it's shrove (or fat tuesday) so i thought today it would be fun to share my fav mardi gras tradition... the king cake! the bad news is that making one is an arduous process and Fat Tuesday is the last day they're traditionally eaten... so hop to it!
my friend's mom (who's a fab lady from new orleans) sent me this king cake recipe after i fawned all over her to do it... mostly because i love them, but also because i have tons of friends who've never tasted this delishy mardi gras delicacy.
they don't get that the baby inside is the "king" jesus (but also has something to do with the three magi) and that finding it is good luck. and they don't know why it's a ring, or what the colors mean. can you imagine?
i haven't used her recipe yet, but i thought i'd whet your appetites with some photos from hankins flickr photostream (he takes BEAUTIFUL food and other kinds of pictures) and then give you the recipe too, so you can make your own.
King Cake from Jambalaya p 206
Makes 2 9x12” cakes. Freezes well.
1 stick plus 1 tbsp butter.
2/3 cup 99% fat free skim evaporated milk
½ cup sugar
2 tsp salt
2 packages dry yeast
1/3 cup warm water
6 c flour
For the cake, in a saucepan, melt 1 stick of butter, add milk and 1/3 cup of sugar and salt. Cool to lukewarm. In a large mixing bowl, combine yeast, 2 tbsp sugar, and water. Let stand until foaming.
About 5 to 10 minutes. Beat eggs into yeast; then milk mixture and zest. Stir in flour, ½ c at a time. Reserving 1 c to flour kneading surface.
Knead dough until smooth, about 5 to 10 min. Place in large mixing bowl greased with 1 Tbsp of butter; turning dough once to grease top. Gover and let rise in a warm place until doubled about 1 ½ to 2 hours.
½ c dark brown sugar. Packaged
¾ c granulated sugar
1 Tbsp cinnamon
1 stick butter, melted
For filling, mix sugars and cinnamon. Set aside.
1 egg, beaten
1 c sugar, colored (1/3 c each purple, yellow, green)
2 plastic babies or 2 beans
For topping, tint sugar by mixing food coloring until desired color is reached. A food processor aids in mixing and keeps the sugar from being too moist. When dough has doubled, punch down and divide in half. On a floured surface, roll half into a rectangle 30 x 15. Brush with half of melted butter and cut into 3 lengthwise strips. Sprinkle half of sugar mixture on strips, leaning a 1-in lengthwise strip free for sealing. Fold each strip toward the center, sealing the seam. You will now have 3 30-in stips with sugar mixture enclosed in each. Braid the three strips and make a circle by joining ends. Repeat with the other half of the fough. Place each cake on a on a 10 x15 baking sheet. Cover with damp cloth and let rise until doubled, about 1 hour.
Brush each with egg and sprinkle top with colored sugars, alternating colors. Preheat oven to 350. Bake 20 minutes. Remove from pan immediately so sugar will not harden; while still warm, place one plastic baby (or a bean) in each from underneath.