Mardi Gras King Cake
LAISSEZ LES BON TEMPS ROULER!
It’s that time of year, Mardi Gras, Fat Tuesday or Carnival; it’s time to party!
Sarah: We are both from the south, but I can claim I was born in Louisiana. That’s why I know all about Natchitoches Meat Pies. I’ve eaten many a King Cake in my day & this year I’m making my own!
Jessica: I am not from Louisiana, so Sarah has me there, but my family is from Southeast Texas. My dad’s parents are from Galveston, which has it’s own Mardi Gras celebration. My Grandpa and Aunt ride the float every year with the Krewe of Aquarius!
Sarah: Now, I do not claim to be an expert on all things King Cake. I do know we eat dozens of them leading up to Lent/Ash Wednesday. There is a little plastic baby doll hidden somewhere in the cake. The baby represents Jesus & if you find the baby, you’ve got to buy the next King Cake. At least, that’s how we did it in my family.
Jessica: We usually only bought them on Fat Tuesday, and honestly there have only been a few good ones that I have eaten. If you got the baby it meant good luck for the year. And that you had to buy the next King Cake.
What is Your Favorite Flavor Mardi Gras King Cake?
Sarah: My favorite filling for King Cake is cream cheese or almond. This year my daughter opted for the cream cheese filling & we went all in. I love a bit of cinnamon too & Book Club Cookbook has a delicious cinnamon. While we were waiting for the dough to rise, we were listening to some Cajun Mardi Gras classics.
Jessica: I love the cream cheese and the almond Sarah! I already knew you had good taste. I would normally just buy one, but no one in California makes them! I think there are a few bakeries here and there, but not like Texas or Louisiana where you buy them at any grocery store. I went the easiest way possible – I made a King Cake from store-bought cinnamon rolls.
Sarah: This cake wasn’t hard to make at all; it just took time. I made the dough & let it rise for an hour. Formed it in a 6×24″ rectangle easily & whipped up the cream cheese filling.
When closing up the dough, I dampened it with water at the seam to smooth it out. I fashioned it in a good old ring & let it rise for another hour.
Then I went to town on the decorations & the sprinkles actually mean something. Green is for faith, gold is for power & the purple is for justice. The three colors are meant to honor the Three Kings who traveled to see the baby Jesus. Icing the cake always hides a multitude of sins. Some of my cream cheese leaked out (Dammit!) but you couldn’t even tell. So much for that tight seam.
This Mardi Gras King cake was a huge success. Baking this brought back so many memories of Louisiana & the South in general. I remember enjoying a piece of cream cheese King Cake with my Paw Paw on a warm February day & letting the good times roll. I’m Really Into This King Cake. Now, I need to try my hand at Jessica’s Hurricane Rum Cake.
Jessica: This cake was seriously easier than I imagined. It took more time to preheat the oven then it did to make the cake. First I cracked open my three tubes of cinnamon rolls. Now, if you want to have legit King Cake Cinnamon Rolls, Sarah has a recipe right here. But, I’m going for ease, tonight!
Then I unrolled them and twisted them into a circle. King cakes often have layers inside, so braiding them and folding them gives it that effect.
In the oven for thirty minutes. While the King Cake was cooking, I put all of the icing in a bowl and added a little milk to thin it out. When the cake was finished, I found a place to stick the baby in.
After that went the icing (you have to hide the opening for the baby!), followed by the sugar sprinkles in green, purple and gold. I bought some beads to put in the middle to jazz it up!
When you live far from home it is nice to be able to be able to make something that reminds you of it. Whether you go my easy route or make something homemade with your family, you can’t lose – though I wish I could try Sarah’s cake! I can’t wait to share this tradition with my office – and see who will be buying the next King Cake!
Mardi Gras King Cake
- 1/2 cup 113g butter, melted
- 3/4 cup 170g lukewarm milk
- 2 large eggs + 1 large egg yolk
- 3 1/2 cups 418g All-Purpose Flour
- 1/4 cup 50g granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup nonfat dry milk
- 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
- 2 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast
- 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon grated lemon rind
- 8 ounces softened cream cheese
- 1/2 cup 99g granulated sugar
- 3 tablespoons 25g All-Purpose Flour
- 1 large egg
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2 cups 227g confectioners' sugar
- 1 pinch of salt
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2 to 3 tablespoons milk
- yellow, purple, and green sparkling sugars
- Lightly grease a baking sheet, or line it with parchment.
Prepare the dough with an electric mixer. This dough is very sticky.
Allow the dough to rise, covered, for 1 hour. It'll become puffy, though it probably won't double in size.
Transfer the soft dough to a lightly greased work surface. Pat and stretch it into a 24" x 6" rectangle. Let the dough rest while you prepare the filling.
To prepare the filling: Beat together the cream cheese, sugar, and flour until smooth, scraping the bowl once. Add the egg and flavor, again beating until smooth.
Dollop the filling down the center of the long strip of dough. Then fold each edge up and over the filling until they meet at the top; roll and pinch the edges together, to seal the filling inside as much as possible. Don't worry about making the seal look perfect; it'll eventually be hidden by the icing and sugar.
Place the log of dough onto the baking sheet. The dough will be very extensible, i.e., it'll stretch as you handle it. So pick it up and position it on the pan quickly and gently. Pinch the ends together.
Cover and let rise for about an hour, until it's puffy. Preheat the oven to 350°F while the dough rises.
Whisk the reserved egg white with 1 tablespoon water, and brush it over the risen cake.
Bake the cake for 20 minutes, then tent it lightly with aluminum foil. Bake it for an additional 30 minutes, until it's a rich golden brown.
Remove the cake from the oven. After about 15 minutes, transfer it from the baking sheet to a rack to cool.
To make the icing: Beat together all of the icing ingredients, dribbling in the final 2 teaspoons milk until the icing is thick yet pourable. Pour the icing over the completely cooled cake. While it's still sticky, sprinkle with alternating bands of yellow, purple, and green sugars. Space candied cherries in a ring around the top.
Slighly adapted from King Arthur Flour