Often in the run up to Twelfth Night or the Epiphany we make a king cake. It’s a cake associated with the arrival of the three wise men, kings or magi to visit Jesus. It’s a type of cake that’s very popular over Europe (especially France and Spain) and many countries associated with European settlers. It’s a sort of cakey-bread, if you know what I mean, think hot cross buns or brioche. Sometimes the cake features some sort of thing to find inside the cake like a little figurine or a trinket, a bit like a Christmas pudding. The idea being that whoever finds it is ‘king for a day’.
- 85g citrus candied peel, chopped
- 100g raisin
- 50g pine nut
- 50g glacé cherry
- 5 tbsp rum, sherry or brandy (whatever you have in the house is fine)
- 7g easybake yeast
- 500g strong white bread flour
- 50g golden caster sugar
- 0.5 teaspoon of salt
- 2.5 teaspoons of ground mixed spice
- 85g of (softened) butter cut into small pieces
- 1 egg
- 250ml milk
For the glaze
- 2 tablespoons apricot jam
- 1 tablespoon water
For the sugars
- Granulated Sugar
- Food colourings
- Soak the peel, raisins, pine nuts and cherries in alcohol either overnight or for a few hours at least. You can miss this section out if you don’t want the alcohol, but I’d suggest soaking for a while in fruit juice instead to make the fruits nice and juicy.
- Put your ingredients into the breadmaker pan (except the soaked fruits and nuts) in the correct order for the machine. My machine like the wet ingredients first.
- Select the dough setting that allows you to add raisins part way through the dough process if there is one. Otherwise add the fruit mix towards the end of the dough kneading, so they are mixed in, but the texture isn’t destroyed by the kneading blade. Alternatively add them yourself when you do step 4.
- Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface. Knock out the air and knead a little.
- Shape the loaf – often King Cakes are ring-shaped. Place on a lightly buttered baking sheet. Cover with oiled cling film and leave in a warm place for 30 minutes or until it has roughly doubled in size.
- Preheat the oven to 170 degrees (fan oven) or 190 degrees or Gas Mark 5.
- Bake for around 45 minutes.
- Get the cake out of the oven and place on a cooling tray.
- Make some coloured sugars by mixing granulated sugar with a drop or two of food colouring in an empty jam jar. Shake till the colour is well mixed – add more sugar or more colouring to get the shades you want. Purple, green and gold (yellow) are traditional, but I use whatever I have to hand.
- Heat the apricot jam with the water and brush this on as a glaze.
- Sprinkle the sugars over the glazed cake. This is usually done in blocks of colour to create a sort of striped effect.