Mardi Flaw: Better Late Than Never

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I know, I know.  Fat Tuesday has come and gone, and this post would have been better if I uploaded it a week or so ago.  However, I’d like to share something with you my face-to-face friends and family members are already well aware of:  I’m perpetually late. I don’t mean to be disrespectful, nor do I believe my time is more valuable than yours.  I always start out with the best intentions, and then before you know it…BLAM! I’m late!  Take this post for example.  I made the King Cake pictured here on January 6th.  I wanted to give myself plenty of time to do all the crazy things I usually do with pictures and whatnot.  You are all witnesses to how well that strategy worked for me.  

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Never mind, scratch that.  I’m not late for Mardi Gras 2014.  I’m early for Mardi Gras 2015.  That’s right, the fact that the word “awesome” ends in ME isn’t just a coincidence, friends.  Now, time for me to get this Mardi started so you can get your Mardi on.

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INGREDIENTS

PASTRY:

  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 2 (1/4 ounce pkgs /0.50 oz total) packages active dry yeast
  • 2/3 cup warm water
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoons salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • ½ tsp allspice
  • 5 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • Zest of 1 lemon

 FILLING:

  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 + ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 2/3 cup chopped pecans (or nut of choice)
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1/2 cup melted butter

 FROSTING:

  • 2 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 3 TBSP heavy cream (can sub 1-3 TBSP milk or water)
  • 1 tsp vanilla (or ½ tsp vanilla + ½ tsp almond or lemon extract)

*King cake baby or a whole walnut/pecan

*Colored sugars or dyes in the following colors:  Yellow (symbolizes power), Purple (symbolizes justice) and Green (symbolizes faith).  You can also use sprinkles, crushed jolly ranchers or suckers.

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*if you aren’t a fan of sugar crystals on top of sugar glaze, separate frosting into 3 bowls and add a few drops of food coloring to each bowl, making purple, green and gold glazes.  Just be sure to account for the added liquid the dye adds to the glaze when determining consistency.  Otherwise, you could get trapped in the viscous circle that has gotten us all at least once in our cooking lives.  “It’s too thin!  It’s too thick! Now it’s too thin again!  GREAT AND NOW IT’S TOO THICK!!!”  I fell into that trap once, and before I knew it I had used almost 8 lbs of confectioner’s sugar. I was glazing everything that week, and I still had buckets to spare.  Incidentally, this is how I realized glaze doesn’t hold up so well when stored in the fridge.  Obviously, the folks in the European Union who decided to give Nokia a $1.3 billion research grant to commercialize graphene (aka the “new” strongest substance known to man) haven’t been to dinner at my house. If they had, instead of writing this blog article I would be busy spending my research grant money.  I wouldn’t be spending it trying to figure out commercial uses for my titanium icing; I’d have to conquer that beast later.  First I would have to discover a substance even stronger than the icing to make it possible for me to get it out of the container I stored it in.  I’m not even kind of exaggerating when I say that I could have created a life-sized replica of Stonehenge with that stuff that would be strong enough to sustain a direct hit from a nuclear bomb.  Yessiree, millions of years in the future, long after humans have evolved into some kind of walking catfish that can fly and breathe fire, they would have found my Sugarhenge creation, scratched their scaly bald heads and speculated about the effigy I created in homage to the great Sugar God so many of our species willingly sacrificed their bodies and health for. Just think, I could have achieved my lifelong goal to be cool and it would only have taken a few million years to do it.  Wow, how the hell did I stray this far off topic?  I must have ADHD as well as OCD, which is a pretty good explanation as to why I have a deep seeded need to be perfect but not for very long.

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DIRECTIONS:

  1. Scald milk, remove from heat and stir in 1/4 cup of butter. Allow mixture to cool to room temperature. In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in the warm water with 1 tablespoon of the white sugar. Let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes.
  2. When yeast mixture is bubbling, add the cooled milk mixture. Whisk in the eggs. Stir in the remaining white sugar, salt, lemon zest, allspice and nutmeg. Beat the flour into the milk/egg mixture 1 cup at a time. When the dough has pulled together, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 8 to 10 minutes.
  3. Lightly oil a large bowl, place the dough in the bowl and turn to coat with oil. Cover with a damp cloth or plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, about 2 hours. When risen, punch down and divide dough in half.
  4. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  Grease 2 cookie sheets or line with parchment paper.
  5. To Make Filling: Combine the brown sugar, ground cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, chopped pecans (nuts), 1/2 cup flour and 1/2 cup raisins. Pour 1/2 cup melted butter into the mixture and mix until crumbly.
  6. Roll dough halves out into large rectangles and sprinkle the filling evenly over the dough and roll up each half tightly like a jelly roll, beginning at the wide side. Bring the ends of each roll together to form 2 oval shaped rings. Place each ring on a prepared cookie sheet (note:  you may place a well greased oven-safe dish or can in the center of the ring to maintain the center hole). Score the roll 1/3 of the way through the rings every 2 – 3 inches. Press the baby/nut into the bottom of the pastry.  Let rise in a warm spot until doubled in size, about 45 minutes – 1 ½ hours.
  7. Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes. Make the frosting by putting the confectioners’ sugar into a bowl and add the extracts and 1 TBSP of the milk/cream.  Continue to add the milk/cream until it reaches a glaze-like consistency. Drizzle over the pastry while it is still warm and sprinkle with the colored sugar.

Thanks for stopping by!  Now I’ve got St. Patty’s day to be late for.

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Yours ‘Til The Kitchen Sinks,

Steph

MILB

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