First a bit of a history lesson about the King Cake...
"The "king cake" takes its name from the biblical three kings. In Catholic liturgical tradition, the Solemnity of Epiphany - commemorated on January 6 - celebrates the visit of the Magi to the Christ Child. In the southern United States, the tradition was brought to the area by colonists from France and Spain and is associated with Carnival (also known as Mardi Gras). In the U.S. Gulf Coast since the 1950s, the most common trinket to hide in the baked King Cake has been a small plastic baby doll. While custom holds that the person who "finds" the baby will be rewarded with "good luck", that person is also traditionally responsible for bringing the King Cake to the next party or gathering.
Since I did not have a small plastic baby on hand to add to my King Cake I went with the only small plastic trinket of sorts I could find around the house. Which happened to be a small plastic heart shaped ring. Hey, whatever works! At least it's green, one of the popular Mardi Gras colors.
Lighter King Cake
For the Cake:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup Splenda brown sugar blend (or 1/2 cup brown sugar)
2 1/2 tsp. active dry yeast
1/2 cup 2% milk (warmed to about 110 degrees)
1/4 tsp. salt
3 Tbsp. unsweetened applesauce
1 Tbsp. coconut oil, melted
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 tsp. vanilla extract
For the Filling:
1/2 cup golden raisins
1/4 cup bourbon
1/4 cup and 2 Tbsp. Splenda brown sugar blend (or 3/4 cup brown sugar)
2/3 cup toasted pecans
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. grated orange zest (or 2-3 drops orange extract)
1 dry bean, small plastic baby (or small plastic green ring in my case)
For the Glaze:
1/2 cup confectioner's sugar
2 Tbsp. water
sprinkles in colors of yellow, purple, and green
Lightly grease 6-cup bundt cake pan with cooking spray or margarine. In large bowl, mix together 3/4 cup or each type of flour, sugar, yeast, and salt. Add in the warm milk, applesauce, and oil. Use a handheld mixer to beat the eggs in one at a time, making sure each egg is well incorporated in the mixture before adding the next. Stir in the vanilla.
Stir in the remaining of the flours gradually while using the handheld mixer to incorporate the flours. Continue to beat mixture about 1 minute until all is incorporated and it is starting to get really sticky and hold together well. Cover and allow mixture of dough to rest at least 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, begin making the filling. Add the raisins and bourbon to a small sauce pan and allow the raisins to plump over medium heat. For the bourbon, I used Jack Daniels Tennessee Honey Whiskey (so I used whiskey instead of bourbon technically...but it's your own personal preference) Once raisins and bourbon have been heated through, remove from heat and add brown sugar, toasted pecans (toasted lightly in a small skillet until you just start to smell them), vanilla, cinnamon, orange zest or orange extract, and small trinket of choice. Mix together. There's my little green ring thrown in right there!
Healthy Recipe Tidbits
- Used whole wheat flour in addition to all-purpose flour for extra fiber and nutrients
- Used Splenda brown sugar blend to cut back on calories and it also helps make the cake a bit more diabetic friendly. If you didn't include the icing on top, that would be another way to cut back on the sugars to make the cake more diabetic friendly.
- Whiskey (should you choose to use whiskey instead of bourbon) is fat-free and contains antioxidants and has been shown to be beneficial to those concerned with cardiovascular disease because it aids in restricting oxidation of low density lipoproteins (LPL's) in the blood which cause heart disease.