Apple-Goat Cheese King Cake

Apple-Goat Cheese King Cake

New Orleans is home to lots and lots of awesome food, and plenty of it is stuff most tourists never get to enjoy. Take Cake Cafe, a wonderful bakery and breakfast spot in the Marigny neighborhood. When I lived in the city pre-Katrina, I hadn’t even heard of this place; it was only on a trip a few years ago that a friend who lives nearby took me there.

So I was surprised to see the place mentioned on Serious Eats, in a post about its apple-and-goat-cheese-filled king cake. This thing is pretty decadent: cream cheese filling, goat cheese, brown sugar and cinnamon, and apples—it’s like four king cakes in one!

Too bad Serious Eats didn’t score an actual recipe. So I had to come up with one myself. I started with the dough from CHOW with a few adjustments (mine’s a bit sweeter, and theirs doesn’t measure the flour by weight, plus I went with a mix of almond and vanilla extract), and then kinda winged it based on Serious Eats’ photos.

The result was a pretty huge success, if I do say so myself. The tangy cheese and tart apples combine beautifully in the filling, whose richness provides a nice counterpoint to the bready cake. (Don’t take this as a knock; king cake is supposed to be bready.)And you’ve got two days left before Mardi Gras, so get baking!

Apple-Goat Cheese King Cake, sliced

Apple-Goat Cheese King Cake

1 cup whole milk, warm
1 tbsp. (or 1 packet) active dry yeast
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. orange zest
4 egg yolks, beaten
2 tbsp. bourbon
2 tbsp. orange juice
1 tsp. almond extract
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/2 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
23 oz. (about 5 cups) all-purpose flour
1 stick (8 tbsp.) butter, cut into pieces

1 (8-oz.) package cream cheese
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 pinch salt
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
6 oz goat cheese
1 large or 2 small Granny Smith apples, cored and sliced

1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup milk
1 tbsp. bourbon
Yellow, green, and purple food coloring

1 plastic baby

Make the dough: Add the milk and yeast to the bowl of a mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment and let stand until frothy (about 5 minutes). Add the sugar and the next 8 ingredients (through nutmeg), and mix on medium speed until well combined. Turn the speed to low and add the flour a bit at a time. As the flour incorporates and the dough begins to form a ball, turn the heat up to medium and knead until the dough is smooth and pulls away cleanly from the side of the bowl, about 5 minutes. (You may need to add a little extra flour if the dough is very sticky.) Add the butter a few pieces at a time, kneading until fully incorporated after each addition. Form the dough into a ball and transfer to a large bowl coated with cooking spray. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for 1 hour. Punch down the dough, form into a ball, cover, and let rise for 1 hour again.

While the dough rises, prepare the filling ingredients: Add the cream cheese, sugar, salt, and vanilla extract to the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat on high speed until fully combined and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Set aside. In a separate bowl, stir together the brown sugar and cinnamon, and set aside.

Apple-Goat Cheese King Cake assemblyAfter the dough finishes its second rise, preheat the oven to 350° F. On a lightly floured surface, punch down the dough and roll into a rough rectangle about 18 inches long by 8 inches wide. Spread the cream cheese mixture evenly across the surface and then dot with crumbled goat cheese. Spread the apple slices across the middle of the rectangle and sprinkle with the brown sugar mixture. Fold the dough over the filling, pressing the edges together to seal, then roll lightly to form a tube. Bring the edges of the tube together to form an oval shape and press together to seal. Place the cake on a baking sheet lined with a Silpat or parchment paper and place in the oven with the door ajar for 3-5 minutes. (The dough should puff up a bit—this makes for a lighter-textured cake.) Close the door and bake until the cake is golden brown, about 50 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool completely.

While the cake bakes, make the icing: In a bowl, stir together the powdered sugar, milk, and bourbon. Divide the mixture evenly among three small bowls. Color the contents of one bowl green, one yellow, and one purple. (Don’t be a afraid to be generous with the food coloring—you want the color to look pretty intense and artificial.) Once the cake is cool, hide the baby in it by inserting from the bottom so the hole won’t be visible. Drizzle each color of icing over the top, waiting a minute or two in between colors for the icing to dry out and harden a bit.

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