One of the best things about January (besides a certain blogger’s birthday) is that it is King Cake Season in New Orleans – the kickoff to Mardi Gras.
For those that aren’t from New Orleans, here is a bit of info about King Cakes :
The King Cake is a New Orleans tradition that involves a pastry, a small plastic baby, and a party. The King Cake is baked with a small plastic baby hidden inside, the person who gets the slice with baby in it has to host the next party.
Now of course you can always order a King Cake off the web. As a native of New Orleans, I
HIGHLY STRONGLY recommend Haydel’s Bakery (they have traditional as well as new flavors)
Remember – No King Cake after Mardi Gras Day ! That would be sacrilege!
If you’re not in New Orleans and you don’t feel like mail-ordering, you can always make your own. Here’s an excellent traditional King Cake recipe …
(this recipe will make 2 cakes , cut in half if you just want to make 1)
- 1 (16-ounce) container sour cream
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup butter
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 (1/4-ounce) envelopes active dry yeast
- 1/2 cup warm water
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 6 to 6 1/2 cups bread flour* (can use all-purpose flour)
- 1/3 cup butter, softened
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- Purple-, green-, and gold-tinted sparkling sugar sprinklesIngredients for Glaze
- 3 cups powdered sugar
- 3 tablespoons butter, melted
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 to 4 tablespoons milk
- Cook first 4 ingredients in a medium saucepan over low heat, stirring often, until butter melts. Set aside, and cool mixture to 100° to 110°.
- Stir together yeast, 1/2 cup warm water, and 1 tablespoon sugar in a 1-cup glass measuring cup; let stand 5 minutes.
- Beat sour cream mixture, yeast mixture, eggs, and 2 cups flour at medium speed with a electric stand mixer until smooth. Reduce speed to low, and gradually add enough remaining flour (4 to 4 1/2 cups) until a soft dough forms.
- Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic (about 10 minutes). Place in a well-greased bowl, turning to grease top.
- Cover and let rise in a warm place (85°), free from drafts, 1 hour or until dough is doubled in bulk.
- Punch down dough, and divide in half. Roll each portion into a 22- x 12-inch rectangle. Spread 1/3 cup softened butter evenly on each rectangle, leaving a 1-inch border. Stir together 1/2 cup sugar and cinnamon, and sprinkle evenly over butter on each rectangle.
- Roll up each dough rectangle, jelly-roll fashion, starting at 1 long side. Place one dough roll, seam side down, on a lightly greased baking sheet. Bring ends of roll together to form an oval ring, moistening and pinching edges together to seal. Repeat with second dough roll.
- Cover and let rise in a warm place (85°), free from drafts, 20 to 30 minutes or until doubled in bulk. Don’t forget to place the plastic baby or pecan half in the dough (bottom side) prior to baking.
- Bake at 375° for 14 to 16 minutes or until golden.To make the Glaze – Stir together first 4 ingredients. Stir in 2 tablespoons milk, adding additional milk, 1 teaspoon at a time, until spreading consistency.
- Slightly cool cakes on pans on wire racks (about 10 minutes). Drizzle Glaze evenly over warm cakes; sprinkle with colored sugars, alternating colors and forming bands. Let cool completely.
Remember – whoever gets the “Baby” has to host the next party!!!