Sadly folks I won’t be making Mardi Gras this year, so no fun pictures in the weeks to follow. I decided I don’t have to completely miss out on all the perks of going to New Orleans for this crazy event and made my own King Cake! It was a complete success, so I brought it to work to share with a handful of my favorite colleagues. After five hours, there is only 1/4 of the cake left! I may just have to make this again on Fat Tuesday. The only thing I will do differently next time is start it early in the evening. The dough takes a total of at least 1.5 hours for both rises of the dough and 20 minutes of cooling time after it is done baking. It was around 3 hours before it was all put together but so fun and definitely worth every bite.
King Cake (Traditional New Orleans Style)
For the Dough:
2 tablespoons organic unsalted butter
8 ounces organic sour cream
5 tablespoons granulated sugar, divided into 4 tablespoons & 1 tablespoon
Pinch of salt
1 package (2¼ teaspoons) active dry yeast
¼ cup warm water (between 100 and 110 degrees)
3 cups organic all-purpose flour
Oil for your hands and the bowl
For the Filling:
2 teaspoons organic cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon organic vanilla
1/4 teaspoon organic almond extract
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup light brown sugar
5 tablespoons melted butter
For the Icing:
2 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon organic vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon organic almond extract
1 tablespoon organic unsalted butter, melted
4-6 tablespoons organic whole milk
Pinch of salt
For the Colored Sugars:
Color your own sugars: green, yellow (or gold), and purple food coloring mixed in a plastic bag and rubbed around until food coloring is thoroughly incorporated. I decided to buy the purple dusting sugar and gold flakes but made the green shade with Sugar in the Raw and food coloring.
1. To Make the Dough: In a small or medium saucepan over medium heat, add the butter, 4 tablespoons of the sugar and the salt; stir. Once the butter has melted, add the sour cream and heat to smooth and luke warm. Meanwhile, in a large mixing bowl, add ¼ cup warm water and the other 1 tablespoon of the sugar to the package of yeast; stir. Allow the yeast to sit for about five minutes until it bubbles and becomes active.
2. Once the yeast is active, whisk in the warm butter and sour cream mixture, the egg, and 1 cup of the flour. Whisk until smooth. Then slowly mix in the remaining flour by hand until you form a soft dough. This will take about another 2 cups of flour. The dough should be slightly tacky, but not sticky.
3. Turn the dough out onto a clean surface dusted with flour. With oiled hands, knead the dough until and elastic, about 8-10 minutes, adding more flour by the teaspoon if needed.
4. Place the ball of dough into a large, well-oiled bowl, then flip the dough so all of the surface area of the dough is oiled. Cover the bowl with a hand towel, then set the bowl in a warm, draft-free area and allow the dough to rise until it has doubled in size, about 1 hour.
5. When the dough is almost finished rising, make the filling. Combine the melted butter, cinnamon, extracts, and sugars in a medium bowl and stir to fully combine.
6. Once the dough has doubled in size, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. Lightly flour the dough and a rolling pin. Roll the dough into a rectangle about 18 inches long by 14 inches wide or make it into two smaller ones. Spread the cinnamon sugar mixture evenly over the dough, leaving a 1-inch border around the outside of the dough.
7. Roll the cake up jellyroll-style and pinch the seams shut. Carefully move the roll to a Sil-pat or parchment lined baking sheet, seam-side down. Bring the ends together to form an oval and press the edges together to completely seal the cake into an oval.
8. Once again, cover the dough bowl with a hand towel and allow it to rise for another 30 minutes in warm area of the kitchen.
9. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. and cook for about 25 minutes until golden brown on upper third rack in the oven. Stick a pecan or a baby in the bottom of the cake for someone to find. Some people say finding the baby inside a King Cake signifies good luck. Others claim it means you’re going to become pregnant soon. Mardi Gras revelers say it simply means you have to provide the next King Cake!
Cool about 20 minutes before drizzling on the icing and sprinkling on the sugars. Slice with a serrated knife, and enjoy the Mardi Gras party in your mouth!