posted by Dodger 02-07-101 5:29 AM
1 envelope dry yeast
1 tsp. sugar
1/4 cup buttermilk
5 cups flour
2 sticks butter, softened (not melted)
2/3 cup sugar
1 Tbs. vanilla
1 oz. nut-flavored liqueur (i.e. Amaretto or Nocello)
4 large eggs
1/2 cup sugar, divided three ways
Blue, red, green, and yellow food coloring.
In the microwave, mix 1/4 cup of water with the buttermilk in a bowl until barely warm to the touch. Stir in the yeast and the tsp. of sugar. Add 2/3 cup of the flour into the water. Stir with a fork until a rough dough forms. Set aside.
In the bowl of an electric mixer (preferably one strong enough to knead bread dough, although this is not necessary), mix the butter and sugar. When well blended, add vanilla, liqueur, and eggs. If using a powerful mixer, add the dough from step 2, and then slowly add all but a cup of the remaining flour to make a well-blended, somewhat runny dough. If your mixer is smaller, blend the step 2 dough and the butter-sugar-egg mixture in a large bowl with a wooden spoon, then work in all but a cup of the rest of the flour. Knead by hand to make a well-blended somewhat runny dough.
Put the dough into a greased bowl. Cover with a damp cloth and allow to rise for two to three hours.
Punch the dough down on a well-floured board, and blend in the last cup of flour. Divide the dough (which will still be sticky) into three pieces. Roll them into tubes about 2 feet long each. Braid the three tubes loosely, staggering the ends. Form into a circle or oval, and braid the ends. (You can wet the ends with a little water to tie them end to end.)
Dust the ring lightly with cinnamon, and hide the baby or other gewgah inside the cake somewhere. Place on a greased cookie sheet, cover with a damp cloth. and allow to rise in a warm place for about 45 more minutes.
Bake in a preheated 350-degree oven for about 30 minutes, until golden brown. Brush the top with the remaining nut liqueur. Allow to cool.
To make colored sugar, put the sugar into a small jar (baby food jars are perfect) and add three drops of food coloring. (One blue and two red for the purple.) Shake until all the sugar is colored. Decorate the cake with the colored sugars, alternating colors in broad stripes.
Makes two round king cakes, about 9 inches in diameter.
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