I have attempted gluten-free King Cakes before, but never with much success.
The Problem: Traditional King Cake recipes typically use a roll out dough, which is rolled into long strips and braided, or flattened, stuffed with filling and rolled, then ultimately shaped into the signature King Cake ring. But getting gluten-free dough to stay together when rolled out into long or flat pieces is a huge challenge in and of itself, not to mention doing so with a yeast-laden dough which is still intended to rise.
The Solution: After too many failed attempts at converting a traditional King Cake recipe into a gluten-free, dairy free version, I did some serious homework. With a fav. Bette Hagman cookbook in hand, I set out to not just altering, but recreating a King Cake recipe to accommodate my gluten and casein intolerances.
The Sacrifice: Sadly, I did have to forgo rolling out the dough, and give up the King Cake’s ring shape in favor of a lighter, stickier dough so that the yeast could rise. Which I baked in traditional bread loaf pans (one I did in a Le Creuset and the other in a metal pan, in trials shown I also tried a circular variety in an oven-safe glass dish, but the yeast did not hold after it was cut), though I imagine that if I had a ring shaped pan, like an angel food cake pan, that might have also worked. But giving up on rolling out the dough did result in that lighter, more airy type of King Cake like the one McKenzie’s used to make–remember their plain King Cakes which had no icing, just colored sugars and cherries with sprinkles on each end?
Dusting Flour (for the pans):
- 1 T rice flour
- 1/2 T tapioca starch
- 1/2 t potato starch
- 1 cup white rice flour
- 3/4 cup tapioca starch
- 1/4 cup potato starch
- 1 and 1/2 t xanthan gum
- 1 t sugar
- 1 and 1/2 t yeast
- 1/4 cup warm water (105-110 degrees for the yeast)
- 1 scoop powdered soy milk (Isomil so that it is dairy free, you could prob. use reg. powdered milk)
- 1/4 cup warm water
- 1/2 cup EarthBalance butter spread warmed to room temperature
- 1/4 cup natural cane sugar
- 1 T raw agave nectar
- 1/2 t apple cider vinegar
- 3 drops anise extract (more will make it taste too much like licorice)
- 2 eggs + 1 egg white
- purple, green and gold sugars to top (grind each finely in a coffee grinder)
- a bit of ground cinnamon
Step 1 (pans): Grease and flour the pans. I used EarthBalance spread on a paper towel and gently swiped each side of the pans with this, then gently dusted the buttered pans with the Dusting Flour and set aside.
Step 2 (dry ingredients): Mix together rice flour, tapioca starch, potato starch and xanthan gum and set aside.
Step 3 (yeast): In a separate dish, 1/4 cup of water warmed to appropriate yeast developing temp (105-110 degrees), sprinkle in yeast and teaspoon of sugar. Set aside.
Step 4 (butter/sugar): In a mixing bowl, add powdered milk, 1/4 cup of water, EarthBalance, sugar and agave nectar. Blend with a mixer on low.
Step 5 (eggs): Add in eggs and egg white and mix.
Step 6 (extract, developer): Add in the few drops of anise extract (use a dropper if necessary, as too much anise will leave the cake tasting like licorice) and the half teaspoon of cider vinegar. Mix.
Step 7 (yeast, flour): Add in yeast mixture and mix on high for a few minutes, adding in the flour mixture 1/4 cup at a time.
Step 8 (cinnamon): Sprinkle in a bit of ground cinnamon. Mix.
Step 9 (spoon into pans): This amount of dough will make two loaf pans worth of King Cake. Divide the dough in half. Coat your hands with some EarthBalance or oil and gently divide the dough into your two bread pans (or one Angel Food Cake pan) and pat each side with the oil. Cover the pans tightly with plastic wrap and allow them to sit somewhere warm for the yeast to rise for 70 minutes (or if using rapid rising yeast, half the time should be sufficient) the dough should be about double in size by baking time, though with the gluten-free recipe, it may be a bit less than doubled. For this step, I set the oven on 350 to preheat and turned on the light over the stove top, then placed my pans on top of the stove to let rise.
Step 10 (sprinkle): After the 70 minutes dispose of the plastic coverings and, grind and sprinkle your colored sugars. The King Cake I tried to recreate had a finer sugar, so I bought a multi-pack of colored sugar, and then took my purple, green and yellow sugars and ground each separately on a fine setting in my coffee grinder to create more powdery sugars. I then sprinkles (using a measuring spoon and tapping it gently) a row of purple, a row of green and then a row of gold (yellow), and repeat until the King Cake tops were fully coated. Keep the leftover sugar to re-coat the King Cakes after baking.
Step 11 (bake): Bake the sprinkled King Cakes for 10 minutes at 350 uncovered, then after the first 10 minutes, place a piece of foil over each pan to cover the cakes to prevent the dough from browning and bake for the remaining 30 minutes (40 minutes at 350 in total) on the middle oven rack.
Step 12 (cool, serve): Remove the King Cakes from the oven, uncover and sprinkle on more colored sugar as needed. Allow the King cakes to cool, and do not store in an airtight container until the second day after baking. Serve immediately after baking, at room temperature within few days of baking, or after gently warming in the microwave. Slice like bread.
Traditionally King Cakes also come with a plastic baby inside, and whomever gets the baby is to buy the next King Cake, or some people I hear use a bean. LOL, but since I am the only one I know baking gluten and dairy free King Cakes this year, I decided to save our teeth!