Cake fit for a king: How Bennison’s makes its Mardi Gras treat
February 12, 2015
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It is 7 a.m., and while most Northwestern students are still dreaming sweet dreams or perhaps nightmares about their midterms, the workers at Bennison’s Bakery are up and about, baking paczkis, macaroons, danishes, coffee cakes and, during this season, king cakes.
In anticipation of Mardi Gras on Feb. 17, Bennison’s has been making king cakes for the past two weeks. The bakery also made the cakes in the beginning of January for the Epiphany which is celebrated by Christians on Jan. 6 in honor of the three wise men visiting Jesus.
“We make two different kinds (of king cakes),” bakery owner Jory Downer said. “(We make) the French kind which is called Galette de Rois. We also make them in the more northern (American) style.”
The French king cake is created by layering pastry with almond frangipane, an almond paste. It is then glazed with sugar and topped with a crown.
Bennison’s gave The Daily an inside look at the creation of the American version of king cake.
1. The first step in the process is the creation of the dough. After made, the dough must sit for about 24 hours.
2.Once the dough is chilled, it is stretched out with a machine. Arturo Okana, a Bennison’s worker, guides the dough through the machine.
3. Once the dough is stretched out, Okana spreads on a cinnamon paste. This paste is the filling for the cake.
4. The dough is put through a machine which cuts it into strips. Okana braids the strips.
5. The braided strips are twisted into ovals. The dough then takes about two hours to rise before it is baked.
6. After the dough is baked, Filemon Vega, a Bennison’s worker, cuts a hole in the cake. He places a plastic baby, which is a symbol for good luck, in each cake.
7. Vega continues to prepare cake by spreading on frosting. Bennison’s offers five different topping flavors.
8. Vega decorates the cakes with Mardi Gras-colored sprinkles. Each color symbolizes a different value.
9. The finished cakes are ready to be packaged. Bennison’s sells these cakes specifically at this time of year.
10. The French type of king cake is different than the American kind because it is filled with almond frangipane instead of cinnamon paste. It is topped with a crown.