Sunday, February 23, 2014

King Cake

Mardi Gras season begins on January 6, of each year and ends on Fat Tuesday, the day before Lent. One of the wonderful traditions of Mardi Gras, and probably the most delicious, is the King Cake.

On the Christian calendar, the 12th day after Christmas is celebrated as the date that the gift-bearing Magi visited the baby Jesus. This day, January 6, is known by several names, including "Epiphany", "Twelfth Night", or "Kings Day". The celebration of this event has evolved over the centuries, with each culture adding its own unique rituals. The New Orleans tradition, borrowing heavily from European influences, is believed to have begun in the 1870's. As part of this celebration, it is now traditional to bake a cake in honor of the three kings - the King Cake. King Cakes are oval-shaped to symbolize the unity of faiths. Each cake is decorated in the traditional Mardi Gras colors - purple representing justice, green representing faith, and gold representing power. A small baby, symbolizing the baby Jesus, is traditionally hidden inside each King Cake.

In New Orleans, King Cake parties are held throughout the Mardi Gras season. In offices, classrooms, and homes throughout the city, King Cakes are sliced and enjoyed by all. Like the Biblical story, the "search for the baby" adds excitement, as each person waits to see in which slice of cake the baby will be discovered. While custom holds that the person who "finds" the baby will be rewarded with "good luck", that person is also traditionally responsible for bringing the King Cake to the next party or gathering.

 Recipe from :

1 cup flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp. salt
3 Tbsp. dry milk

1 package rapid rise yeast

I also add 2 TBS dry pudding mix (Optional)

Add: 1 cup hot water & stir

Add: 1 cup flour
1 egg
1/4 c. oil

Add: 1 to 1 1/4 cup flour. Knead until spongy. Let rise 25 minutes.

Separate the dough into two and roll them out until they're long and about 4 inches wide
Spread: ½ stick melted butter
1 cup brown sugar 
1 tsp cinnamon 
Roll up – pinch – seal well
Braid the two rolls together
Let rise for about 30 -45 mins

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Brush the cake generously with the egg wash and bake for about 30 minutes or until lightly browned; set aside to cool. Tuck the baby into a spot on the bottom of the cake once cooled.

To add the glaze and tinted sugars:

For the Tinted Sugars

  • 3 small lidded jars
  • 1-1/2 cups of granulated sugar
  • Green, yellow, red and blue food coloring
Sugar Glaze
  • 1/2 cup of confectioners sugar
  • 1 tablespoon of fresh lemon juice -OR-
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract (Almond extract is extra yummy on the cream cheese one)

Here are ideas for filled king cakes:

For the Praline Filling

  • 1/4 cup of unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 1 cup of chopped pecans
  • 1/2 cup of light brown sugar, 
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon
Cream Cheese filling
8 oz cream cheese
1/2 c powdered sugar
1 tsp lemon juice (optional)

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