Cinnamon Sugar King Cake
Cinnamon flavor has become the equivalent of “plain” king cake in most South Louisiana bakeries. This version starts with a rich brioche dough that, if you wanted a truly plain cake, could surely stand alone without any special flavorings. However, if you want a filled king cake, just use the technique below and instead of spreading cinnamon sugar over half the dough, spread a thin layer of sweetened cream cheese, a few dollops of your favorite pie filling, or a layer of caramel sauce studded with toasted pecans.
Serves 12 to 15
For the dough:
- 2 packages active dry yeast
- 1/2 cup lukewarm water
- 5 cups sifted all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup white sugar
- Pinch nutmeg
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1/2 cup lukewarm milk
- 3 eggs
- 2 egg yolks
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons softened butter, divided
For the filling:
- 1 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
- 1 1/2 tablespoon cinnamon
- 6 tablespoons melted butter
For the glaze:
- 2 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar
- 3 tablespoons heavy cream
- 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Purple, gold, and green sugar
Dissolve yeast in water.
Combine flour, sugar, nutmeg, and salt in a large mixing bowl. Whisk until smooth. Make a well in the center and pour in the yeast mixture and milk. Add eggs, egg yolks, and vanilla. Stir with a wooden spoon until dry and liquid ingredients have been combined.
Using a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, beat in 1/2 cup of the butter. Continue beating until dough forms a ball. Flour the dough lightly and let rest for 10 minutes. Then knead with a dough hook (or by hand) until it is smooth and stretchy.
Coat the inside of another bowl with 1 tablespoon butter. Place the dough in the bowl and turn it to coat with butter. Cover and let stand 1 1/2 hours or until doubled in size.
Butter a baking sheet with the remaining tablespoon butter.
Punch down the dough, then place on a lightly floured surface. Roll the dough out into a long, wide rectangle.
Combine the brown sugar, cinnamon, and melted butter for the filling. Spread the filling on one half of the rectangle lengthwise. Fold the uncovered side of the dough over the filling and press to sandwich it. Cut the now smaller rectangle into three long strips. Braid the strips together, then arrange the long braid into a circle or oval on the buttered baking sheet.
Press a charm (assuming it is heatproof) or dried bean into the dough from the bottom or inside of the ring. Set the cake aside for about an hour to let it rise again.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
When cake has doubled in size, bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven and allow to cool.
Mix together confectioners’ sugar, cream, and vanilla to form a smooth glaze. When king cake is at room temperature, spoon white glaze evenly over the top and let drip down the sides. Take dyed sugars and sprinkle across the ring, alternating colors in wide stripes.