King Cake Bread Pudding

Posted by Robert on February 21st, 2017


King Cake is good.

I could end this column with that sentence. Those are the only four words I need to make my point. But my editors would complain that they aren’t getting their money’s worth, so more column inches will follow.

To expand on my original hypothesis, not only is king cake good, king cake is wildly popular in this part of the world. It’s true there are king-cake haters out there. I know a few. But my theory when it comes to king-cake haters is that they have never eaten a really good king cake.

For someone who may have migrated to this area from a remote enclave in Vermont, a king cake might be a tough pastry to explain.

Vermont guy: “So what is this king cake I keep hearing everyone rave about?”
Mississippi guy: “It’s a braided brioche that we eat around Mardi Gras time.”

“Nice. Brioche is good, but brioche is brioche. What’s the big deal?”
“Well this brioche is braided.”

“That’s nice, and…?”

“Well, it’s braided brioche with cream cheese inside.”
“That’s nice, and…?”

“Well sometimes it has fruit filling, too.”
“Like a donut?”
“No, like a king cake.

“OK, so it’s braided brioche with fruit, and cream cheese. What’s the point?”
“Well, it also has sugar on top.”
“You mean just like sprinkled sugar?”
“No, this sugar is colored.”
“Colored? Why?”
“Because it’s Mardi Gras, you know, purple, green, and gold. Oh yeah— I almost forgot— there’s a baby inside.”

“What!?”

“Yeah there’s a baby inside the king cake. Well, you don’t really see them inside the cake any more. These days they mainly put the baby on the outside of the cake because people kept eating the baby.”

“Eating the what?”
“Yeah, they kept swallowing the baby, whole.”
“Never mind. I’ll have a bagel.”

As they say in Perry County, “You just have to be from ‘around these parts’ to understand.”

As a kid growing up in South Mississippi, I knew what a king cake was, but they weren’t available very often. Our family and friends have celebrated Mardi Gras in my hometown of Hattiesburg for over 90 years, but the king cake only crept into my awareness in the 1980s.

I haven’t always been a fan of the king cake. It wasn’t until my friend Janusz opened a French bakery across the street from my office that I truly fell in love with king cake. That Frenchman can bake a brioche. His lemon-filled king cake is as good as any I have eaten in Louisiana.

People dig king cakes in these parts, and they love them in all of their forms. Our burger concept rolled out a king cake milkshake last month and it blew up like nothing we have ever seen on social media.

King cake bread pudding has been a mainstay at Crescent City Grill for over a decade. It’s our biggest seasonal dessert seller year in and year out. It’s the perfect dessert for this area. People love king cake and people love bread pudding. Put the two together and you’ve got a huge menu hit.

As I stated earlier, I haven’t always been a fan of king cake. I also used to despise bread pudding. It wasn’t until we developed our white chocolate bread pudding a couple of decades ago that I became a fan. The same goes with king cake bread pudding. I didn’t become a fan until the French bakery across the street opened, and we started using his king cakes to make our bread pudding.

Mardi Gras time is here. Celebrate! Lent is fast approaching. Eat a king cake, it will make you happy. While you’re at it, send one to your grumpy uncle in Vermont. Just don’t swallow the baby. Laissez le bon temps rouler!

 

KING CAKE BREAD PUDDING

2 cups                   milk

2 cups                   heavy whipping cream

3/4 cup                 sugar, divided

4                             egg yolks

8                             eggs

2 tsp                       vanilla

1/8 tsp                    salt

1 tsp                        cinnamon

1                               8-10” round cream cheese filled King Cake

Place the milk, cream and half of the sugar in a small sauce pot and place over medium heat. Bring this mixture to a simmer, stirring occasionally to prevent the sugar from burning. While the milk mixture is heating, place the remaining sugar, egg yolks, whole eggs, vanilla and salt into a stainless steel mixing bowl. Using a wire whisk, beat the egg mixture until it become light yellow in color. Slowly begin adding the hot milk to the beaten eggs, whisking constantly to prevent the eggs from cooking.

Cut the King Cake into two inch thick slices.

Pour half of the custard into a two-quart round Pyrex baking dish (nine-inch diameter).

Submerge the King cake slices into the custard. Pour the remaining custard over the top and cover the baking dish. Cover and refrigerate over night.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Remove the covering from the refrigerated bread pudding and gently press down the King Cake so that the custard completely covers the surface. Cover the bread pudding with a piece of parchment paper, and then cover the paper with a piece of aluminum foil.

In a roasting pan large enough to hold the Pyrex dish, place two inches of hot water. Place the Pyrex dish in the water and bake for 40 minutes. Remove the foil and parchment paper and bake for 10 additional minutes.

Remove from the oven and allow the pudding to rest for one hour before serving.

Garnish with sugar that has been colored with purple, green, and gold food coloring and serve with Brandy Crème Anglaise

Yield: 8-10 servings

 

Brandy Crème Anglaise

1 cup                 cream

1/2 cup             half and half

1/4 cup             brandy

3/4 cup            sugar, divided

4 egg                 yolks

1 tsp                  vanilla extract

In a stainless steel pot bring the cream, half and half, brandy, half of the sugar and to vanilla a simmer. While it is heating, combine the yolks and remaining sugar in a mixing bowl and whip until pale yellow in color.

Slowly begin adding the cream mixture into to yolks, stirring constantly until all the milk has cream mixture has been added. Pour the mixture back into the sauce pot and cook over a low-medium flame stirring constantly. Cook until the mixture becomes thick enough to coat a spoon or spatula.

Remove from the heat and cool down in an ice bath.

This sauce may be made two-three days in advance.

Yield: 8-10 servings

 


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