I moved to southern Louisiana three years ago, and king cake is a tradition here. It’s a very specific kind of bready treat, made during Carnival season. There’s family recipes, cultural rules and just general affection for and loyalty to king cake here. I had enough experience of king cake before the gluten intolerance kicked in to come to love it. And Carnival is important to me.
I had been a little disappointed in my local gluten-free bakery, as the baker (who’s not from around here) decided that he didn’t like the traditional texture of king cake, and made something different that he called king cake instead. Well, that’s not really how tradition works! An acquaintance offered this explanation: “King cake needs a particular texture, because it’s built to dip in your coffee in the morning to help with the hangover.” That’s not its only use, but it’s an important one!
Earlier this year, I decided that I would begin my illustrious gluten-free baking career with an attempt at king cake. Googling GF king cake didn’t bring up any usable recipes. But with the input of some loved ones who are locals, I decided to google ‘brioche’ and try to find an adaptable recipe.
We decided on this recipe at Wasabimon.com. It’s specifically a recipe for cinnamon rolls (hopefully similar in texture but different in form from king cake), and for my first attempt at baking we all decided that following the recipe exactly as it is would be a good idea.
We are all thrilled with the result! Four people so far have tried the rolls and loved them (with me being the only non-gluten-eating creature among the four). They are very tasty cinnamon rolls, and – just as importantly – they are the appropriate texture for king cake! Our one bow to traditional form with this version is that they have sugar icing and Mardi Gras colors of sugar sprinkled over them. With our next attempt (some time this Carnival season) we’re going to make adjustments to the form to make it a typical king cake, which might include rolling the pecan-cinnamon mixture in differently, adding cream cheese and making a ring-shape loaf. We’re also considering a butter brush to remove some of the cornstarch the dough gets coated in.
I am very, very excited, and wanted to share this tasty treat!