Wednesday, March 12, 2014


unless you have been hibernating, you know that we've recently celebrated mardi gras.  we had a party the prior saturday evening with friends, including extended-weekend-guest-longtime-friend shari, whom i would like to thank for providing me with most of the lovely photos for this post.  i thought about ordering a king cake the wednesday before because i got a late start.  when i realized it would cost more to ship the cake than to purchase it, i turned to trusty google to find me a recipe.  "i can do this!" i willed myself to embrace the opportunity to do something new.


my major concern was using yeast.  i do not typically bake things with yeast.  i'm more of a baking powder kind of gal.  my typical breads are sweet and dense and cake-like.  the one thing i have made using yeast is my family's recipe for greek easter bread, and i haven't done it in ages because of moving or weather or mood or personal intimidation, even though my parents have consistently complimented me on my breads.  actually, i also made pan de muerto with yeast but it only worked out well the very first time i made it and subsequent years have resulted in such disasters that i have earned a reputation for failure, as far as diana is concerned.  steve is the bread and roll and pizza dough maker in our family, the master of the bread machine.  (seriously, he makes such an excellent pizza dough that it pains me to purchase it elsewhere.)

i found a recipe that suggested the bread machine would do all the hard work of mixing and kneading the dough, which is really the hardest part for me and takes a toll on my hands and wrists and forearms.  sure, i'll give it a shot.  besides, shari would be with me and help ensure i didn't mess up.

the recipe i used was this one, only i substituted the fresh zest of an entire orange instead of the measured amount from a lemon.  and it worked!  once i understood how to layer the ingredients into the bread machine in a particular order and make the little well for the yeast on top, the bread machine did its part beautifully.  the whole house smelled of orange and it reminded me so much of the heady scent of easter bread dough.

and the dough rose, just as promised.  and i formed it into a twisted ring and it rose again, as promised.


i debated whether to add the egg-white-and-milk wash over the top before baking.  i was concerned it would become too brown.  but, i was trying a new recipe and didn't trust myself to deviate too much.  i know better now.  i took the bread out of the oven after baking and was awash in horror as i saw the utter brownness of it.  my reaction might have been exacerbated by the new orleans hand grenade cocktail i had already begun consuming.

it didn't help that diana came and asked what i had done to it, and ander declined to even try it, though he loves bready products of all kinds.

sigh.  i complained and fretted for a while, with shari trying valiantly to convince me that it would probably taste just fine.  at least, i thought, i could cover up most of the brown with the sugary icing and sprinkles.  i had located green spinkles and gold sprinkles but no purple.  i did have purple icing color, though, and stirred it into the confectioner's sugar and milk.  it was purple.  not lavender or lilac.  it was violent violet.  amethyst with an attitude.

and i made it runny.  too runny.

forget images of purple mountains majesty.  i had created a volcanic lava flow.

to add insult to injury, i sprinkled on the green and gold, which, in the depth of my personal color purple, became muddied and obscure.  no glitter here.  this was a fiasco.  instead of a cheery, happy, confection-of-my-dreams, it was a somber, sad mess.

well, in shari's photo, she managed to make it look a little glittery
all was not lost, however.  evan's grandmother had shipped him a king cake from new orleans, so he brought that, and, when i went to the store to pick up our steamed crawfish, i discovered that their bakery had made actual king cakes.  they knew what they were doing. so i had to get one just in case mine was, well, sad.  perfect set-up for a taste test!

the shipped cake

the store cake

shari got the baby in her slice


diana agreed that this would be a definite contender for cake wrecks because of how it looked.  but shari was right, it did taste good.  and it tasted really good when i made a second one without the dreadful egg wash or the icing.

i win at king cake.  maybe not the first time around, but that's good enough for me.

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