You can’t have Mardi Gras without a King Cake – and you won’t believe how easy it is to make!
King Cake isn’t just a thing, it’s a tradition. Before you learn to make it, lets learn a little about it!
It’s Mardi Gras Day!
Mardi Gras, also known as carnival, is all about the party! It’s a day of excess and debauchery before the Lenten season of fasting and penance. Before you give up sweets for lent, let get in one last decadent dessert. THE KING CAKE!
What Is King Cake?
King cake is a cross between a coffee cake and a sweetened bread. It is made with yeast, which technically makes it a bread. It is often infused with cinnamon and you can make it with different fillings, like cream cheese, praline, etc. The are cooked in a ring shape.
Why Is There a Baby In It?
Every King Cake has a small plastic baby doll hidden inside. This crazy tradition is rooted in religious history. Mardi Gras, or Carnival season, begins on the 12th day of the Epiphany, the day that the three Kings saw the baby Jesus. The doll represents the baby Jesus. If you are mking it at home and don’t have 1 inch plastic baby, you can use a bean!
What’s The Tradition Surrounding the Baby?
Don’t eat your King Cake too fast – you may mistakenly eat a baby!
Eating King Cake is so fun because you are waiting to see who gets the slice with the baby hidden inside. It’s good luck to get the slice with the baby but whomever gets the baby has to bring the King Cake next year!
Want a cocktail to go with that King Cake? (Dumb question, I know!) Try my King Cake Martini!
Ok, let’s get on with it!
My favorite King Cake has cream cheese filling, so let’s make that one. (You can make it without the cream cheese filling, or substitute another one.)
KING CAKE WITH CREAM CHEESE FILLING
1⁄4 cup butter
1 (16 ounce) container sour cream
1⁄3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 (1/4 ounce) envelopes active dry yeast
1 tablespoon white sugar
1⁄2 cup warm water (100 to 110 degrees)
6 1⁄2 cups all-purpose flour, divided
I/2 teaspoon cinnamon
3 tablespoon sugar
16 oz. cream cheese, softened (2 packs)
3⁄4 cup sugar
1⁄8 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup confectioner’s sugar
1 – 2 tablespoons milk.
Drop or two of vanilla
1/2 cup sugar
I drop food coloring
1. In a saucepan over low heat, cook the butter, sour cream, sugar, and salt over low heat until the ingredients melt. Let cool.
2. Dissolve yeast and 1 tablespoon sugar in 1/2 cup of 100 degree water in a mixing bowl for 5 minutes. USE A THERMOMETER. DO NOT GUESS AT THE TEMP. After the 5 minutes, you will notice that it will bubble up and become foamy. This is what you want.
3. Add the sour cream mixture, eggs, and 2 cups flour; beat at medium speed with an electric mixer 2 minutes or until smooth; Gradually stir in the remaining flour to make a soft dough.
4. Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic. This will take about 10 minutes. Grease a large bowl with butter, place the dough in the bowl and cover. Let it rise in a warm place (85 degrees), free from drafts, 1 to 2 hours or until doubled in bulk.
While the dough is rising, let’s make the filling.
5. Using an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese until it is smooth. Add egg and blend well, then add sugar, salt and vanilla and mix until smooth and creamy.
Now let’s get back to the dough.
6. Your dough should have risen to twice its size. Punch it down and press it out into a long rectangle. Mix together the cinnamon sugar and sprinkle liberally onto dough. Place the cream cheese mixture on the dough and close the the edge. Roll the dough into a jellyroll, staring with the edge with the cream cheese, so that it ends up in the middle. Place dough roll, seam side down, on a lightly greased cookie sheet. Bring ends together to form an oval ring, moistening and punching edges together to seal.
Cover and let rise in a warm place, free from drafts, 20 minutes or until doubled in bulk. Bake at 375 degrees for 15 minutes or until golden.
Make it pretty!
7. For the glaze, mix the confectioners sugar, milk and vanilla. It should be pourable. You can divide it and add food coloring to create the traditional Mardi Gras colors of purple, green, and gold, or leave it white, then sprinkle with colored sugar while it’s still damp.
8. To make colored sugar, place a half cup of sugar and a drop of food coloring in a bag and shake.
Happy Mardi Gras! Enjoy your day!
Photo credit: KPFusion – Kim Thomas