We have roughly nine hours until Fat Tuesday (English translation for Mardi Gras), referring to the practice of indulging in rich, fatty, delicious foods before the Lenten season begins. I have friends talking of gumbo, andouille sausage, boudin and King Cake. Many of my friends order their King Cake-but I make my own. After years of making cinnamon rolls at bakeries & restaurants-its something I think I can handle, because a King Cake is essentially a ginormous cinnamon bun!
The King Cake, traditionally served on Kings Day (January 6), though most popular during Mardi Gras, is a brioche type bread swirled with cinnamon, braided and formed into a ring. It is topped with icing and colored sprinkles, gold (for power), green (for faith) and purple (for justice).
A small trinket is usually hidden inside the cake, usually a plastic baby representing baby Jesus or a golden coin. Traditionally, the person that finds the trinket either throws next year's Mardi Gras party or buys the next King Cake. At some parties, the person with the trinket in their slice of cake is crowned king or queen of the party. Maybe I'll find that trinket...it wouldn't hurt being Queen for the day, right?
yield: 1 cake
4 3/4 all purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 packages Active Dry Yeast
3/4 cup milk
1/2 cup water
1 stick butter
- In a large bowl, combine 1 1/2 cups flour, sugar, and packaged yeast. Heat milk, water, and butter until very warm, about 120-130 degrees F. Add to dry ingredients and beat for 2 minutes and medium speed with an electric mixer. Add eggs and 1/2 cup flour.
- Beat on high speed for 2 minutes. Stir in remaining flour (2 3/4 cups) to make a stiff batter. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 to 3 hours.
- Punch dough down. Move dough to a lightly floured surface and divide into equal portions. Roll each to 28x4 inches.
- Prepare filling (below). Brush each piece of dough with melted butter and sprinkle evenly with the cinnamon & sugar mixture.
- Beginning and the long end, roll each piece up tightly as you would for a cinnamon roll or jelly roll.
- Pinch seams to form long ropes. Braid, then form into an oval. Pinch ends to seal. Place on a parchment lined baking sheet. Cover and let rise in a warm, draft free place until doubled in size, about an hour.
- Bake at 375 degrees F, 25-30 minutes or until lightly golden. Remove from baking sheet and cool on a wire rack. Drizzle glaze over the cooled cake and sprinkle with colored sugars.
1/2 stick butter, melted (for brushing)
3/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon
- Combine sugar and cinnamon, set melted butter aside.
2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
2-3 tablespoon milk
- Whisk until smooth