King Cake

The classic King Cake is a traditional cake that is generally eaten in Louisiana during the season between 12 days after Christmas and Fat Tuesday.  A King Cake is oval-shaped, like the pattern of a racetrack.  Trademark decorations–sugars in the royal colors of purple (justice), green (faith), and gold (power)–honor the three kings who visited the Christ child on Epiphany, the 12th day after Christmas.

I thought it would be a fun thing to take to Sunday Night Dinner since last night was the last Sunday before Mardi Gras.  It was funny because I swear everyone was avoiding finding the baby like it had the plague or something.

The baby you ask??  Well, inside each King Cake there is a baby (or a pecan or a coffee bean) hidden.  I’ve found that it has 2 meanings.  1) The person who finds the baby will have good luck for the next year.  2) The person who finds the baby has to supply the next King Cake.  I read the latter of the two because they say that especially in the New Orleans area, there will be a King Cake pretty much every Friday of the season.  It also said you can tell the locals who were born with the tradition to the new comers.

So I’m just trying to educate you in case you ever find yourself in that situation :).

NOTE! You may NOT prepare and serve this before Twelfth Night (Jan. 6) or after Mardi Gras Day!
Mardi Gras King Cake adapted via here

Dough
1 cup milk
1/3 cup butter, melted
1 pkg. (envelope) active dry yeast (1 tbsp)
½ cup white sugar
4 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tbsp lemon juice
3 eggs
Filling
1/3 cup butter, softened
1 cup packed brown sugar
2 Tbsp. cinnamon
Icing
2 cups sifted sugar
2 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp water
Decorating sugars (purple, green and gold)

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. 
  • Heat the milk and butter in a saucepan until it reaches a temperature of about 110 degrees.
  • In a large mixing bowl, dissolve yeast in the milk and butter mixture. Add the sugar, 3 cups of the flour, salt, nutmeg, lemon juice and eggs; stir well to combine. Add the remaining flour, ½ cup at a time, stirring well after each addition. When the dough has pulled together, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and supple, about 8 minutes.
  • Lightly grease a large mixing bowl. Place the dough in the bowl and turn to coat with oil. Cover with a lightly damp cloth and let rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, about 1 hour.

  • Deflate the dough by punching it once and turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. Use a rolling pin and roll it into a rectangle that is about 10 x 14-inches. Spread the softened butter evenly over the surface. Combine the brown sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle it evenly over the butter.

  • Roll up the dough into a log and seal the seam by pinching it together.
  • Form the log into a ring, pinching the dough together at the two ends to form a seam.
  • Place in a greased 13 x 9-inch pan. Cover with a tea towel and allow to rise again for 30-45 minutes.
  • Remove towel and bake the ring for 25 to 30 minutes or until golden. While the ring is baking, combine the icing ingredients.
  • When the ring comes out of the oven, coat it generously with icing. Then decorate the top with colored sugars (green, gold, purple), in alternating sections, about 2 inches each.

Don’t forget to hide the plastic baby charm inside, but warn everyone to look for it!

King Cake

by Nicole
Prep Time: 3 hours 45 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Ingredients

    Dough

    • 1 cup milk
    • 1/3 cup butter, melted
    • 1 pkg. (envelope) active dry yeast (1 tbsp)
    • ½ cup white sugar
    • 4 ½ cups all-purpose flour
    • 1 tsp. salt
    • 1 tsp ground nutmeg
    • 1 tbsp lemon juice
    • 3 eggs

    Filling

    • 1/3 cup butter, softened
    • 1 cup packed brown sugar
    • 2 Tbsp. cinnamon

    Icing

    • 2 cups sifted sugar
    • 2 tbsp lemon juice
    • 2 tbsp water
    • Decorating sugars (purple, green and gold)
    Instructions
    Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
    Heat the milk and butter in a saucepan until it reaches a temperature of about 110 degrees.
    In a large mixing bowl, dissolve yeast in the milk and butter mixture. Add the sugar, 3 cups of the flour, salt, nutmeg, lemon juice and eggs; stir well to combine. Add the remaining flour, ½ cup at a time, stirring well after each addition. When the dough has pulled together, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and supple, about 8 minutes.
    Lightly grease a large mixing bowl. Place the dough in the bowl and turn to coat with oil. Cover with a lightly damp cloth and let rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, about 1 hour.
    Deflate the dough by punching it once and turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. Use a rolling pin and roll it into a rectangle that is about 10 x 14-inches. Spread the softened butter evenly over the surface. Combine the brown sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle it evenly over the butter.
    Roll up the dough into a log and seal the seam by pinching it together.
    Form the log into a ring, pinching the dough together at the two ends to form a seam.
    Place in a greased 13 x 9-inch pan. Cover with a tea towel and allow to rise again for 30-45 minutes.
    Remove towel and bake the ring for 25 to 30 minutes or until golden. While the ring is baking, combine the icing ingredients.
    When the ring comes out of the oven, coat it generously with icing. Then decorate the top with colored sugars (green, gold, purple), in alternating sections, about 2 inches each.

    Don’t forget to hide the plastic baby charm inside, but warn everyone to look for it!

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