Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Age Old Rituals: Pumpkin King Cake

Today is Shrove Tuesday.  A day in which we are "to shrive" or, for those who speak modern English... a day of celebratory penance.

Traditionally, Shrove Tuesday has been set aside as a day to confess one's sins, receive absolution, and thus, free one's self from sin and guilt... before entering into the somber and penitential season known within the Christian and Catholic churches, as Lent.

At some point, we interpreted this to mean... "drink as much alcohol as humanly possible and show your breasts to strangers, in order to collect cheap beads and trinkets."

What?  You don't see the connection?

God is... so proud of us.

If flashing a neighbor is out of the question and confession isn't really up your alley... try a King Cake.  Pumpkin style. (There are lots and lots of King Cake recipes out there, and this one, is a conglomeration... but surprisingly, I didn't find a single one, which included pumpkin! So there you go.)

What you'll need:

For the cake/pastry
1/2 Cup milk
2 Tablespoons butter
1 Package active dry yeast
1/3 Cup warm water (110*F/45*C)
1/4 Cup white sugar
1 Egg
3/4 Teaspoon salt
1/4 Teaspoon nutmeg
2-3/4 Cups flour

For the filling
1/2 Cup packed brown sugar
1-1/2 Teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/3 Cup pecans (chopped)
1/4 Cup flour
1/4 Cup melted butter
1/2 Cup pumpkin puree

For the icing
1/2 Cup confectioners sugar
1-1/2 Teaspoons water
Colored sugar
A bean of your choosing

Scald milk, remove from heat and stir in butter. Allow mixture to cool to room temperature. In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in the warm water with 1 tablespoon of the white sugar. Let stand until frothy, about 10 minutes.

When yeast mixture is frothy, add the cooled milk mixture. Whisk in the egg. Stir in the remaining sugar, salt and nutmeg. Beat the flour into the milk/egg mixture 1 cup at a time. When the dough has pulled together, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 8 to 10 minutes. Lightly oil a large bowl, place the dough in the bowl and turn to coat with oil. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, about 2 hours.

While that's doing its thing, combine the brown sugar, ground cinnamon, chopped pecans, and 1/2 cup flour. Pour 1/2 cup melted butter over the cinnamon mixture and mix until crumbly.  Add the puree and stir.

Roll dough out into a large rectangle (approximately 10x16 inches or so). Spread the filling evenly over the dough and roll tightly like a jelly roll, beginning at the widest side. Bring the ends of each roll together to form an oval shaped ring. (Mine lost it's oval-ness, but tasted just fine.) Place on a greased or parchment covered cookie sheet. Let rise in a warm spot until doubled in size, about 45 minutes.  Preheat your oven to 375*.

Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes. Push a doll or a bean into the bottom of the cake. Frost while warm with the powdered sugar blended with 1 to 2 tablespoons of water.  Sprinkle with colored sugar, according to your preference.

Cut a piece while it's still warm, and Oh. My. Gosh.  You'll know then, what it is that you shall "shrive." 

Blessings to you this Shrove Tuesday...

1 comment:

  1. Try living at the entrance to mardi gras central!

    I made a King Cake for high school french class - it took about four hours and one run extra run to the grocery store. Lots of work.

    I meant to eat all the girl scout cookies in my house on Tuesday and then give them up (gladly) for Lent, but decided that was against the point...