Mardi Gras King Cake with Ambrosia Apple Filling
Inspired by our trip to New Orleans I decided to add another tradition to our family Easter holiday. We’ve been suffering through the coldest winter on record (that I can remember) so I decided we could afford a colourful splurge to brighten our days; I decided to bake a King Cake. In the middle of winter pantry basics like flour, sugar, and butter are always available but I wanted my King Cake to have a little bit more interest so I decided to fill it with B.C. Ambrosia apples. Lucky for us chilly Canadians B.C. apples are a ‘local’ fruit that keep well and baking with apples always makes me relive those glorious crisp cool days in the fall where the arrival of some late day sunshine was more than a distant memory.
I hit upon an interesting looking recipe on Allrecipes.com that seemed to have some great reviews. After reading the recipe I realized the dough was really similar to that used to make cinnamon buns. I was a bit hesitant to use the recipe as the King Cakes we had tried in NOLA had more of an airy texture, almost in between a dough and a pastry…maybe more like brioche. Anyway I went ahead with the recipe, making adjustments because I had accidentally bought ‘Quick Rise’ yeast instead of the regular kind. Don’t you hate that when you do that? Or am I the only one that does this?
I started out by scalding the milk and adding the butter as shown, but then I also added the 2/3 cup of warm water that I would have used to proof the regular yeast. Since quick rise yeast does not need proofing, I added it directly to the dry ingredients and then gradually added the wet ingredients after they had cooled to a temperature between 120 and 130 F (okay..132F!)Then I kneaded the dough for about 8 minutes and let it sit for about 15. While the dough was resting I peeled, cored, and chopped some Ambrosia apples. I mixed them with some flour, butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon and let them cook in a pan for about 10 minutes until they were a bit soft. By then the dough was ready so I rolled it out like I would a regular cinnamon bun dough. I tried to make it a bit longer and narrower since I knew I would have to connect the ends together to make a circle. I added the filling in one long line along the bottom of the dough then rolled the dough up over to cover. I had huge problems with the filling wanting to escape out the ends and that certainly made it difficult to seal the dough ring. I let the dough ring rise for another 15 minutes, made a few slashes on the top, then baked it at 375 F for 30 minutes. While the cake cooled I made up a simple glaze with icing sugar and water and poured it over the warm cakes.I let the glaze harden for a while then attempted to apply the green, purple, and yellow pearl dust using a brush. It took me quite a while to realize what I was doing wasn’t working…these cakes sure didn’t look the same as the ones we had in NOLA. I finally googled ‘how to apply pearl dust to royal icing’ and saw that all I needed was a few drops of lemon juice to make the pearl dust more like a pearl paint. By then, the fading afternoon sun showed that my kitchen was filled with magical glittering edible dust. I do think this was the most fun I’d had baking in a long time! Kid number two came into the kitchen to help paint the other king cake while I took some pictures.
King Cake with Ambrosia Apple Filling
I cup milk
1/4 cup butter
2/3 cup warm water
4 1/2 tsp quick rise yeast
1/2 cup white sugar
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
5 1/2 cups all purpose flour
Instruction in body of blog post above.
3 Ambrosia Apples; peeled, cored, and diced
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 cup flour
2/3 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup melted butter
Place all ingredients in a pot and cook with lid on until apples are soft.
1 cup icing sugar
1 tbsp of water, or more as needed to make the icing a touch runny.