[Update 3 Dec 2009: I'm linking this recipe to this week's Party Food Theme at The Gluten-Free Homemaker's "What Can I Eat That's Gluten-Free?"
I first learned of King Cakes while living in Texas, though I think it's more common to find around New Orleans, LA. It is a traditional pastry treat baked for Christmas and Mardi Gras, but other celebrations as well.
A fun tradition of the King Cake is the little toy baby (representing Jesus) that is baked inside (or slid in after baking). The person who gets a slice of the cake with the baby inside it is obliged to bring a King Cake to the next celebration. The tradition makes it a fun food item to offer at a party. The pastry itself also makes a great breakfast treat Christmas morning or New Year's morning.]
I’ve been searching for a gluten-free king cake recipe for weeks now, and just couldn’t find one. With Mardi Gras only a few days away, I came to the conclusion that I was going to have to make my own recipe. I was a little nervous about making a gluten-free yeast bread, but I think I got lucky because it turned out better than I expected. That’s assuming I can still remember what a king cake is supposed to taste like. This is basically a breakfast pastry shaped into a ring. I made two small cakes out of this recipe and tried a different filling with each. Some king cakes have no filling at all, but I like the extra flavor of the fillings.
Gluten-Free King Cake
2 (.25 oz.) packages of active dry yeast
1/2 Cup warm water (100 – 110 degrees F)
1/2 Cup + 2 tsp white sugar
1 Cup milk
1/4 Cup butter
1-1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
2-1/2 Cups brown rice flour (super-finely ground)
1 Cup potato starch
1/2 Cup tapioca flour
2 tsp xanthan gum
Brown Sugar Filling (makes enough for two small king cakes):
1 Cup packed brown sugar
1 TBSP cinnamon
1/2 Cup melted butter
1/2 Cup pecans, chopped (optional)
Cream Cheese Filling (makes enough for two small king cakes):
1 (8 oz.) package of cream cheese
1/2 Cup powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 Cups powdered sugar, sifted to remove lumps
1/4 Cup orange juice
1 tsp butter flavor
1 tsp almond flavor
1 tsp vanilla extract
- In a large mixing bowl, dissolve yeast in 1/2 Cup of warm water (100-110 degrees F/45 degrees C) with 2 tsp of sugar. Stir it lightly and let it stand for 10 minutes.
- In a small bowl, heat the milk in the microwave, so it’s hot but not boiling (1-2 minutes). Add in the butter and stir until it’s melted. Once the yeast has stood for 10 min. and foamed up, pour the milk mixture into the large mixing bowl with the yeast mixture. Mix in the eggs, 1/2 Cup sugar, salt and nutmeg.
- In a separate large bowl, mix the brown rice flour, the potato starch, tapioca flour and xanthan gum. Then, add the flour mixture to the yeast/milk mixture and mix thoroughly. The dough should start to pull together, but it will be sticky.
- Lightly oil a large bowl, place the dough in the bowl and turn it a few times to coat the dough with the oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a damp towel, and set in a warm place to rise for about 2 hours.
- To make fillings, simply combine ingredients and mix well.
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).
- Once the dough has risen, divide it into two equal portions and turn each half of the dough out onto its own sheet of parchment paper lightly dusted with a gluten-free flour.
- Place a large piece of plastic wrap on top of one of the dough balls and start to roll it out to a large rectangle about 16 inches long. Place your filling of choice along one long side of the dough, then begin rolling it up like a jelly-roll. Use the parchment paper to help lift and roll the dough until it is a long skinny roll. Turn the dough, so that the seam is on the bottom. Now shape the roll into a ring, pressing the ends together.
- Slide the parchment paper along with the dough onto a cookie sheet and place into the oven. (If you don’t have parchment paper, use wax paper to roll out the dough, but place the ring of dough on a lightly greased cookie sheet.) Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until lightly browned. Let the cake cool slightly on a wire rack. If inserting a plastic baby or trinket, make a small cut on the top of the cake and place the baby inside. Press the cake back together. The cut in the cake should be covered up by the frosting and colored sugar.
- Repeat steps 8 and 9 for the second ball of dough.
- Make the frosting by combining the ingredients in a medium bowl. Pour the frosting over the slightly cooled cake and immediately decorate with colored sugar sprinkles (green, purple and gold!).