Ever since I was a child, one of my favorite leisurely things to do is pick up a good mystery, curl up on the sofa and read the afternoon away. With the convenience of reading and purchasing digital books on a Kindle, I rarely find time to browse for new books at a bookstore…which is a shame. There’s something magical about holding printed pages in your hand, looking at colorful cover art and discovering a new author. Last week I was lucky and had a free hour after running some errands and spied a Barnes and Nobel in the same shopping area I was visiting. I locked my packages in my car and proceeded to browse row upon row of books.
Cake on a Hot Tin Roof by Jacklyn Brady grabbed my attention for a few reasons. First of all I adore fun word play twists on titles; then the King Cake on the cover art intrigued me since I assumed it would be a mystery centered around baking; and lastly it’s Mardi Gras season and what better way to get into the spirit when you’re not in New Orleans in person? Cake on a Hot Tin Roof was a fun read. Rita Lucero owns the bakery, Zydeco, in New Orleans. She and her staff are already overworked baking hundreds of King Cakes during Mardi Gras season when her aunt and uncle show up unannounced, visiting from New Mexico. When an obnoxious guest is murdered at a gala Rita is hosting, her uncle is a suspect since he was in a violent altercation with the deceased earlier in the evening. Rita decides she must clear her uncle’s name since he seems to be harboring secrets that make him appear guilty. Jacklyn Brady brings the flavors, sights and festive spirit of New Orleans to life in the book (along with recipes) and I look forward to reading more of her work!
Mardi Gras King Cake Cupcakes
While King Cake is traditionally baked into a ring, I decided to make it into cupcake shapes. I love the ease of sharing and serving this way. If you are not familiar with King Cake, be aware that it is more of a yeasty sweet bread and my Mardi Gras King Cake Cupcakes are reminiscent of cinnamon rolls.
Makes 15 “Cupcakes”
2/3 cup milk (whole, 2%, coconut, almond or soy)
3 tablespoons butter or vegan buttery sticks such as Earth Balance
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg, room temperature
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2-3/4 cups (13.6 ounces) all-purpose flour (scoop & measure method)
1-1/2 teaspoons instant active yeast
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
1/2 cup chopped pecans
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) melted butter or vegan buttery sticks such as Earth Balance
2 cups confectioners’ sugar
1 tablespoon choice of milk (whole, 2%, coconut, almond or soy) + more if needed
Purple, yellow and green sparkling sugar sprinkles
Place your choice of milk and the butter/margarine in a microwave safe dish and heat to approximately 105-110 degrees. Butter does not need to melt completely. My microwave took 45 seconds. If mixture overheats, let it cool while you collect the rest of the ingredients. If it’s cooler than 105 degrees, it will be okay too.
Place milk mixture, sugar, salt, vanilla and egg into the pan of your bread machine. Layer flour, cinnamon and nutmeg next. Make a well in the flour and carefully add the yeast. Make sure you follow your bread machine’s operating directions for adding ingredients in the correct order.
Start the dough cycle on your bread machine. Once the kneading cycle begins, the dough should feel tacky but still pull away from the sides of the bread machine pan. If too wet, add 1 tablespoon of flour at a time. If too dry, add 1 tablespoon of water at a time. Humidity plays a role – I made these when the Santa Ana winds were blowing in from the desert and I had to add more liquid.
Mix brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, pecans, and flour together. Stir melted butter into the mixture until thoroughly moistened. Set aside until dough is ready.
Assembling “Cupcakes” **
Line a cupcake pan with paper liners and spritz each liner with cooking spray.
Turn dough out onto a flour-dusted surface and roll into a large rectangle (approximately 18” x 14”). Sprinkle the filling mixture over the dough and gently press to compact.
Beginning at the wide end, roll the dough into a tight cylinder then pinch the edges together to seal.
With a serrated knife, slice into 1-inch pieces. Place each piece into a cupcake liner and let rise until puffy, 45 – 55 minutes, in a warm, dry place. I like my cold oven with the light turned on for rising.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place cupcake pan in oven and bake 10 – 12 minutes, until golden brown and the internal temperature reaches 190 degrees.
Remove from oven and cool in pan for five minutes. Remove “cupcakes” and finish cooling on a wire rack.
Once “cupcakes” are cooled, mix the confectioners’ sugar with your choice of milk. It should be pretty thick but if it’s not spreadable, add additional milk 1/2 teaspoon at a time.
Working with one “cupcake” at a time, spread icing over top then sprinkle one stripe of purple, yellow and green sparkling sugar onto the icing. Set aside to dry and proceed with remaining “cupcakes.”
** Alternately, you can bake this into a traditional King Cake shape. Once you have your dough filled and rolled into a tight cylinder bring the ends together to form a ring and pinch to seal the ends together. Place the ring on a parchment lined baking sheet and let rise for 45 – 55 minutes. Preheat oven to 375 degrees and bake 25 – 30 minutes. Once cake is cooled ice and decorate with purple, yellow and green sparkling sugar.
- My favorite instant read thermometer is Thermapen Digital Thermometer
- Set cooling rack over baking sheet to catch icing drips.
- Sprinkle each sparkling sugar color over it’s own paper plate. You’ll be able to reuse the sprinkles for additional “cupcakes” when the plate collects enough.