Reposting from 2012. (Original post is here)
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Back just after Epiphany, I received this great email from a reader named Jenny:
I just wanted to let you know that I tried your faux cinnamon roll recipe... but not for cinnamon rolls.
Down here in New Orleans, Epiphany heralds not so much the end of the Christmas season as the beginning of the Mardi Gras season. The famous parades don't really happen until a couple of weeks before Mardi Gras itself--but the balls and banquets begin on "Twelfth Night". An important (hee) part of this whole Mardi-Gras-season is, of course, King Cake. Every local bakery makes them--you can get them at coffee shops, grocery stores--just about anywhere, in this town, at this time of year.
King Cakes are usually a brioche made into a circle and decorated with icing and purple, green, and gold sugars (the "official" colors of Mardi Gras). I tried my hand at making one a few years ago, but I find brioche difficult to work with. And then I started having babies. And I stopped trying to get a handle on homemade brioche and started using a bread machine.
But your bread-machine cinnamon roll recipe has saved me! It makes a delicious King Cake bread!
I used your recipe...
[added by bearing: here's what you put in the bread machine, taken from the link above]:
- 2 and 1/4 cups whole wheat flour
- 1 and 1/2 tsp bread machine yeast
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon (cardamon is also nice, as is chai spice)
- 3/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp milk (or you can use apple juice; omit the sugar)
- 3 Tbsp sugar
- 1 Tbsp coconut oil (or butter)
- 1/2 cup raisins or currants
....but when I took the dough out of the machine, I sort of stretched it into a long snake--which I then flattened out and dotted with small pats of butter and an additional sprinkling of cinnamon and white sugar down the center. I folded up each side to enclose the cinnamon/sugar/butter and then laid the whole thing in a ring on a baking sheet.
[After the second rise of about 30 minutes, bake it at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes --- edited by bearing].
When it came out and had cooled a bit, I did a simple powdered sugar/milk/vanilla glaze and then added the colored sugars.
Everyone loved it. My husband, an actual New Orleans native, proclaimed it "the best King Cake he'd ever had", even after I'd accused him of just trying to get in good with the chef (ha).
Anyway, thanks for the recipe! The good/bad news is that now we've decided that since it is, in fact, better than store-bought King Cake, I am now assuming the role of Official King Cake Baker from now until Mardi Gras...
I've attached some photos of the cake, in case you're interested.
Am I? Am I?
I almost feel bad about this because... this is a reasonably healthy recipe! That's why I use it for an everyday, if fun-to-eat, breakfast bun. It's made from 100% whole wheat flour, a little bit of coconut oil, milk (or apple juice if you want), and not even very much sugar. No eggs even. Heck, you can make this recipe vegan if you want! Not exactly in the spirit of Mardi Gras!
It is possible to make non-faux cinnamon rolls in the bread machine, with a brioche-style dough, if you want a richer version (e.g. with eggs and milk and butter and not so much whole wheat flour). But Jenny is right that brioche dough is harder to work with, so this may be a lower-stress version as well as a lower-sugar-buzz version.
Traditionally you're supposed to hide a trinket inside the cake, and the person who gets the trinket has some kind of obligation or wins a prize or is lucky or something like that. Be careful not to choke on it!