Fat Tuesday, or Mardi Gras is next Tuesday, March 4th, 2014. You know what that means? There will be lots of partying with Hurricanes, King Cake, and Cajun food over the coming week. If you are not going to be in New Orleans for the festivities, there is still time to make a King Cake, and "get your beads on." Laissez Les Bon Temps Roulez !
I have never been to NOLA, but hope to get there one day, and it's on my bucket list. I had made King Cake before for my Bunco Group many years ago. Here is the back story. When I was in the corporate world in Inside Sales for a major corporation, part of my territory was Louisiana and I had many customers in NOLA and the surrounding areas. Preceding Mardi Gras one year, I received not one but two King Cakes via Fed Ex, and each one was different, and equally delicious, and that's when I l fell in love with King Cake. I kept some the decorations that were on those cakes and here they are.. (I'm a keeper, but not a hoarder.)
There are three basic symbols that every King cake has; the baby, which represents the Christ child, the beads, and the the three colors of Mardi Gras, Purple for Justice and Passion, Green for Faith, and Gold for Power. A miniature ceramic or plastic baby is hidden in the cake, and whoever finds it, has to have the next party or buy the next King Cake. If you don't have a baby, you can use a nut in place of it. There are many versions of the King Cake, and each bakery does theirs a little different. On one of the King Cakes that I received, it had a Crown for King Rex and a Chalice. If you would like more information for the King Cake or Mardi Gras information, use this link Mardi Gras History .
Back to the King Cake, Most of you know that I don't do yeast recipes. I had a fear of yeast, except that I made this cake once, a long time ago. It's like doing wallpaper to me. You don't do it that often, and you forget all the steps, and how to do it, until you're almost done. I didn't know how the yeast was supposed to look "foaming" , because the recipe that I used had you combine the yeast, sugar, butter, egg yolks, and warmed milk in the bowl and slowly mix in the stand mixer with the bread hook for four minutes. Oh My! I was hoping that the yeast gods were smiling on me. I wished that I had Monet', or Brandie, or Sandra's phone number to call for help. I did call my son the Chef/Baker who has yeast rolls, and said that everything should be fine. In the end everything did work out, but I started at 1;30pm and finally got the sugar on the glaze about 7:30PM. I did have a nap, while during the first rise of the dough.:) I kept thinking about all of you out there, who bake wonderful yeast breads and rolls, how do you do it?
There are many different types and versions of King Cakes, and there is not one "Official" recipe. I adapted a recipe from Emeril LaGasse, because he used a cream cheese filling.
King Cake Adapted from of Emeril Lagasse, Food Network
- 2 packages dry active yeast
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- 5 egg yolks
- 1 cup warm milk(110 degrees F)
- 4 to 5 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
- Vegetable oil
- 8 ounces cream cheese
- 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
- Juice of one lemon
- 2 tablespoons milk
- Purple, green and gold sugar sprinkles
- Plastic baby toy
Preheat the oven 350 degrees F. Combine the yeast, sugar, butter, and egg yolks in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook. Add the milk. With the mixer on low speed, beat the mixture for about 4 minutes to dissolve the yeast. If the yeast mixture doesn't begin to foam after a few minutes, it means it's not active and will have to be replaced. In a separate large mixing bowl, combine the flour, salt, nutmeg, and lemon zest. Add this mixture to the yeast mixture.
Mix on low speed until it lightly comes together, then increase the speed to medium and beat until the mixture pulls away from the sides of the bowl, forms a ball, and climbs slightly up the dough hook. Remove the dough from the bowl. Coat the dough with vegetable oil. Return the dough to the bowl and turn it to oil all sides. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, set in a warm, draft-free place, and let rise until doubled in size, about 2 hours
. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine the cream cheese and 1/2 cup powdered sugar. Mix well. In another small bowl, combine the remaining powdered sugar, lemon juice and milk. Mix well and set aside. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface. Roll the dough out 30 inches long and 6 inches wide. Spread the cream cheese filling across the center of the dough. Bring the two long edges together and seal all sides completely.
Using your hands shape the dough into a long cylinder and place on a greased baking sheet, seam side down. Shape the dough into a ring. Cover the ring with a towel and place in a warm, draft free place. Let the dough rise for about 45 minutes or until the dough doubles in size. Place in the oven and bake for 30 minutes, or until golden brown. Allow the cake to cool. Drizzle the cake with the sugar glaze Sprinkle the cake with sprinkles, alternating colors.