King Cake – Babka Almond

2011-03-07

This year we are attempting three versions of king cake recipes. The styles range from traditional braided style to cupcake. Fillings also vary from cream cheese or simply almonds where many would say a traditional cake should not have any. This recipe was simple but time consuming as most yeast breads. My only disappointment was the icing, as I would have preferred to make it thicker and perhaps color it. So can anyone tell me why these are called cakes when they are actually just large pastry/bread rings?



Recipe

For the cake
2 tablespoons dry active yeast
3/4 cup lukewarm milk
1 teaspoon sugar
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature or melted and slightly cooled
2 tablespoons vegetable oil, plus more for greasing the bowl and baking sheet
6 tablespoons sugar
4 large egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 1/2 cups flour, plus more for the work surface
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup sliced or slivered almonds, toasted
Heatproof gold coin or toy baby(optional)
For the egg wash
1 large egg white
2 tablespoons water
For the glaze
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons of milk (more if needed)
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
Colored sugar, for garnish (optional)

Instructions:

CAKE -Stir in one teaspoon sugar into lukewarm milk in a bowl; Whisk in the yeast let it sit for about 5-10 minutes.

Combine the butter, oil and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer. Beat on low speed, then increase the speed to medium and beat until the mixture is smooth.

Reduce the speed to low again and add the yolks to the bowl one at a time, beating for 30 seconds between each addition. Save one egg white for the wash later. Add the vanilla extract and mix until light and fluffy. Turn off the mixer.

Slowly add the flour and salt, then the milk yeast mixture. Beat on low speed or stir by hand for 2 to 3 minutes to form a soft dough. Change from the paddle attachment to a dough hook and knead the dough on low speed for about 2 minutes The dough should be supple and soft. Form it into a ball and place it in a lightly grease a large bowl. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and let it rise at room temperature for about 2 1/2 hours. Do not worry if it is not double in size.

Once the dough has risen, roll it out into a 15-inch square with a thickness of about 1/4 inch. Make sure to keep it dusted well with flour on the bottom so it does not stick.

Sprinkle the toasted almonds evenly over the dough. Roll the sheet of dough like a jelly roll (rolling from one of the long sides), then pinch the seams to seal it. Gently stretch and roll to form a log that is about 24 inches long. Cut the log down the middle lengthwise, making sure not to cut through one end. Some of the almonds may spill out but you can throw them on top of the icing later. Twist the 2 halves over each other to achieve a braided look.

Grease a rimmed baking sheet with a little oil. Loop the dough to form a circle, shaping it so it has slightly squared corners. Insert a heatproof gold coin or toy baby deep into the dough. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let the dough rise at room temperature for about 2 hours or until it is 1 1/2 times its original size. At this point, the dough is ready for baking, or it can be covered and refrigerated overnight.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

For the egg wash: Whisk together the egg white and water in a liquid measuring cup. Use a pastry brush to coat the surface of the dough with the egg wash.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, then rotate the baking sheet from front to back and bake for about 10 minutes, until the cake is golden brown and sounds hollow when thumped on the top.

Let the cake cool on the baking sheet for 30 minutes, then use a round-edged knife to dislodge it if needed; transfer the cake to a wire rack to cool completely.

King Cake Babka Almond

For the glaze: Place the confectioners’ sugar in a medium bowl. Whisk in just enough of the light corn syrup and extract of your choice to form a smooth, barely pourable glaze. Use an offset knife to paint or spread the glaze on top of the cooled cake, preferably in wide swaths. Sprinkle with colored sugar, if desired.

Let the icing set before serving.

Source: Adapted from Reinhart’s “Artisan Breads Every Day” (Ten Speed Press, 2009). Washington Post

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