Mardi Gras is today, Fat Tuesday! There are parades and festivals and all kinds of revelry, although I have never been to these festivities in New Orleans….the Captain and I use this celebration as an excuse to eat cake, particularly King’s Cake!
As you know, I like to decorate, so I lay out masks and beads and make jambalaya and we have a couple friends over…Even though I collect dinnerware sets, most are service for four! So if we want matching dinnerware, etc….there can only be four of us at the table! 😉 See this tablescape described here.
Thanksgiving and Christmas dinnerware is the exception. I am fortunate to have service for 12…and though we would never turn any one away…I would have to combine extra dinnerware from other sets if more than 12 people attended….which I have done a time or two. 😉
The Mardi Gras King’s Cake is in my opinion, a coffee cake with yeast. More of a bread than a cake. However, the sweet filling and frosting make it sweet much like a cake. The colors of the frosting are not colors I would choose to put together, but they have a significance and are used in all types of celebrations and parades that occur in New Orleans this time of year. Very colorful and festive.
There is a powder sugar frosting which requires using 3 different food coloring bottles. Dark Purple, Dark Gold, and Kelly Green! I mix up one batch of frosting (which is white…divide the frosting into 3 bowls for the 3 colors, using food coloring drops to the mix to achieve the desired color.
The colored sugar can be made by stirring a few drops of food coloring into white sugar or you can buy the sugars already colored. I sometimes sprinkle with white sugar over the top of the 3 colored icings.
Below is the history of the King’s Cake, plus you will find a printable recipe below that.
The History of the King Cake for Mardi Gras:
Epiphany, celebrated in European countries, marks the coming of the wise men who brought gifts to the Christ Child. Epiphany is also called Little Christmas on the Twelfth Night, and is celebrated twelve nights after Christmas. People from all of the world celebrate Epiphany by exchanging gifts and feasting. A very popular custom that is still celebrated is the making of the “King’s Cake” which represents the three kings who brought gifts. A plastic baby is baked inside the King Cake, and the tradition is whoever receives the baby in their piece of cake must buy the next King Cake or throw the next party. King Cakes are made of a cinnamon filled dough in the shape of a hollow circle. The cake is topped with a delicious glazed topping and then sprinkled with colored sugar. The three colors of the sugar are Purple (representing Justice), Green (representing Faith) and Gold (representing Power). Today the King Cakes are baked with a wide assortment of fillings inside the cake. King Cake is the preferred dessert and snack in New Orleans during Mardi Gras. Hundreds of thousands of King Cakes are eaten in New Orleans during the Carnival season.
- 1 cup milk
- 1/4 cup butter
- 2 (.25 ounce) packages active dry yeast
- 2/3 cup warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
- 1/2 cup white sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 5 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 cup packed brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
- 2/3 cup chopped pecans
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup raisins
- 1/2 cup melted butter
- 1 cup confectioners' sugar
- 1 tablespoon water
- Scald milk, remove from heat and stir in 1/4 cup of butter.
- Allow mixture to cool to room temperature.
- In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in the warm water with 1 tablespoon of the white sugar.
- Let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes.
- When yeast mixture is bubbling, add the cooled milk mixture.
- Whisk in the eggs.
- Stir in the remaining white sugar, salt and nutmeg.
- Beat the flour into the milk/egg mixture 1 cup at a time.
- When the dough has pulled together, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 8 to 10 minutes.
- Lightly oil a large bowl, place the dough in the bowl and turn to coat with oil.
- Cover with a damp cloth or plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, about 2 hours.
- When risen, punch down and divide dough in half.
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees
- Grease 2 cookie sheets or line with parchment paper.
- Combine the brown sugar, ground cinnamon, chopped pecans, 1/2 cup flour and 1/2 cup raisins. Pour 1/2 cup melted butter over the cinnamon mixture and mix until crumbly.
- Roll dough halves out into large rectangles (approximately 10x16 inches or so).
- Sprinkle the filling evenly over the dough and roll up each half tightly like a jelly roll, beginning at the wide side.
- Bring the ends of each roll together to form 2 oval shaped rings.
- Place each ring on a prepared cookie sheet.
- With scissors make cuts 1/3 of the way through the rings at 1 inch intervals.
- Let rise in a warm spot until doubled in size, about 45 minutes.
- Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes.
- Push the doll or toy into the bottom of the cake.
- Frost while warm with the confectioners' sugar blended with 1 to 2 tablespoons of water.
- Some people bake the doll into the cake while others just push the doll into the bottom of the cake. By the way...I have never gotten the doll even though I bake the cake...By the time we are ready to eat the cake....the cake platter has been rotated so many times, I have no idea where the doll is.
- Always advise guests to be careful as they bite down...don't want any broken teeth or swallowed dolls.;)