by Darlene's Kitchen
This is a very versatile treat and can be adapted to any occasion. Simply change the colors of the sugars or leave them off altogether. You can also add color to the icing. Be creative!
You'll make this in several stages. It's a bit time consuming, but well worth the effort!
If you have a favorite sweet dough recipe, you can use it. Below is one of my favorites.
Mix the dough
2 tbsp Yeast
1/2 cup warm Water (about 110°)
3/4 cup scalded Milk (about 60-75 seconds in the microwave should scald the milk)
1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp Sugar
1 tsp Salt
1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp unsalted Butter
1/4 tsp ground Nutmeg
5 to 5 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose Flour
2 beaten Eggs
While the milk is scalding, soften the yeast in warm water. With a mixer, combine milk, sugar, salt, butter, nutmeg, and 2 1/2 cups of the flour. Beat until well combined. Add the yeast mixture and the eggs and continue beating until dough is smooth. Add enough of the remaining flour to make a smooth dough. Knead for 5 minutes. Place in a greased bowl, turning to grease all sides. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in warm place until doubled. *The time will vary, but usually within an hour to an hour and a half it will be doubled. Check it after 30-45 minutes.* While the dough is rising, work on the fillings. You'll want to wait until the dough is rolled out to melt the butter, etc., but there are other things you can put together while waiting. Do as much as you can. It will go faster later on while you are assembling the cake.
Cream Cheese Filling
1 8 oz package Cream Cheese
3/4 tsp Vanilla
1/4 tsp Salt
5 tbsp Sugar
1/2 beaten egg (Don't stress over total accuracy of this! Refrigerate and save the other half to use as an egg wash, if desired.)
Beat all cream cheese filling ingredients together until thoroughly combined and smooth. Refrigerate until ready to use. About 10 minutes before using, remove from fridge to allow it warm up a little. It will spread more easily.
1/4 cup unsalted Butter, melted
1 tsp Vanilla
1/2 cup light Brown Sugar, packed
1/2 tsp Allspice
1 tsp Cinnamon
1 cup finely chopped Pecans (really get them chopped!)
You can go ahead and mix the brown sugar and spices together and set aside. You can also chop the pecans and set aside. At the time you need it, completely melt the butter and stir in the vanilla while the butter is still hot.
Time to assemble the cake!
When the dough is double in bulk, punch it down to deflate. Roll it into a ball and let it rest for 10 minutes. *Take the cream cheese filling out of the fridge so it can warm up a bit.* On a floured surface, roll out the dough into a 10 x 28 inch rectangle. Lightly and carefully score the dough lengthwise to divide it into 2 equal halves. Spoon the cream cheese filling down the center of one of the halves, leaving about 1 1/2 inch border on the sides, top and bottom. Mix the melted butter and vanilla together and spread down the center of the other half, leaving the same border space. I just use my hand to spread it. It goes faster and spreads more evenly. Next, sprinkle the brown sugar and spices mixture evenly on top of that. Last, sprinkle the chopped pecans over all that.
Now for the tricky parts: gently and carefully, fold the dough over the cream cheese filling and seal the edges of the dough. Repeat this process with the praline filled dough. It's important to make sure the edges are sealed well so the fillings won't leak out so much during the baking process. Taking extra care, twist the two filled pieces of dough together into a braid-like shape. Bring the dough around so it forms somewhat of an oval or circle. Seal the loose ends together. I just fold them under a bit so it still looks pretty. Now is the REALLY tricky part: CAREFULLY (I always hold my breath here) transfer the cake to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Exhale now. Brush the top and sides with some of the other half of the beaten egg that was leftover from the cream cheese filling. Refrigerate the rest if there is any left. Cover the cake loosely with plastic wrap and let it rise until almost double in bulk, approximately 45 minutes. Remove the plastic wrap and brush with remaining egg wash.
Bake in a 350° oven for about 30 minutes or until it is a golden brown color and a toothpick inserted comes out crumb free. If you stick the toothpick into the cream cheese part, it will be moist from that, but there shouldn't be any crumbs. About halfway through baking, rotate the pan around so you'll get a more even color.
Allow the cake to cool about 30 minutes. If desired, slip a traditional plastic baby (Party City has them in a package of several) underneath the cake and gently push inside. Now for the icing on the cake!
1 to 1 1/2 cups Powdered Sugar
1 to 2 tbsp Milk
1/2 tsp clear Vanilla
1/2 tbsp melted Butter
Whisk together the powdered sugar, milk and vanilla. Whisk in the melted butter. The icing should be thick, but at drizzling consistency. You might need to adjust the powdered sugar or the milk at this point.
Drizzle icing over the cake. While the icing is still wet, sprinkle Mardi Gras colored sugars (purple, golden yellow, and green) over the top – or create your own final touches.
from Darlene Womack/Darlene's Kitchen
6 c apples, peeled and sliced
Juice from one orange
1/2 cup flour
1 cup sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
3 3/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 Tbsp sugar
1 1/2 cup shortening
2 eggs yolks plus water to equal 1 cup - reserve 1 egg white for egg wash
1 c powdered sugar
2 Tbsp milk or light cream (approx)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract