairy gets simmered together with the sugar until it forms a smooth sweet sticky spread, then the nuts get mixed in just before it all is slathered on the risen dough. Most King Cakes are shaped into rings, but for this one I choose to make a loose braid that I then wound into one big mass. Feel free to do whatever you like with this one in shaping.

Huge props to Amanda for this recipe. It was EXACTLY what I was looking for. The pecan praline filling doesn’t get absorbed by the dough at all during baking, and the cream cheese gives it a nice tang of flavor to counterbalance all the other sweetness that goes on in a King Cake. It would pair perfectly in the morning with a cup of coffee.

King Cake requires some time, but the effort is definitely more than worth it.

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Pecan Praline Cream Cheese King Cake

Recipe Courtesy of LemonBaby

Ingredients

For Dough

  • 3/4 cup warm milk
  • 3 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 1/4 cup, plus 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1 stick of butter, melted and cooled
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 whole egg
  • 1 tablespoon water

For Filling

  • 8 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup brown sugar (light or dark, doesn’t matter)
  • 1 stick butter, softened
  • 1 cup chopped, toasted pecans

For Icing

  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • Milk
  • Purple, green and yellow sanding sugar or sprinkles

 

Directions

Pour the warm milk into a glass measuring bowl. Sprinkle the yeast on top, then sprinkle the one tablespoon of sugar on top of that. Allow to sit for 10 minutes until proofed and frothy.

Stir together the flour, cinnamon and salt in a medium size bowl and set aside.

Pour the yeast-water mixture into the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add the melted butter, egg yolks, and vanilla extract and mix on medium until combined.

Switch to the dough hook and add the flour mixture gradually, in about three increments, mixing on medium speed just until the dough begins to come together around the hook. Once it has, turn off the mixer and scrape the dough out onto a clean work surface that you’ve sprinkled with flour (like a pastry mat or a smooth countertop). Use your hands to firmly knead the dough until it is smooth and elastic, about 10-12 minutes. You can use additional flour (about 1/4 cup at a time) if it’s still too sticky; I also prefer to rub my hands with canola, olive or vegetable oil before kneading and that helps a lot without having to add more flour.

. (The dough is ready when you can stretch one piece of it out very thin, and it’s translucent enough to see through.)

Grease the bottom and sides of the mixing bowl and place the dough inside. Cover with plastic wrap and a damp kitchen towel and allow it to rest until doubled in size, 1 1/2 hours–2 hours.

Meanwhile, make the filling: in a medium saucepan, melt the butter with the cream cheese over medium heat. Stir in the brown sugar with a wire whisk. When the mixture starts to bubble, immediately remove from the heat and stir in the pecans. Set aside to cool completely.

When dough is finished rising, turn out onto a clean work surface and punch down to deflate air bubbles.

Roll the risen dough into a 10 x 20 inch rectangle on top of a piece of parchment paper. Spread the filling on half of the long side of the dough. Fold the dough in half covering the filling. Pat dough down firmly so the dough will stick together. Cut dough into three long strips. Press the tops of the strips together and braid the strips. Press the ends together at the bottom. (This will probably get messy; it’s ok, just tuck in what you can of anything that falls out.)

Gently stretch the braid so that it measures 20 inches again. Shape it into a circle/oval and press the edges together. Use the edges of the parchment paper to lift and transfer the cake to a large sheet pan (preferably one without sides). Cover with a piece of plastic wrap and a damp kitchen towel and allow to rise until puffy, about 45-50 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Whisk the one egg together with the tablespoon of water in a small bowl and brush egg wash all over the top of the cake with a pastry brush.

Bake for 45-50 minutes until golden brown. (You may have to cover it with foil if it starts to brown too quickly.) Inner temp of the bread should be 200-205 Degrees Fahrenheit. Allow to cool completely on a wire rack.

To make icing, stir powdered sugar and a few tablespoons of milk at a time together in a bowl with a fork. Add enough of the milk until it reaches the consistency that you like. Use a fork to drizzle over the top of the King Cake. Sprinkle the purple, green and yellow sanding sugar on top in a pattern. Allow to sit for about one hour until the icing has dried.

Sharing at this week’s Fiesta Friday #264, co-hosted this week by Angie and Mollie @ Frugal Hausfrau.