[Updated 2/5/16 - I remade this (photo above) and the second one came out much better!]
I just don’t feel right if Mardi Gras comes and goes and I haven’t had any king cake! Missing Mardi Gras year after year is one of the most annoying parts of not living in South Louisiana. Fortunately, I spent so much time over winter break in Louisiana this year, I was there for the start of King Cake season. On a whim, I picked up a king cake simply because I saw one for sale!
That was the only king cake I had all year, until last night. To celebrate a friend’s birthday, I made a king cake, which is really more of a bread than a cake. Like bread, it uses yeast as a leavening agent and must be proofed twice. After the dough’s first rise, it’s rolled out into a long rectangle, and then the filling is added. The traditional filling is cinnamon—a combination of cinnamon, brown sugar, and butter. Although, other popular fillings are apple, cream cheese, and strawberry cream cheese.
Once the filling is added, it’s rolled up like a cinnamon roll, and formed into a ring. The dough then rises a second time before being baked, glazed, and sprinkled with sugar in the traditional Mardi Gras colors: purple, gold, and green.
The last, and most important part, is to hide the plastic baby inside. Unlike most other cake-eating scenarios, there should be no leftovers! It’s important to get the right size king cake. Making sure that each piece gets consumed on the spot ensure that someone will find the plastic baby—the most important part!
Happy Mardi Gras everyone!
- FOR THE DOUGH
- 1/2 cup whole cup milk
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 (.25 ounce) packages active dry yeast
- 1/3 cup warm water (110 degrees F)
- 1/4 cup white sugar
- 1 egg
- 3/4 teaspoons salt
- 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour (344 grams)
- FOR THE FILLING & GLAZE
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1/4 cup all purpose flour
- 1/4 cup melted butter (1/2 stick)
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 2 tablespoons milk
- green, yellow, and purple sugar
- In a small saucepan, heat the milk until it just stats to boil. Remove from heat and stir in 2 tablespoons of butter. Allow mixture to cool to room temperature.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, dissolve yeast in the warm water with 1 1/2 teaspoons of the white sugar. Let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes.
- When yeast mixture is bubbling, add the cooled milk mixture. Whisk in the egg. Stir in the remaining white sugar and salt. Stir the flour into the milk/egg mixture. Attach the dough hook and mix for 1-2 minutes. When the dough has pulled together, continue to knead with the dough hook for 8-10 minutes, until the dough is elastic.
- Lightly oil a large bowl, place the dough in the bowl and turn to coat with oil. Cover with a damp cloth or plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, about 2 hours. When risen, punch down.
- Preheat oven to 340 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Make the filling by combining the brown sugar, ground cinnamon, and 1/4 cup flour.
- Roll dough out into a large rectangle (approximately 10x16 inches or so). Sprinkle the filling and melted butter evenly over the dough and roll up each half tightly like a jelly roll, beginning at the wide side. Bring the ends of each roll together to form an oval shaped ring. Place the ring on the prepared cookie sheet. Let rise in a warm spot until doubled in size, about 45 minutes.
- Bake in preheated oven for 27-30 minutes. Frost while warm with the powdered sugar blended with 2 tablespoons milk (add more milk if the glaze is too thick). Sprinkle with the colored sugar.
This recipe was adapted from AllRecipes.