Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Asheville Bed and Breakfast Celebrates Mardi Gras with a "King Cake"

If you happen to be from Louisiana, with a lifetime of Mardi Gras connection and lore, you probably know exactly what I'm talking about. "King Cake"? But even if you have not heard about the tradition of the green, gold, and purple- frosted, silver and gold sprinkled, braided coffee-cake style delight, welcome to that club! And the Mardi Gras 'purists' will tell you that there's a small plastic baby(no kidding) put into the cake before it's baked...so somebody gets the piece with the baby in it...for luck.

But no matter, in the quest to make cooking fun, at this Asheville Bed and Breakfast we will try this today, today only... for Fat Tuesday... for Mardi Gras. I've heard that it may be even more fun to make than to eat, so to make it more interesting, here's a slightly different take on the Mardi Gras "King Cake". This one is gluten-free!

The words 'gluten-free' may surprise you here. Surely the traditions of "Fat Tuesday" does not normally carry with it the worry about the healthiness of anything that you eat or drink today! But if you have gluten sensitivity, and many of us do (and others of us do, but may not know it), we think that you should not have to give up sampling the wonders of regional American cooking.

So, roll up your sleeves and get out: a baking sheet, clean kitchen cloth, plastic wrap, food
colors, and 'sprinkles' and...
For the cake:

1 cup warm water
1 Tablespoon dry active yeast
1 Tablespoon sugar
Mix these together, let stand for about 15 minutes, until doubled in volume.

4 1/2 cups Gluten-free , all-purpose baking flour, plus extra for the work surface and
dusting the tube pan before baking (Available at many supermarkets and at
healthfood stores)Or, if you prefer, look up gluten-free flours you may combine
including rice flour, tapioca, potato starch and corn flour to create your own.
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon cinnamon
Pulse in food processor to combine

1/2 cup sugar
1 stick butter at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
Mix together using stand mixer until fluffy

5 egg yolks
Add egg yolks to sugar mixture, one at a time and mix thoroughly

Gradually add egg/sugar mixture to flour mix. Process until course.
Add yeast mixture and pulse 8 times or more until dough forms a ball.
(If mixture is too dry, add water 1 T. at a time/If too sticky, add 1T. at
a time.) Transfer to oiled bowl, cover with a cloth and let sit in warm, dry
place for at least 2 hours, or until doubled in volume.

Lightly butter baking sheets. Lightly your work surface. Punch the dough down
a couple of times to flatten it. Divide into 3 equal parts. Roll out each piece
one at a time, to approx 12"by 4 " and about 1/2" high.
Roll into a log/cylinder shape, starting at the long side of the rectangle. Press dough edge
together gently to seal.
Braid the 2 pieces together, then shape entire piece into a circle. Gently seal dough ends.
Place dough on the large, greased baking sheet. Cover circle with plastic wrap and let
stand in warm place about 45 minutes, until it about doubles in volume.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Remove plastic wrap, and brush cake with egg wash: Whisk one egg white and 1T. milk.

Bake 35-45 minutes, until golden brown (using 'instant-read' thermometer:200-210)
Transfer to wire cooling rack; cool completely.

For icing: 4 cups confectioners sugar and one stick (8 T.) softened butter. Beat a low
speed until it's smooth. Then mix in juice of 3 freshly squeezed lemons.

Divide icing into 3 bowls: Color one with green food color
Color one with yellow food color
Color one with red/blue mix to create purple
Drizzle each color icing over a portion of the cake to make 'striped' effect.
Sprinkle with silver or other colored sprinkles....now...

At this Asheville Bed and Breakfast, today we will "Laissez les bon temps roulez"! Let the good times roll! Wher'r'yat?!

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