Because I was the Queen of Mardi Gras last year (I found the tiny plastic baby in my slice of cake), it fell to me to make the King Cake this year. King Cake is a traditional Mardi Gras dessert, a sweetbread in the shape of a ring, baked and frosted with colored sugars in purple, green, and gold.
I had a hard time of it. This was partially because it had been a very long time since I baked something with yeast (home ec, 7th grade, pizza dough).
On my first try, I mismeasured the flour and sugar that go into the yeast primer, because the recipe I was using had to be halved. Tossed yeast and started over.
On my second try, I primed the yeast, made the dough, and spent two hours watching the dough NOT rise. The yeast quantity in my recipe was in terms of packets, and I had drastically underestimated the amount of yeast in a packet. It's 2 1/4 teaspoons, not 1 1/4. I baked the ruined dough into some doughy biscuits and started over.
On my third try, the dough rose and I let it sit in the fridge overnight, as per the recipe. I pulled it out yesterday evening, worked it into a ring and filled it with a mix of crushed pecans and brown sugar, and set it in a warm place to rise again. It was VERY slow to rise, and I was worried I had screwed something else up (maybe it got too cold in the fridge?) but at the end of the hour it had risen.
Now I know that it probably had a good bit of cold thermal inertia to start with and I should have let it rise longer than the recipe called for, since the finished cake came out somewhat frisbee-shaped. But it tasted okay. I even colored the sugar in the old-fashioned way...1/4 cup sugar and a few drops of food coloring, shaken up in a jar.
I have a HUGE test tomorrow in systematics. It's worth 30% of my grade and I am not ready.
I am very afraid.