February 9, 2012

Traditional New Orleans King Cake

King Cake

We were recently invited to a poker night and asked to bring something for everyone to share and among the other foods around the snack table, a king cake made it’s colorful appearance.  In all my years alive I’d never heard of such a cake so I was excited to try it!  It’s very similar to a cinnamon roll, but in cake-like form, with a coating of colored sugar that adds a sweet crunch to the doughy cinnamon ring. 

A king cake is generally associated with Mardi Gras, served as a pre-Lenten celebration.  Mardi Gras is French for Fat Tuesday and refers to the practice of the last night of eating richer, fatty foods before the ritual fasting of the Lenten season, which begins on Ash Wednesday. 

My good friend Kelli invited me to her house to make this cake and show me the method that she found at Taste of Home.  While time consuming it’s not particularly hard but with the two, one-hour rise times, you’ll want to allow yourself a full morning or afternoon to complete this one.

Ingredients

  • 2 packs (1/4 oz. each) active dry yeast
  • 1/2 cup warm water (110-120 degrees)
  • 3/4 cup sugar, divided
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup warm 2% milk (110-120 degrees)
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon peel
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 3 1/4 to 3 3/4 cups flour (I used about a cup or two more)
  • 1 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 egg, beaten

Glaze

  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice (I used 1 teaspoons)
  • 2-3 Tablespoons water
  • Green, purple, and yellow sugars

Directions

  1. 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).
  2. 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. 
  3. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour.
  4. Punch dough down.  Turn onto a lightly floured surface.  Roll into a 16 x 10 inch rectangle. 
  5. 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; pinch seam to seal.  Place seam side down on a greased baking sheet; pinch ends together to form a ring. 
  6. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 1 hour. 
  7. Brush with egg, then bake at 375* degrees for 25-30  minutes or until golden brown.  Cool completely on a wire rack. 
  8. For glaze, combine the powdered sugar, lemon juice and enough water to achieve desired consistency.  Spread over cake. 
  9. Sprinkle with colored sugars.

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