King's Cake with Almonds and Candied Citrus Zest
- 1 (0.25-ounce) packet active dry yeast
- 3/4 cup warm milk
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 6 eggs, at room temperature
- 1 1/2 sticks butter (12 tablespoons), melted and cooled, divided
- 1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon almond extract
- 1 3/4 cup toasted sliced almonds, divided
- 5 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 lemon
- 1 orange
- 1/2 cup plus 1 teaspoon sugar
- Coin or small figurine, (optional)
Meanwhile, using a vegetable peeler, peel long strips of zest from lemon and orange. Take care to remove as little of the white pith as possible. Cut zest into thin strips, then transfer to a small saucepan. Add 1/2 cup of the granulated sugar and 1/2 cup water and bring to a gentle simmer. Cook until liquid is reduced by half, about 15 minutes. Strain out zest and transfer to a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Sprinkle with remaining 1 teaspoon granulated sugar. Set zest and citrus syrup aside.
When dough has risen, uncover bowl, punch down dough and let rest for 5 minutes. Use 1 tablespoon of the remaining butter to grease a large piece of parchment paper and your hands. Turn dough out onto buttered parchment, then use your hands to divide dough into two equal portions and shape into two 18-inch logs. Twist logs over one another to create a rope, then circle ends together to create a ring and pinch together. Brush lightly with 1 tablespoon of the remaining butter and allow to rise until doubled in size, about 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 350°F and move rack to center of oven. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until golden brown and cooked through. Remove from oven and brush with remaining 1 tablespoon butter. Hide the figurine, if using, by poking it up through the bottom of the cake. Set aside on rack to cool completely, then brush with reserved citrus syrup and sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup toasted almonds and reserved citrus zest.
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