What a King Cake Flop Taught Me About Trying Again

If you’re from Louisiana and like to cook, and you haven’t heard of the Cajun Ninja, do yourself a favor and go check out some of his videos! I love to cook and consider myself to be a pretty good at-home chef, but I have to admit that I’ve learned a lot from watching his videos and trying out the recipes myself.

So when he posted a video for homemade king cake, and I saw that the recipe had cream cheese right in the dough, I knew it was a must make. I immediately went to the store to gather up the ingredients that I didn’t already have on hand and set to work. 

Friends, it was an immediate fail. Immediate. What’s worse, is that I knew it was an immediate fail, and yet carried on till the end, knowing that it was going to be a big, fat, king cake failure. I knew almost right away that I had made a mistake with the yeast, and knew that the dough probably wasn’t going to rise, but still, onward I trudged. I can only compare this sort of error to taking your kid out when it’s going to be past their bedtime: you know it is going to end poorly, but still, you do it anyways. 

FAIL Cake. What even is this pale chunk with pink sprinkles? A disaster. That’s what.

I suppose you could argue that I was showing great “stick-to-it-ivenss” in that I did not abandon the project. That I was persistent, or something like that. But the thing is, in this case, and in many others, it’s sometimes okay to quit and start over. 

As soon as I realized that I had made a mistake, right there, in the beginning, I should have tossed the ingredients and started over. Would that have been a headache and aggravation? Yep. But not nearly as big as the aggravation of taking a king cake out of the oven that was a dense un-risen brick and having to throw it out while two little kids cried over not getting to have any. 

I wonder how many times in life – personally and professionally, I may have done the same sort of thing. Times when I knew I had messed up, or made a poor decision, and stuck by it through sheer stubbornness to a disastrous end? 

I’m here to say, in times like these, it is a-okay to quit and start again.

Two days after the king cake disaster of 2020, I got out all of the ingredients again, did a little more research on making sure bread will rise, and tried again. I took my time. I was careful, I was precise. I was not in a hurry. 

MUCH Better

After the two hours of waiting for the dough to rise, I knew it was worth it! It looked exactly as it was supposed to and smelled heavenly. Another hour or so of prep time and we had a beautiful ring of a traditional king cake in the oven. I have never had fresh out of the oven, still warm, king cake until that day.

And y’all. It was amazing. I do not doubt that it would have been delicious if I had gotten it right the first time. But after failing so miserably the first time, success was even sweeter. 

My children were there both times, helping me to make these king cakes. They witnessed my frustration and disappointment at my failure. They saw me very upset throwing that first king cake in the trash can. What I hope they remember though, is that even though they saw Mommy fail and mess up pretty badly, they also saw me try again and get it right. 

My daughter helping me both times. You can tell the difference in how much the dough has risen in the second one.

I know it was “just” a king cake, but it applies to say many things, especially in parenting. I will fail many times over before they are out of the house. They will see me mess up. I must also let them see me try again and get it right.

Interested in trying out the king cake recipe that I made? Click here to watch the video. Oh, and learn from my mistakes – make sure the water that you add your yeast to is not hot, but lukewarm and let the butter/cream cheese mixture cool down all the way. Enjoy friends! Happy Mardi Gras!

Sarah Vorhies is a self-proclaimed foodie who has been married to her husband Justin for ten years. Sarah and Justin have two beautiful children, Lillian and Judah. Sarah stayed close to home and got her degree in English Education from Southeastern Louisiana University. She can honestly say she is never bored thanks to one of the most fun jobs ever - teaching 11th grade American Literature. She enjoys traveling, reading, finding new recipes on Pinterest, and spending quality time with her family.


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