Carnival and Mardi Gras in New Orleans is never complete without its signature pastry, the king cake. I always enjoy hearing about the culture associated with food, and boy do people love their king cake in New Orleans. Interesting fact: In the 2006 Mardi Gras season immediately following Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans received a huge number of orders for king cake from both in and out of the state. Many people who were displaced by the hurricane turned to king cake to hang on to tradition and get a taste of home. It also raised the spirits of the city to see the rest of the US come together and support them.
Depending on where you go, you’ll see various iterations of king cake and fervent supporters of each kind. I personally find the traditional king cake a little boring so 2 of my favorites are an apple and goat cheese version from Cake Cafe and a bananas foster version from Domenica.
Without further adieu, here’s the recipe for the apple and goat cheese king cake we created in pastry class with Chef Miscovich. This guy is a pastry and bread genius so I am not even going to pretend to know exactly what he did to the dough we used. All I know is that we used a brioche dough and there are many recipes for it.
Apple and Goat Cheese King Cake
- Brioche dough
- Egg wash
For the filling:
- Granny Smith apples 3, peeled, cored, sliced
- Goat cheese 1 block
- Cinnamon 1-2 tbsp, ground
- Brown sugar 2-3 tbsp
For the glaze
- Powdered sugar sifted
- Food coloring yellow, green, purple
- Porcelain/Plastic baby
- Place apples slices in large bowl with brown sugar and cinnamon (you can add more or less of each depending on if you like more tartness or more cinnamon). Toss and coat slices well.
- Take goat cheese and a little bit of milk and mix it up using a mixer. This makes the goat cheese softer and more easily spreadable.
- Roll out brioche dough to a roughly 10×24 inch rectangular shape (shape does not have to be perfect because we will trim later) and about 3 mm thickness. You should have the long side facing you.
- Spread goat cheese evenly on dough stopping 1 inch from the top (we will egg wash this part to glue it all together after rolling).
- Lay spiced apple slices in an even layer on top of goat cheese.
- Egg wash the top 1 inch strip of the dough.
- Begin rolling the dough as tightly as you can toward the top of the rectangle. By the end of this, you should end up with a cylinder of dough with the apple and goat cheese wrapped inside. Keep the seem facing down.
- Roll out the cylinder of dough a bit more and try to lengthen it. Trim off any rougher ends with a bench scraper/knife and shape into a circle.
- Use egg wash to “glue” the two ends together.
- Allow the dough to sit and proof for 45-60 min somewhere warm while you work on the glaze
- Mix your sifted powdered sugar with a little bit of milk and whisk. I can’t give you the exact ratios to use but be warned that a little milk goes a long way. By the end of this process, you should have a white glaze about the consistency of molasses. Divide the glaze into 3 bowls and add your purple, green, and yellow food coloring* (we used the industry stuff. The little droppers are weaksauce) and whisk well.
- By this time, your cake should be looking a bit poofier and got some nice texture.Egg wash the top of the entire cake and put it in the oven at 350 degrees** for 10 minutes until outside of a nice amber brown. Drop the temperature to 325 and bake for another 20 minutes.
- Take the king cake out of the oven and let it cool.
- Stick the toy baby into the cake as surreptitiously as you can and put on the glaze. I just took a whisk and dipped it in each bowl and drizzled it along the cake. If it doesn’t look like a jester vomited on it, you didn’t do it right. Mardi Gras is a party after all.
- Slice and enjoy! Whoever ends up with the baby is supposed to buy/make the next king cake for the group.
Laissez les bon temps roulez!
*If you don’t want to use food coloring, it is perfectly reasonable to just glaze the top of the king cake with white glaze. Some people used colored sugar on top of the glaze to create the vibrant green, yellow, purple colors. Personally, I do not find the large grains of colored sugar texturally pleasant.
**We were fortunate to have the use of a really legit oven in the classroom for this project that allowed us much better control of temperature. If you want to make things easier, you can just bake the king cake at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes. I later found out the reason we dropped the temperature partway through the process is because pastries with a lot of sugar tend to brown very quickly and easily. If we had kept the temperature at 350 the entire time, the cake would have come out a darker brown than we wanted.