Super Fat Tuesday King Cake

I was planning on getting together with some people to socialize and pretend to watch election returns on Super Tuesday for a while now. I honestly hadn't even realized it was Mardi Gras, but an e-mail went out to the group asking if we should try to get a king cake for the occasion. There are a few vegans among the group, so I shot one back and volunteered to bake it so that the vegans could happily partake. I'm a decent cook, it's a cake, how hard could it be, right? I even looked up a few recipes and it seemed like a few steps but nothing overly complicated. Let me say right now: this was one labor-intensive motherfucker of a cake. I ended up using this recipe, which I modified marginally: a little more sugar, a little more filling, and oil instead of egg replacer. I also used some Fleischman's Unsalted margarine instead of Earth Balance because I had it in sticks and that's easier for me to measure, obviously.

I did take the suggestion in the recipe of rolling it out on the formica countertop, which worked surprisingly well. I did not, however, take the suggestion of using my stand mixer's dough hook because I don't have a stand mixer. Insert lamentations here. There was a lot of kneading and wrestling with dough, but the result was really worth it. My glaze was a little lumpy, my sprinkles were less than brilliant, but the cake was really, really delicious.

I think one of the greatest compliments a vegan can get on her cooking is the one I got last night. "Did you say this is vegan?! I totally can't even tell." Several other non-vegans made similar comments, one of them even expressing his annoyance at me for bringing something he couldn't stop eating. On one hand, it's sad that people have low expectations of vegan food. If someone is a good cook, you shouldn't be able to tell that something is vegan, especially baked goods. There are so many good substitutes for the basics, like eggs and butter, that the finished product should be indistinguishable from the normal variety. On the other hand, it's nice to have the opportunity to change those perceptions, even just a little bit. The cake was HUGE (it turns out the recipe was supposed to be for two: oops) but when I left there was maybe a fourth of it left. So, while it wasn't the prettiest cake, I feel like it was definitely a success.

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