King’s Cake and hot cocoa

Last week in my column, I talked about King’s Cake and the Epiphany and I promised you that this week I would give you the recipe.
My week was not much different than it usually is; first week of the month is always about meetings! I did opt out of one on Wednesday evening, I don’t like to drive at night and since the couple I attend with live as many miles east of Yoakum as I live west of Yoakum we meet at the hospital, as I feel safe leaving my car parked there. However, this means they have to leave home a little earlier to pick me up, an then after we get back, usually after 9:00 p.m., I have to drive home in a certain amount of traffic. Last time, I decided to go home, what I consider the “back way”, outskirts of town, country road, etc. Little did I know that not only had it rained while we were gone, since they were working on this road and I had to drive slowly, and when I looked at my car the next morning, it was covered in caliche dirt. What a mess, thanks to a son-in-law and his friend who came down a few days later, it was washed and clean before they went back home. The rest of last week was either rainy, cold, both or extremely foggy, which it is right now a little after 10 on Saturday morning.
This past Thursday, I had the pleasure of spending part of the day with some cousins that I don’t see very often, two of them came in from Houston, and the other came in from San Antonio. We had a great time visiting and then went out for lunch at a small, but historical, restaurant in Shiner, TX. There is a historical marker out front telling the story about this restaurant and how it started. The name of it is “Sunken Garden”, and if you ever get to Shiner, go visit them. The food is served cafeteria style and is priced by the pound! Totally delicious, with the only being that like many restaurants here, they close at 2:00 p.m.!
Have a great week, try the recipe and see if you enjoy King’s Cake, or go to your local grocery store and buy one! In past years HEB has started handling them here in Yoakum, however, I haven’t seen one yet this year..
You may remember, last week, I told about a doll or a bean being used to indicate who would have the next party, well, back in those days, among the wealthy, actual gold and diamond jewelry was sometimes substituted for the bean or doll.
I have baked the King Cake using the dough setting on my bread maker and this seems to work really well. After taking the dough from the bread machine, it is rolled and shaped into a 14-inch circle. The baby is inserted in the bottom, so no one can tell where it was placed. The circle is then baked, cooled and frosted with a light powdered sugar glaze. After you have the glaze on, you sprinkle purple, representing Justice, green, representing Faith, and gold, representing Power, colored sugar in 2-inch wide stripes onto the frosting.
The following is the simplest of several recipes for the cake that I found on the Internet. Personally, I prefer just to use the recipe for sweet dough in my bread maker cookbook, adding the nutmeg and lemon rind when the bread maker ‘beeps’.
Mardi Gras King’s Cake
½ cup water, (105ºF to 115ºF)
2 packages active dry yeast
3½ to 4½ cups all purpose flour
½ cup granulated sugar
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
½ cup lukewarm water
3 eggs
4 egg yolks
½ cup softened butter
1 egg (lightly beaten with 1 teaspoon milk
1 ovenproof figurine (or, use a large bean wrapped in foil)
3 cups powdered sugar
¼ lemon juiced and strained
3 teaspoons water (more if necessary
Green, purple and yellow sugars
Soften yeast in water. Combine flour, sugar, nutmeg, salt and lemon rind in a large bowl. Make a well in the center. Add yeast mixture, eggs, egg yolks and combine completely. Beat in butter until dough forms a ball. Place on floured board; incorporate more flour if necessary. Knead until smooth and elastic. Place dough in a well buttered bowl, turning over so all surfaces are covered. Cover with a towel and let rise 1 ½ hours or until doubled in bulk. Dough is doubled when you can gently poke two fingers in the dough and the holes remain. Brush baking sheet with butter. Punch dough down on lightly floured board. Knead lightly, then roll and pat into a 15-inch cylinder. Place on baking sheet, and form into a circle, pinching edges together. Press figurine into bottom of dough, so that it is hidden. Set aside, covered with a bowl to rise 1 to 1½ hours. Before baking, brush top with the egg milk mixture. Bake in a preheated 375ºF until golden brown. Cool on wire rack. Beat icing ingredients until smooth. Spread over top of cake, letting it drip down sides. Immediately sprinkle sugars in alternating, 2-inch wide stripes of purple, green and yellow.
When I use packaged Hot Cocoa mix for a cup of hot cocoa, it is always too sweet for me. I kept wondering what I could do to at least sort of alleviate this! After checking in my cabinets, and seeing my can of Hershey’s® cocoa, I think the best solution is to dissolve about 1 to 1½ teaspoons of the cocoa in hot water in your cup before you add the cocoa mix, then fill the cup with the boiling water according to the directions on the box. It cut the sweetnes beautifully and added a little extra zip of chocolate.