Monday, March 04, 2019

Molly Yeh: Praline King Cake

Every year around this time, I tell myself that I should make a king cake.  I even had the recipe all picked out.  But something about this time of year tends to make the days seem short and unpleasant (maybe it's the weather?), so it had never materialized.  I finally got my butt in gear this year, though, and now I'm sorry I waited.  Not a big fan of cinnamon, I decided a praline cake was the way to go.  This thing is fantastic - a not-too-sweet bread with a caramelized pecan filling.  And the ridiculous amount of sugar on top didn't even seem out of place.  Baby not included.

Praline King Cake
Adapted from Molly Yeh

¾ cup warm whole milk (100°F-110°F)
2¼ teaspoons or one packet dry yeast
6 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2 large egg yolks
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon sea salt

Filling and topping:
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese
1 cup packed light brown sugar
2 tablespoons praline liquor (optional)
1 cup toasted pecans, coarsely chopped
1 plastic baby
2 cups powdered sugar
3 tablespoons whole milk
Sanding sugar in yellow, green, and purple

Combine the warm milk, yeast, and 1 teaspoon of sugar and let proof. While yeast is proofing, whisk together the butter, egg yolks, and vanilla extract. In a large bowl or bowl of a stand mixer, combine remaining 6 tablespoons sugar, flour, nutmeg, and salt.

When the yeast mixture is foamy, add that and the butter mixture to the dry ingredients. Mix to combine. Using a dough hook, or kneading by hand on a floured surface, work the dough (adding flour as needed) for 5 to 7 minutes until you have a smooth dough. Transfer dough to a greased bowl, cover with a damp towel, and let rise for two hours, until doubled in size. Begin making the filling as soon as the dough begins rising.

In a large sauce pan, melt together the butter and cream cheese. Stir in the brown sugar and praline liquor, if using, and continue stirring until the mixture starts to bubble. Remove it from heat, stir in the pecans, and then set it aside to cool while the dough finishes rising.

When the dough is finished rising, transfer it to a large piece of parchment paper and roll it out to a 9- x 13-inch rectangle. Spread the filling on evenly, leaving an inch along one of the long sides so that the filling doesn't ooze out. Starting opposite of that end, roll up the dough like a jelly roll, sticking the baby in somewhere in the middle.

Grease an empty 28-ounce can and place it in the center of a large baking sheet that's been lined with parchment. Gently wrap the dough roll around the can, seam side down, and pinch the ends well. Let rise for another half an hour.

Preheat oven to 375°F. Once the cake has gone through its second rising, bake for 30 to 40 minutes, until the cake is a nice brown color. Remove the can as soon as the cake comes out of the oven. Let the cake cool completely before decorating.

To make the glaze, whisk together the powdered sugar and milk. If the consistency is too thick for your taste, add more milk a little bit at a time until it reaches the desired consistency. Once the cake is out of the oven and cooled, pour on the the glaze and then sprinkle with colored sanding sugar.

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