King Cake – A Year Later

Same recipe as last year… but I used sanding sugar from a party supply store instead of attempting to make the colors myself. We have a gas oven this year and it seems that the even distribution of heat prevented the yeast from turning the cake into a huge donut. It looks far more authentic and tastes so good!

The recipe.

Homemade King Cake 2

Homemade King Cake

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Creole-style Baked Beans

BBQ time…

This would be good paired with the Creole Potato Salad from last summer.

Creole-style Baked Beans

2-16 oz. cans of Pork & Beans or White beans
1 large red bell pepper, grated
1 large yellow onion, grated
2 toes garlic, minced fine
1/2 lb. smoked sausage or chaurice, sliced on bias
1 small can tomato sauce
2 tablespoons creole seasoning
1 tablespoon dried thyme
1/4 lb. dark brown sugar
3 strips of bacon

Set aside brown sugar and bacon. Brown sausage. Add bell pepper and onion and sauté until most of water is gone. Add garlic and tomato sauce. Add sausage/vegetable mixture to all other ingredients, mix well, and place in a lightly greased casserole dish. Lay bacon over the beans and sprinkle top with rest of the brown sugar. Bake in a 325º oven for a full hour. Remove from oven and allow beans to rest for 15 minutes. Serves 10.

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King Cake

It’s that time again. Today is the eve of King’s Day/Feast of the Epiphany/Twelfth Night/Little Christmas AKA the last day of Christmas. Tomorrow is when we take the Christmas trees and lights down and put up the Mardi Gras decorations. This year Mardi Gras is somewhat early (February 20th) so Carnival season is short and there’s less time to eat King cake. The following recipe is for a traditional King cake which is more like a sweet brioche than cake. I am no fan of the modern King cake which is at best treated like a glorified coffee cake. A few years back, we bought a king cake without knowing it was filled with cherry. Normally, I would have liked cherry coffee cake, but it was a bit like taking a drink of soda thinking it’s coke only to find out it’s root beer. I like root beer, but not when I want coke. When I was growing up, we always had the McKenzie’s or Schweggman’s King Cake which were made in the traditional style; I guess my mind is stuck on those cakes.

Traditionally the cake was baked on Epiphany Eve and served the following afternoon to family and friends. Nowadays the cake is made throughout Carnival season and served until Mardi Gras. By the Middle Ages, veneration of the three wise men had spread throughout Europe and Epiphany became known as The Feast of the Three Holy Kings. The cake was baked in honor of the Magi. According to Wikipedia, related culinary traditions are the tortell of Catalonia, the gâteau des Rois in Provence or the galette des Rois in the northern half of France. Latin Americans, like New Orleanians, place a figure representing the Christ child inside the cake. In other cultures, the king cake might contain a coin, bean, pecan or pea. In New Orleans, the person who receives the piece of cake containing a “baby” must provide the king cake for the next gathering of the season.

King Cake

King Cake

1/2 cup warm water (105 to 115 degrees)
2 packages dry yeast
2 teaspoons sugar
4 to 5 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
1/2 cup warm milk (105 to 115 degrees)
1/2 cup melted unsalted butter, cooled
5 egg yolks
1/2 cup finely chopped candied citron
1 pecan half, uncooked dried bean or King Cake Baby

Glaze:
2 cups sifted powdered sugar
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons water
Purple, green and gold sugar crystals

Combine the warm water, yeast and 2 teaspoons sugar in a small bowl. Mix well and set aside to a warm place for about 10 minutes.

Combine the 4 cups of flour, 1/2 cup sugar, salt, nutmeg, lemon rind and add warm milk, melted butter, egg yolks and yeast mixture. Beat until smooth. Turn dough out on a lightly floured surface. Knead in enough remaining flour until the dough is no longer sticky. Continue kneading until the dough is smooth and elastic (about 10 minutes). Place the dough in a well-greased bowl. Turn once so greased surface is on top. Cover the dough and let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk (about 1 1/2 hours).

Preheat the oven 350 degrees. Punch the dough down and place on a lightly floured surface. Sprinkle with the citron and knead until the citron is evenly distributed. Shape the dough into a log, about 30 inches long. Place the dough on a buttered baking sheet. Shape into a ring, pinching ends together to seal. Place a well-greased 2-pound coffee can or shortening can in the center of the ring to maintain shape during baking. Press the King Cake Baby, pecan half or dried bean into the ring from the bottom so that it is completely hidden by the dough. Cover the ring with a towel, and let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 45 minutes.

Bake for 30 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove the coffee can immediately. Allow the cake to cool. For the glaze: Combine the ingredients and beat until smooth. To assemble, drizzle cake with the glaze. Sprinkle with sugar crystals, alternating colors.

Warn your friends that there is a potential baby/bean inside so there are no broken teeth.

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Crab Boil Mashed Potatoes

With Thanksgiving coming up soon, I thought it was time to start posting à propos recipes. The following is inspired by the potatoes served before your meal at Deanie’s in Metairie. For folks not “in the know”—when it comes time to throw a seafood boil, it is customary to add corn and potatoes to the water along with the seafood and seafood boil mix to serve alongside the crabs, shrimp and crawfish. At Deanie’s, they serve these delicious potatoes as a substitute for bread before your meal arrives. By using the following method to boil your potatoes for mashing, you will give just enough zing to your mashed potatoes for some real soul.

Just my humble opinion, but Yukon Gold potatoes are the best for mashing, but some people prefer red skinned. Use appropriate mashing potatoes.

Crab Boil Mashed Potatoes

For the water:
1 package (3 oz.) Dry Crab Boil
4 quarts of water
4 tablespoons salt
1 quartered lemon
cayenne pepper to taste

3 lbs yukon gold potatoes, peeled and quartered
1 teaspoon salt
8 Tbsp heavy cream
4 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp milk
Salt and Pepper

A potato ricer, food mill or masher

Put potatoes into a large pot of crab boil water. Bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer, covered, 15-20 minutes, or until done – a fork can easily be poked through them.

Warm cream and melt butter, together, either in microwave or in a pan on the stove. Drain water from potatoes. Use ricer, mill or masher to mash potatoes into a separate bowl. Add cream and melted butter mixture. Use a strong spoon to beat further, adding milk to achieve the consistency you desire. (Do not over-beat or your potatoes will get gluey.) Salt and pepper to taste. You may add creole seasoning to taste at the end if you desire.

Serves 8.

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Creole Potato Salad

It’s the nearly the Fourth… and what do you think of besides fireworks? Picnic food! And an obvious picnic food is potato salad. One of our local grocery chains carries Creole Potato Salad at the deli counter and given my past experience with the creole/cajun moniker in the past, I was suspicious of it (to say the least)… but it’s so good! After eating heaping spoonfuls of it and breaking down what has to be its ingredient list in my head, I believe that this recipe closely approaches what our local store sells.

Creole Potato Salad (modified from Zatarain’s website)

2 ½ lbs boiled Yukon Gold or red skinned potatoes
¼ cup celery, finely diced
½ cup red or yellow onion, finely diced
1/2 medium bell pepper, finely diced
3 hard-boiled eggs, finely diced
1 teaspoon creole-style mustard
1 teaspoon chow chow (you may substitute hot dog relish or yellow mustard)
½ cup pickle relish
½ cup dill pickle, finely diced
¾ cup mayonnaise
¼ teaspoon Worchestershire sauce
creole seasoning to taste
black pepper to taste
Kosher salt to taste

Wash, peel and dice potatoes into ½ inch cubes. Cook until firm done. Pour cooked potatoes into strainer and rinse with cold water. Set aside into large mixing bowl. Prepare all chopped vegetables and add to the potatoes and mix thoroughly. Add remaining ingredients and mix for uniform consistency. Taste and adjust seasonings. Refrigerate and serve. Like all potato salads, this gets better as it sits, you may want to make it the night before your planned event. You may want to adjust seasonings one more time after the potato salad has chilled, spices tend to taste stronger when food is warm.

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Lemon Doberge Cake

Last Sunday, we made a Chocolate Doberge Cake, the gold standard by which all New Orleans Doberge cakes are held. You could also combine to make a half/half Doberge Cake like Gambino’s Bakery. Follow the same recipe for the cake as Chocolate Doberge Cake. the filling is essentially a lemon curd recipe, I would bet that a straight lemon curd would be very good in this cake. The first frosting is a simple flavored decorator’s icing.

However, the traditional Doberge Cake uses a poured fondant frosting, the kind that “snaps” under the knife, I am also including that recipe for purists. I highly suggest that you make the frosting 24 hours before you are ready to assemble your cake. It is also wise to make the filling the day before so that it is nice and chilled when you go to spread it on your cake layers. EDIT: to get the fondant frosting to stick well, many bakers will frost with another kind of frosting first. Use the first frosting recipe as a first layer and then use the poured fondant for better coverage and a more professional looking cake. No one said we didn’t like sugar in New Orleans!

Lemon Filling

1 1/2 cup sugar
6 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cup water
2 eggs, beaten
2 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons lemon peel
2/3 cup lemon juice

Mix sugar, cornstarch and salt in a saucepan and slowly add water. Bring to a boil while stirring, boil mixture for 1 minute. Add half of hot mixture to egg to temper, then blend in rest of mixture. Bring back to a boil and boil for another minute. Remove from heat and add butter, lemon peel and juice. Refrigerate before filling cake layers.

Lemon Frosting

1 box (1 lb.) confectioner’s sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon lemon extract
1/2 cup shortening
2 egg whites
pinch of salt
yellow food dye

Sift sugar and cornstarch over shortening and mix thoroughly. Blend in egg whites, salt and flavoring. You may need to add a little water to thin this out, weather and humidity can affect this frosting. Add dye at the end, add as many drops to achieve desired hue of yellow.

Poured Fondant Frosting

2-1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup corn syrup

Heat sugar, water and corn syrup to the soft-ball stage (238°F; 114°C). Pour into a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Wash the candy thermometer well and reinsert into the syrup. Let the syrup cool undisturbed in the workbowl to 140°F (60°C), about 30 minutes. Remove the thermometer.

Add any coloring or flavoring (1 to 2 teaspoons lemon oil and/or 2 teaspoons grated lemon peel, 2 to 4 ounces melted unsweetened chocolate, etc.) and process 2 to 3 minutes, until the syrup completely converts from a glassy syrup to an opaque paste. When thoroughly cooled. store sealed at room temperature for 24 hours. Use or refrigerate for later use.

Here is a picture of a cake I made recently. I used the fondant recipe for frosting and it was only 7 layers but tasted so good! I wasn’t going for looks, mainly just testing out the recipe.

Lemon Doberge Cake

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Chocolate Doberge Cake

Better known simply as birthday cake to those of us from New Orleans. I grew up hearing this pronounced alternately as “DOUGH-bash”, “Doh-BAREzh” and as “Dow-BAWHzh”. Doberge cakes are closely related to Boston Cream Pies (which aren’t pies!) and they are the closest approximation to a Doberge cake you will find outside of the Greater New Orleans area. These come as chocolate (this recipe), lemon, caramel or any two of those flavors together. Not the easiest of recipes, but if you are a good baker, this should come out excellently for you as it is a fairly standard layer cake recipe. EDIT: to get a fondant frosting to stick well, many bakers will frost with another kind of frosting first. Use this frosting recipe as a first layer and then use the poured fondant (see Lemon Doberge recipe) for better coverage and a more professional looking cake.

Chocolate Doberge Cake

Cake:

1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup shortening
2 cups sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 eggs, separated
3 cups sifted all purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup water
1 teaspoon vanilla

Filling:

2 cups sugar
10 tablespoons cornstarch
2 teaspoons salt
1 quart milk
2 teaspoons vanilla
4 squares unsweetened chocolate, chopped
2 whole eggs and 4 yolks, slightly beaten

Frosting:

1/2 cup butter
8 squares unsweetened chocolate
1/2 cup boiling water
4 cups sifted confectioner’s sugar

Cake: Cream butter, shortening, sugar and salt together until smooth. Add egg yolks and blend mixture until smooth. Add sifted dry ingredients alternately with milk and water and beat until well blended. Be careful not to overbeat, you don’t want to overactivate the gluten and make a tough cake. Add vanilla and fold in stiffly beaten egg whites. Grease 9-inch cake pans and line with wax paper. Pour 3/4 cup batter into each pan, spreading evenly over bottom. Bake in preheated 375 degree; oven for 12-15 minutes. Repeat process until all of batter is used. The result will be 8 layers. When cool, put layers together with filling, reserving the top layer for the frosting. Chill cake before frosting.

Filling: Mix sugar, cornstarch, salt, milk and chocolate. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly. Boil 1 1/2 minutes. Remove from heat and pour a small amount of mixture over the eggs to temper them. Blend into mixture and cook over very low heat, add vanilla. Chill until set.

Frosting: Melt butter and chocolate over very low heat, use a double boiler if you have one. Blend in sugar and water, beat until smooth. Frost top and sides of cake.

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