Ted King can finally make his cake and eat it too. The former tough guy of the pro peloton just announced he will retire from the sport in the fall. What does he plan to do with his newfound free time? Bake. And eat.
Ted King has been whipping up confections for years in secret. Now he’s ready to come out of the baking closet, whisks blazing.
“Yeah, I definitely didn’t go through college telling people that I loved to bake,” he says. “It’s not the most robustly manly thing I do. But I do think it’s pretty badass to know your way around the kitchen.”
King discovered his love for pastry at the tender age of ten when he bugged his mom one too many times to make a pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving. She suggested that maybe he could make it. So he did. (He swears it came out well.)
Baking and bike racing actually have a surprising amount in common, King says. Both require a fair amount of precision, but also an ability from the person in charge to improvise when things don’t go to plan. When, halfway through a recipe, you realize you’re one egg short, it’s not unlike having your team’s top man go down in a crash. Yes, the game has changed. But the day isn’t over. There's no calling for takeout until you’ve exhausted all other options. "I’ve always been of the school that you can kind of wing it," King says.
If calories were no object, “I'd make the richest, densest, moistest chocolate cake ever,” King says.
King admits that his love of baking probably has something to do with his reckless sweet tooth. But he has adapted many of his recipes so they fit more comfortably into his race-weight diet. For example, his flagship pumpkin pie recipe has been modified into a crustless, baked pumpkin custard. "I often swap out the evaporated milk for yogurt and add an extra egg which makes it like this unctuous custard,” King says. “I also usually sweeten it with maple syrup."
Maple syrup stars in many of the New Hampshire native's recipes, in part because it's delicious and higher in minerals than refined sugar, and in part because he's co-founder of Untapped All Natural Athletic Fuel, a company that produces energy packets filled with pure New England maple syrup. "Untapped has actually made it into some of my baked goods," he says.
King currently resides in Girona, Spain, where he works out of a European-sized (read: tiny) kitchen. He likes cooking with friends, but only if he's in charge. "There has to be delegation, otherwise it's like having two people dice the same onion." Which makes sense. On a cycling team everyone has very distinct jobs too. Delegation is the best way to make sure your guy gets the lead-out he needs to win the day.
At the moment, King is mostly baking quick breads, which he stashes in his jersey pockets for fuel during long training rides. Because it's the peak of his final racing season, there's no pumpkin pie on the horizon anytime soon. Or chocolate cake, which is what he says he'd make if calories were no object. "I'd make the richest, densest, moistest chocolate cake ever," he says.
If you’re not trying to make race weight, try this recipe for Ted King’s maple pumpkin custard. Trust us, it's best enjoyed from the comfort of your couch while watching someone else compete for the king of the mountains jersey.
Ted King’s Maple Pumpkin Custard
Says King: "Loaded with vitamins and minerals, healthy fiber, and beta carotene from the pumpkin, healthy proteins from the yogurt and eggs, plus amino acids, electrolytes, and antioxidants from maple syrup, Maple Pumpkin Custard is truly a super food."
Mix the following together in a big bowl with a whisk:
- 1/2 cup maple syrup (or about 4 UnTapped packets!)
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 1 ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
Next take one can of pumpkin puree (or really up the ante and cut a pumpkin in half, bake it for an hour, puree it, strain it in cheese cloth for an hour, and boom: homemade pumpkin puree!) and mix it into the mixture above.
Add 1/2 cup of plain yogurt and ½ cup of the milk of your choice: dairy, almond, coconut or evaporated milk will all work, as well as 3-4 eggs, beaten. Most recipes you’ll see call for 2 eggs. But I love the texture and flavor of a good custardy pie, so the more eggs the merrier. And fresh from your neighbor's farm eggs make a world of difference — they’re truly flavorful rather than just “eggy”.
If you’re up for it, melt 1/4 stick of good quality butter and mix that in as well. It adds a bit of flavor and a richer texture, but it’s also fine without it.
Mix this all together until smooth. A hand whisk should be fine, but if you’re feeling lazy, an electric whisk will really do the trick.
Pour into a baking dish. Yeah, you could do it in a pie crust, but for me the crust is just a vehicle for the rich, delicious, earthy pumpkin custard filling. To each his or her own. So pour it into something and bake for 15 minutes at 425 degrees Fahrenheit and then turn it down to 350 and bake for 40-50 minutes more. Enjoy it topped with fresh whipped cream if you’re not racing a grand tour in the next few months.