Thursday, January 17, 2019

It's Carnival Time

Did you know that Mardi Gras isn't just one day; it's a season!  It begins on 12th night, or January 6th, and last through Fat Tuesday, the day before Ash Wednesday.  Louisiana is probably best known for two things:  food and Mardi Gras!!  Put the two together and you have a Mardi Gras KING CAKE!



King Cakes come in all kinds of variations and flavors.  Just about all the bakeries and grocery stores around here sell King Cakes all Mardi Gras season.  The donut places usually use donut dough to make theirs.  While they aren't bad at all, a giant donut isn't a real king cake.  Some of the grocery store cakes are too dry and bread-like for me.  Some are filled with cream cheese, strawberry, bavarian cream, etc.  Some of them are overkill - just too much goo in the middle.  Some have too much crunchy sugar sprinkled on top.   I like a little bit of filling or just plain - cinnamon and sugar is sweet enough for me.  Icing/glaze only - no grainy sugar.

Anyway, I follow a cooking guy on Facebook who calls himself the "Cajun Ninja."  He made a King Cake from scratch and I decided to give it a go.  It was not hard, but it is a little time consuming. 

(You can find his King Cake video here )

The only changes I made was in one of the King Cakes I did add a cream cheese filling (softened cream cheese and sugar.)  I also added a few pecans.  I made my own glaze as I don't care for the one here.  (melt butter on the stove, add powdered sugar, bit of milk until the desired consistency, and almond extract.)  We also don't like all that crunchy sugar on top so I left that off.











KING CAKE

THE DOUGH

6 Cups of All Purpose Flour
2 (1/4 oz) Envelopes of Active Dry Yeast
1/2 Cup of Lukewarm Water
1/2 Cup of Sugar
1/2 Tablespoon of Salt
1 Stick of Salted Butter
1 (8 oz) Block of Cream Cheese
1 Cup of Whole Milk
2 Eggs
*Makes enough for 2 King Cakes*

THE FILLING
1/3 Cup of Light Brown Sugar
1/3 Cup of White Sugar
2 Tablespoons of Cinnamon
1/2 Stick of Butter Melted
*For 2 King Cakes Double Filling Amounts*

THE TOPPING
1 Cup of Confectioners Sugar
2 Tablespoons of Milk
Purple Sanding Sugar
Gold Sanding Sugar
Green Sanding Sugar
*For 2 King Cakes Double Topping Amounts*

Start out by heating a small pot on a simmering heat.
Melt the Butter and Cream cheese in the pot.
Add the Yeast and a Spoonful of the Sugar to the 1/2 Cup of Water. Let sit for at least 10 Minutes
Add the rest of the 1/2 Cup of Sugar and Salt to the melted Cream Cheese and Butter.
Once you have a creamy consistency, add the Cup of Milk, stir, and turn the heat off.
Add the mixture to a mixing bowl and let cool down before adding the Yeast.
Once the mixture has cooled down add the Yeast and Eggs.
Attach a dough kneader to mixer and turn mixer on to a low setting.
Add the flour to the mixer and mix for about 5 minutes.
If you do not have a dough kneader attachment, then mix by hand until the dough has a smooth look.
Grease a large bowl, place the dough in that bowl, cover with a damp towel, and let sit for 2 hours.
When the 2 hour mark is up on the dough, blend the 1/3 Cup of Brown Sugar, 1/3 Cup of White Sugar, and 2 Tablespoons of Cinnamon. Set aside.
Punch out the dough a couple times and cut into equal halves.
*If you plan to make two King Cakes, be sure to double filling and topping ingredients.*
If you’re only making one, you can vacuum seal the other half and place in the freezer.
Place one half of the dough on a large floured surface.
Flip on both sides so that all sides of dough are floured.
Roll the dough into a rectangle shape measuring out to about 2 & 1/2 foot by 1 & 1/2 foot.
Begin spreading the melted butter on to the flattened dough. You should have a enough left to spread on the top of the King Cake before baking.
Spread the sugar and cinnamon mixture all over the top of the flattened dough.
Afterwards roll the dough into the form of a jelly roll.
Layer a pan with parchment paper and spray with nonstick cooking spray.
Gently place the roll on the parchment paper. Tuck the bottoms and connect the ends. Pinch the dough all the way around so that ends are fully connected.
Cover with a damp towel, and let sit for 40 minutes.
At this time preheat your oven to 350°
After 40 minuets is up, spread the rest of the melted butter over the dough. You may have to reheat the butter.
Place in the oven, and let bake for 30-40 minutes, depending on the calibration of your oven. Just be on the look out for a light golden color.
While the king cake is baking, mix together the confectioners sugar and milk into a creamy consistency.
When the King Cake is done baking, you’ll want to be quick. So have all your sugars ready.
The easiest way would be to spread some of the icing in sections, immediately adding the sugar on top of each section. If you happen to add icing and it hardens before you add sugar, just tap it with your fingers and the icing should open up.
Spread sugar in Sections of Purple, Gold, and Green.
Once done, let sit for about 5 minutes, cut a slice, and enjoy!

Tuesday, January 01, 2019

2019

I am not religious much at all, but this might fit for 2019.

I've been thinking about what my goals should be for 2019.  I'm always trying to make little improvements - keep the house up better, cook different meals, shop smarter, etc.  Little things add up to a lot and keep things happier around the household.  Or so I'd like to think.

Change is hard.  It takes effort and time.   Every year lots of people set out to make changes in their lives.  New year, fresh start.  Some succeed but more often than not, we eventually return to old habits. 

Some things though, just won't change.  No matter how hard YOU try, the change is dependent on factors out of your control.  The promises to do better last about a day or two, then old patterns start again.  At what point do you accept that the change you are working towards isn't coming?   I feel so alone in my own house at times because so often I'm the only one who notices or cares to do anything.  I come up with ideas, places to go, things to do...   and here we sit -alone- because no one else wants to join in the effort to make it happen.  It's me, all me, or nothing.   I'm here, wanting to go on adventures and have happy fun, and it feels like dragging everyone else through mud trying to convince them to come along.  It's waiting for the right time to do something while time just passes us by and one day it will be too late.  I am tired and sad, and tired of feeling that way.

I think maybe in 2019...  maybe I will focus more on me.  Do a little more things for me. The kids are older and can fend for themselves a bit better.  I will work on accepting how some things are and focus less on what I can or can't do about it.  "Accept the things you cannot change." 

Today also marks the end of Holidailies.  I hope you all enjoyed my daily ramblings.  I missed a few days but I caught up and managed 32 entries in the past month. 

Until next time....  whenever that may be....    Happy 2019 everybody. 

Fireworks at midnight

Fireworks were illegal in Morgan City where I grew up.  At most, I have a faint memory of my Dad taking me to the levee to pop firecrackers once or twice.   Even after living here for 15 years, it's still somewhat of a novelty to me.  Pretty much anything goes here in Lafourche Parish and my neighbors put on quite a show!

New Year's Eve, 2018.  Bayou Blue, Louisiana