For as long as I can remember I have been enamored by Mardi Gras. I love the symbolism, the music, the tradition, the meaning, and mostly – the food. Of course, the food, including the King Cake.
Almost every year since I can remember I have celebrated Mardi Gras by making feasts and fare associated with Fat Tuesday. Sometimes I create New Orleans’esque fare, sometimes Shrove Tuesday inspired pancakes, or crêpes. About 7 years ago The Hubs decided to up the festivities by ordering a genuine Traditional King Cake from a well-known New Orleans bakery. It was not only a hit, but the beginning of a tradition! We have purchased a King Cake every year since!
This year I had the good fortune of having President’s Day off from work. The timing could not have been more perfect in correlation to Fat Tuesday the next day! Even more exciting was the knowledge that I had purchased some special items to make my very own King Cake the year before and my schedule didn’t permit me doing it. This year I had the time, I had the ingredients, and I was ready! I chose what seemed to be about the easiest recipe I could find and set out with the help of Daughters 3 and 4.
The ease of the recipe was not underestimated and the King Cake itself turned out better than I could have hoped for! I will make my own King Cake every year now – well, at least the next 5. I have 5 new plastic babies to put in the cakes (they came in a package of 6).
Here is the recipe I used. It is definitely easy enough for anyone with basic bread making skills.
Again, let me say how easy this cake was to make. Daughter Number 4 told me that this is the best King Cake she has ever eaten. In fact, she ate 2 pieces after dinner and asked for one for breakfast the following morning.
When you’re laying out your menu for next year’s Mardi Gras, Fat Tuesday, Shrove Tuesday, Carnival feast add this delicious morsel! Laissez les Bon Temps Roulez!
Mardi Gras King Cake
- 2 packages active dry yeast
- ½ cup warm water
- ¾ cup granulated sugar (divided)
- ½ cup butter (softened)
- ½ cup warm milk
- 2 egg yolks
- 1 ¼ teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon grated lemon peel
- ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 3 ¼ to 3 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 egg (beaten)
- 1 ½ cups powdered sugar
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice
- 2 to 3 Tablespoons water
- Green (purple, and yellow sugars)
- Small Plastic Baby (optional)
- In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Add 1/2 cup sugar, butter, milk, egg yolks, salt, lemon peel, nutmeg and 2 cups flour. Beat until smooth. Stir in enough remaining flour to form a soft dough (dough will be sticky).
- Turn onto a floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 6-8 minutes. Place in a greased bowl, turning once to grease the top. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour.
- Punch dough down. Turn onto a lightly floured surface. Roll into a 16-in. x 10-in. rectangle. Combine cinnamon and remaining sugar; sprinkle over dough to within 1/2 in. of edges. Roll up jelly-roll style, starting with a long side. If you are going to put a plastic baby in the cake do it during the rolling process. Pinch seam to seal. Place seam side down on a greased baking sheet; pinch ends together to form a ring. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 1 hour. Brush with egg.
- Bake at 375° for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown. Cool completely on a wire rack. For glaze, combine the powdered sugar, lemon juice and enough water to achieve desired consistency. Spread over cake. Sprinkle with colored sugars.
Yield: 1 cake (12 slices).