Mardi Gras is always a fun celebration of food and drink and there a number of traditional New Orleans dishes that folks enjoy. A good friend an Louisiana native, Dave Baricos, suggested crawfish bread as a new item to add to my party. I loved the idea but decided to give the traditional recipe a bit of a twist. Rather than preparing it in a sliced baguette, I created my own bread and “braided” it over the creamy and cheesy crawfish filling. It’s a tasty alternative and so far has gotten good reviews. I’ve also included my king cake recipe and a traditional hurricane cocktail recipe. Enjoy!
makes two 12” long woven breads
bread dough (makes two loaves)
1 pkg Active Dry Yeast
1 1/3 cu Warm Water, about 110 degrees
1 tbl Brown Sugar
4 cu All Purpose Flour
1 tsp Salt
1 1/2 tsp Olive Oil, plus additional to oil bowl for proofing
2 tbl Butter
1 1/2 cu Onions
1 cu Celery
1 cu Green Pepper
2 cloves Garlic
1 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp Pepper
1 tsp Dried Oregano
1 1/2 tsp Creole Seasoning
1 tsp Cayenne Pepper
1 lb Precooked Crawfish Tails, rinsed and drained
2 tbl Louisiana Hot Sauce
2 tbl Creole Mustard
1/4 cu Heavy Cream
1/4 cu Green Onions, sliced
1/4 cu Flat Leaf Parsley, roughly chopped
1 1/2 cu Shredded Colby Jack Cheese
2 cu cu Shredded Mozzarella Cheese
1 lg Egg, beaten
Mix yeast with the brown sugar and 2 tablespoons of flour. Add 1/3 cup of the warm water. Stir to combine. Add olive oil and let rest for 10 minutes. Separately, mix remaining flour and salt in a large bowl. Add yeast mixture and remaining water and combine into a dough. If dough is dry and not coming together, add water, about 1/2 teaspoon at a time until its fully combined. Knead dough for 10 minutes on a lightly floured board.
Pour an additional 2 teaspoons of olive oil in a large bowl for proofing. Place dough in bowl and turn to coat all surfaces. Cover with a towel and let the dough rise for 1 hour until doubled in bulk. Punch down, divide in half. Work each half separately.
To make the crawfish filling, heat butter in a large saucepan over medium low heat. Add onions, green pepper and celery and sauté until ingredients begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and continue to sauté for an additional 5 minutes. Add salt, pepper, oregano, creole seasoning and cayenned pepper. Stir to combine. Increase heat to medium and add crawfish, hot sauce and mustard. Sauté until any extra liquid from the crawfish has cooked away. Stir in hot sauce and creole mustard. Once fully incorporated, add cream and parsley. Sauté until most of the moisture has cooked away, about 3-5 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool for about 10 minutes. Stir in cheddar cheese and 1 1/2 cups of mozzarella cheese. Set aside.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Roll out each half of dough on a lightly floured board to roughly a 12” square. Transfer to a sheet of parchment. Cut 1” wide strips 3 1/2” long down opposing sides of the dough. Place half of the filling down the center of the dough. Top with remaining mozzarella cheese. Pull each end up and over about a 1” portion of the filling.
Starting at one end, pull the strips up and across the filling, alternating form one side to the other so that strips looked weaved. Tuck the ends of the final strips under the loaf. Transfer the loaf and parchment to a baking shee. Brush the entire surface of the loaf with the beaten egg. Repeat with second loaf.
Bake for 25-30 minutes or until the surface is golden brown. Remove from oven and let loaf rest for 20 minutes before slicing and serving.
Mardi Gras Braided King Cake
makes 1 braided cake
1/2 cu Water 105-110 degrees F
1 pkg Active Dry yeast
2 tbl Sugar
2 tbl All Purpose Flour
4 tbl Butter
4 tbl Cream Cheese
1/4 cu Skim Milk
3 1/2 - 4 cu Flour (plus extra for kneading)
2 lg Eggs, slightly beaten, room temperature
1/2 tsp Salt
1 tsp Cinnamon
1 tbl Cinnamon
1/2 cu Sugar
3 tbl Butter, melted
2 cu Powdered Sugar
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
4 tbl Skim Milk
1 1/2 cu Sugar
3 Sealable Plastic Bags or Containers
12 Drops Yellow Food Coloring
12 Drops Green Food Coloring
10 Drops Red Food Coloring
6 Drops Blue Food Coloring
1" Plastic Baby Toy (optional, can be found at party supply stores in baby shower accessories)
Place yeast, 2 tablespoons of sugar, and 2 tablespoons of flour in a medium sized bowl and stir to combine. Be sure that water is between 105 and 110 degrees F and pour it over mixture. Stir to combine and set aside for 10 minutes.
Mix butter, cream cheese and milk in a small saucepan over medium low heat. Stir and mash the cream cheese until all ingredients are smooth and blended together. Remove from heat and set aside to cool. Mixture should be cool to room temperature before using.
Combine 3 cups of flour, salt and cinnamon in a large bowl. Add eggs, yeast mixture and cooled butter mixture. Stir to combine. Add additional flour until mixture is tacky but not sticky (you may add as much a 1 full cup). Knead dough for about 10 minutes, adding additional flour if necessary, until smooth. Form dough into a ball.
Butter the bottom and sides of a large bowl. Place dough in bowl and roll it in butter on all sides. Cover with a towel and let dough rise for 1 1/2 hours, until doubled in bulk. Punch the dough down and then roll it out on a large work surface to form a 20" x 14" rectangle. Cut the rectangle into 3 equal sized long rectangles 20" by about 4 2/3" . Brush the surface with the 3 tablespoons of melted butter. Combine 1 tablespoon of cinnamon with 1/2 cup of sugar. Sprinkle about a 2" wide line of the mixture down the entire length of each strip along one side. Starting on the sugar coated edge, roll each strip into a 20" long tube. Pinch the seams to seal the tube along the length. Laying the three tubes side by side with the seams on the bottom, braid them together. Shape the braided piece into a circle on a baking sheet and pinch together the beginning and end of each tube to form a continuous braid. Cover with a towel and let dough rise for an additional 45 minutes.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Once dough has risen, bake for 30-35 minutes, or until golden brown and cake has a hollow sound when you thump it. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely. Once the cake has cooled, push the plastic baby into the bottom (optional).
To make colored sugars, please 1/2 cup of granulated sugar in each of three sealable plastic bags (or containers). Add 12 drops of yellow food coloring in one bag. Seal the bag and shake vigorously to evenly color the sugar, being sure to break up any clumps with your fingers. Repeat the process with a second bag using 12 drops of green food coloring. With the last bag, combine 10 drops of red and 6 drops of blue food coloring to create purple. Set sugars aside.
In a medium sized bowl, combine powdered sugar, vanilla and milk. Mixture should be pourable but not runny (a bit thicker than syrup). If it's too thin, add more powdered sugar. Place cooled cake on a wire rack over parchment paper. Using a pastry brush, drizzle and liberally brush the icing on all sides of the cake. Use all of the icing, even though some with drip onto the parchment. Immediately sprinkle sugars over icing in alternating rows of green, yellow and purple.
Makes 1 cocktail
2 1/2 oz Dark Rum
2 1/2 oz Light Rum
4 oz Passion Fruit Syrup
1/2 oz Fresh Squeezed Lemon Juice
1 oz Fresh Squeezed Orange Juice
1/2 oz Fresh Squeezed Lime Juice
Splash of Grenadine
1 thin slice each Lemon, Orange and Lime
1 Maraschino Cherry
Tall Straws, optional
Fill a hurricane glass or tall glass with ice and a slice of orange, lemon and lime. Set aside. Pour rums, passion fruit, lemon juice, orange juice, lime juice and grenadine into a shaker with crushed ice. Vigorously shake for about a minute. Strain mixture into hurricane glass, add a straw, top with cherry and serve.
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