It’s Good To Be King Cake,

If Just For A While.

For the end of Mardi Gras I thought it appropriate to make a more or less “traditional King Cake.” I say more or less as I have never had a King Cake and am unsure of the “traditional” texture and flavor. When cut, this cake resembled a cinnamon roll, which is no surprise as it is a yeast dough, twice risen and rolled with cinnamon and sugar. It actually tasted more like a cinnamon roll than a “cake”. Next year, I may try a more cakey recipe.

I thought the glaze was a little too acidic. Maybe I should have used a cream cheese based glaze, or just cut the citrus juice in half. To help the colored sugar adhere I would also give a very light spray of water over the glazed cake prior to dusting. Too much water may melt the colored sugar.


  • 8 oz sour cream
  • 2½ Tbsp sugar
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 2 tsp active dry yeast
  • ¼ cup warm water (100 – 110 F)
  • ½ Tbsp sugar
  • 1 large egg, slightly beaten
  • 3 to 3½ cups bread flour
  • Purple, green and gold tinted sparkling sugar sprinkles


  • 2½ Tbsp butter, softened
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon


  • 1 ½ Tbsp butter, melted
  • 1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • ¼ tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 to 2 Tbsp milk
  • ¼ cup warm water (100 – 110 F)
  • ½ Tbsp sugar


  1. Cook first 4 ingredients in a medium saucepan over low heat, stirring often, until butter melts. Set aside and cool mixture to 100 to 110 F
  2. Stir together yeast, ¼ cup warm water, and ½ Tblsp sugar in a 1 cup glass measuring cup; let stand 5 minutes
  3. Beat sour cream mixture, yeast mixture, eggs and 1 cup flour at medium speed until smooth.
  4. Reduce speed to low, changed to dough hook and gradually add enough remaining flour 2 – 2 ½ cups until a smooth dough forms
  5. Knead with dough hook until smooth and elastic (about 12 min)
  6. Place in an oiled bowl and flip to grease top
  7. Cover and let rise in a warm place for 1 hour or until doubled
  8. Punch down dough, divide in half
  9. Roll into a 22”x12” rectangle
  10. Spread 2 Tbsp softened butter evenly on each rectangle, leaving a 1” border.
  11. Stir together ¼ cup sugar and cinnamon, and sprinkle evenly on each rectangle
  12. Roll up each rectangle, jelly roll style, starting with the long edge.
  13. Place seam side down on lightly greased baking sheet.
  14. Bring ends together to form an oval ring moistening and pinching edges together to seal


  1. Stir together first 4 ingredients
  2. Stir in 2 Tbsp milk, adding additional milk 1 tsp at a time until spreading consistency


  1. Cover and let rise in a warm place 20 – 30 min until doubled
  2. Bake at 375 F for 14 – 16 min or until golden
  3. Slightly cool cake in pan on wire rack (about 10 min.)
  4. Drizzle creamy glaze evenly over warm cake, sprinkle with colored sugar, alternating colors

Finished King Cake

OPTION: Cream Cheese-filled King Cake

  1. Prepare 22×12” dough rectangle as directed
  2. Omit 2 Tblsp butter and cinnamon. Increase ¼ cup sugar to ⅓ cup
  3. Beat 1/3 cup sugar with 8 oz softened cream cheese, ½ large egg and 2 tsp vanilla extract at medium
  4. Spread mixture evenly on dough rectangle, leaving 1 inch border

Yeah I’ll be king when dogs get wings
Can I help it if I still dream time to time

What the Focaccia Are You Talking About?

Or, you say tomato and I say potato.

I was flipping through Paul Hollywood’s bread book and saw his focaccia bread, both the Focaccia Pugliese with Tomatoes and Garlic and Potato Focaccia Pugliese. I never made focaccia before and felt these two might be a good beginning. Plus, I craftily asked Fran to put an extra potato in the shopping cart yesterday.

Pugliese is very similar to ciabatta with large holes in the crumb and a very chewy texture. It was interesting that some recipes called for no, or at least minimal kneading, others require typical 7-10 minutes of kneading and still others want extensive kneading, even during the rise to develop even more gluten for a chewier texture.  I chose minimal and it developed an excellent, chewy loaf with a good crunchy crust. The stand mixer really does not care how long you knead.focaccia

My strategy was to make one recipe of bread dough, divide it in half and use one for the tomato and the other for the potato.

img_0023I also made 2 dozen chocolate dipped short bread cookies, but they were not part of this post. Just a picture for proof.


  • 4 cups bread flour
  • 1 tbl salt
  • 2 tsp fast acting yeast
  • 1 1/4 cup water


  • Thin slices of tomato (I used about 1/2 tomato)
  • 1 tsp crushed garlic
  • Sea Salt – as needed
  • Parmesan Cheese – as needed
  • Olive oil – as needed


  • Thin slices of potato (I used about 1/3 a potato, new potatoes would be better if you had them.)
  • 3-4 sprigs of rosemary from your backyard garden, which you still have to cover every
    night to protect from the frost.
  • Sea Salt – as needed
  • Olive oil – as needed


  1. Add all the bread ingredients to a stand mixer equipped with the bread hook. Mix to form a good dough. If you were going to knead the dough keep the mixer running at speed 4 for 7-8 minutes until the dough becomes smooth and elastic.
  2. Cover the mixer bowl and place in the proofing drawer of your beautiful double wall oven. It’s nice having two ovens. I used the top oven to bake the 3 baguettes I made first while proofing the focaccia, (focaccias, focaccii?) the lower.
  3. After and hour of proofing and the dough has at least doubled in size, remove from
    the oven and gently tip onto a lightly floured surface.
  4. Cut the dough in half and place each half on a parchment paper covered large baking sheet, or two smaller sheets.
  5. Gently, using your fingers form each piece of dough into a rough circle about 1/2″ thick.
  6. Punch your fingers into the dough making a rough wavy surface.
  7. Arrange the potato slices, rosemary and sea salt on one and sprinkle and rub
    with olive oil.
  8. Arrange the tomato slices on the other piece of dough and sprinkle with sea salt, garlic, olive oil and cheese.
  9. Push the tomato and potato sliced down inside the dough as much as possible so the dough will rise up around, engulfing the slices.
  10. Place the doughs back in the proofing oven for another hour, or until at least doubled.
  11. Preheat the oven to 425 F convection and bake for 20-25 min until golden brown.
  12. Best eaten warm, but damn, not bad after it has cooled either.

Orange Chocolate Tart

Once again I was watching GBBO and was inspired. Of course my neighbor’s orange tree, file-feb-17-10-17-08-amconveniently planted near our fence such that some of it’s fruit hung over my side, helped me decide to try this new pastry. I hadn’t made a sweet tart where the filling, not just the pastry crust, was baked. This tart had a clean, fresh, sweet taste and excellent texture.



  • For the chocolate filling
    • 75g butter
    • 115g dark chocolate (no more than 60% cocoa solids), finely chopped
    • 115g caster sugar
    • 55g AP flour
    • 4 medium eggs
  • For the orange filling
    • 25g butter
    • 50g white chocolate
    • 1 orange, finely grated zest only
    • 35g caster sugar
    • 25g AP flour
    • 2 medium egg yolks


  1. Grease a 9in fluted tart tin with butter.
  2. For the pastry, measure the flour, icing sugar and butter into the bowl of a food processor and pulse until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add the egg yolk and a tablespoon of cold water and mix until it comes together to form a soft dough.
  3. Wrap the dough in cling film and leave to rest in the fridge for about 30 minutes.
  4. Preheat the oven to 200C/400F.
  5. Dust the work surface with flour then roll out the pastry as thinly as you can to a circle about 2in larger than your flan tin.
  6. Line the tin with the pastry. Don’t worry if the pastry breaks a little, it is easy to patch up. Chill for 15 minutes.
  7. Prick the base of the pastry with a fork, line the pastry case with baking paper or foil and fill with baking beans. Bake the pastry blind for 10 minutes, or until just lightly golden-brown. Remove the paper and beans and return the tart to the oven to cook for a further 5-7 minutes, or until pale golden-brown and the base is cooked.
  8. To make the chocolate filling, melt the butter and chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of gently simmering water until melted and smooth. Remove from the heat and stir in the sugar and flour. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, and leave to stand.
  9. To make the orange filling, melt the butter and white chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of gently simmering water until melted and smooth. Remove from the heat and stir in the orange zest, sugar and flour. Beat in the egg yolks, one at a time and pour the mixture into a jug.
  10. Place the pastry case on a baking tray. Pour the chocolate mixture into the pastry case. Drizzle or pipe the orange filling over the chocolate filling to create a swirl effect. Draw a tooth stick through the filling to create a marbled effect.
  11. Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until just set around the edges, but still slightly wobbly in the centre.
  12. Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly, until warm but not piping hot, then serve. It is actually very good cold also.

Blame It On Rio, or Richard Cadbury

Salted Chocolate Covered Caramels

It wasn’t until 1861, when his light bulb turned on (notice the anachronism?) and he decided there was an untapped marketing opportunity selling his chocolates in heart shaped boxes for Valentine’s Day. He didn’t know it, but modern science has linked the chemical phenylethylamine in chocolate to feelings of excitement, attraction and even pleasure. heart-pastry

Last year, I went pure pastry, making heart shaped Mille-feuille.

This year, having learned how to temper chocolate for my Hot Chocolate Cake, and decided to make these candies. I found and followed an online recipe, but found it lacking. The caramel was a little too soft and the chocolate did not completely set. The tempering instructions were a little vague without specifying the suggested heating and cooling temperatures. I made adjustments based on what I learned from previous temperingimg_0004 and also increased the temperature of the caramel to slightly increase the hardness of the caramel.

The result was these soft, chewy, melt in your mouth chocolate caramels. Complementing the candies were 2 dozen chocolateimg_0005 dipped, heart shaped, shortbread cookies.

Michaels had some pink gift boxes for St. Valentine’s Day (10 boxes for $3.90 with img_0009coupon) for a nice presentation.

Helpful note: you will be busy while making this, therefore, have all equipment ready and ingredients measured
out prior to starting.

Makes approximately 24 heart shaped caramels.



    • 113g unsalted butter (1 stick)
    • 120 ml heavy cream or heavy whipping cream (36-40% butterfat content)
    • 3 tablespoons water
    • 85g (¼C) light corn syrup
    • 200g sugar

    • 225g high quality chocolate, milk, dark, or white
    • course sea salt as needed


PREPARE PAN AND INGREDIENTSred-heart-shaped-silicone-mold

  1. Lightly grease a heart shaped silicone mold. I tried the first time with a spray but the caramels came out greasy. I then changed to a light coating of vegetable shortening with better results.
  2. Cut butter into 8 pieces then combine with heavy cream in a small microwave-safe bowl. Heat in the microwave 30 second bursts until hot and butter has melted.
  3. Set aside.


  1. In a small saucepan combine the water and corn syrup.
  2. Carefully add the sugar so you don’t splatter the sugar up the sides of the pan. Gently stir the sugar into the water and corn syrup, just moistening the sugar.
  3. Heat on medium until the sugar has come to a boil.
  4. Cover with a lid for 1 minute to melt any sugar adhering to the side of the pan. Any sugar on the side of the pan will cause the caramel to crystalize and be grainy.
  5. Continue cooking until the sugar reaches a temperature of 320o F and the sugar turns a light amber color around the edges of the pan.
  6. When the sugar reaches 320o F, slowly pour about ¼ of the butter and cream mixture then stir, using a small silicone spatula to incorporate it. Be careful, the sugar mixture will boil violently as you add the butter. Repeat with the remaining cream and butter, about ¼ at a time. Add the sugar mixture slowly and carefully to keep the mixture from bubbling over the sides of the saucepan.
  7. The temperature will drop when you add the cream and butter. Continue cooking for another 5 to 10 minutes, until the caramel reaches a temperature of 245o
  8. The moment the caramel reaches your desired temperature, pour into the greased mold. I poured the hot caramel into a heat proof 2 cup measuring cup, then into the mold. It was easier to control than straight from the sauce pan
  9. Cool until firm. (I refrigerated the caramel hearts.)


  1. Finely chop 225g of good quality semi-sweet chocolate. (I prefer dark chocolate.) The smaller amount of chocolate, the more difficult it is to control the temperature changes, but this amount was enough to coat the caramels.
  2. Place about 150g of the chocolate in a double boiler or metal bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water. Make sure the bottom of the bowl does not touch the water. Place a candy thermometer or digital thermometer in the chocolate and stir frequently with a rubber spatula.
  3. Do not let the temperature of the chocolate exceed 120°F for dark chocolate or 105°F for milk or white chocolate. When the chocolate has fully melted, remove the bowl from heat. Wipe the bottom of the bowl to get rid of any condensation as any water in the molten chocolate will cause it to seize.
  4. Stir in the remaining chocolate a little at a time. Let it melt before adding more.
  5. Let the chocolate cool to about 82°F. If it is warmer, keep stirring and let it cool some more. If it is cooler, begin reheating in the next step.
  6. Once the chocolate is 82°F, place it back over simmering water. For dark chocolate, reheat to 88°F to 91°F. For milk and white chocolate, reheat to 85°F to 87°F. Remove the bowl from heat once you have reached the right temperature.
  7. Spread a small spoonful of chocolate on a piece of wax paper. If it looks dull or streaky, re-temper the chocolate, starting with step 2. If it dries quickly with a glossy finish and no streaks, the chocolate is in temper.
  8. Keeping chocolate in temper
    1. Once melted chocolate has been tempered, it must be used before it cools and sets. If it cools to about 84°F to 86°F and is still fairly liquid, it can be reheated to a liquid consistency.
    2. If it has completely cooled and solidified, it should be re-tempered. Heat it for 5 to 10 seconds at a time, stirring and checking the temperature before reheating. For dark chocolate, reheat to 88°F to 91°F. For milk and white chocolate, reheat to 87°F to 88°F. If you keep your chocolate within these temperature ranges, it will stay in temper and be liquid enough to use.


  1. One at a time drop the cool caramel into the tempered chocolate
  2. Use one fork to flip the caramel assuring both sides and the edges are coated.
  3. Use the second fork to lift the coated caramel out of the chocolate and flip onto the other fork to drain some of the chocolate off the heart.
  4. Carefully place the chocolate on a piece of waxed paper and sprinkle with coarse sea salt.
  5. Cool and eat.