It’s Mardi Gras season down in New Orleans, and I’m sure the people there are celebrating even more with news that the Saints are going to the Super Bowl. I grew up near Baton Rouge when the Saints were first getting established, and I well remember all the losing seasons when they were known as the ‘Aints and fans wore paper bags over their heads. Now they are going to play for the NFL championship for the first time in the franchise’s 43 years. With Super Bowl Sunday on February 7 and Mardi Gras on February 16, I’m sure lots of people will be having parties. And every party during Mardi Gras has to feature a King Cake.
If you’re not familiar with King Cakes, they come in many different flavors, but they are similar to coffee cakes and perfect with a good cup of coffee with chicory. If you’d like to know more about the history of King Cakes, here’s a great write up at Mardi Gras Unmasked.com.
As you might guess, King Cakes are great to serve to a crowd. They’re good for breakfast or dessert, and they’re good to serve at your next mother-daughter book club meeting. Here’s my recipe:
(Recipe Makes Two Rings)
* 1 envelope dry yeast
* 1/4 cup warm water
* 1/2 cup milk
* 1 cup butter
* 2 egg yolks
* 2 whole eggs
* 4 cups (or more) unbleached flour
* 1/2 cup + 1 tsp. sugar
Mix yeast with warm water and 1 tsp. sugar and 1 tsp. flour. Bring milk to a boil then stir in butter and sugar. Pour into a large bowl and mix. Once mix is lukewarm beat in egg yolks, whole eggs, and yeast mixture. Beat in approximately 2 cups of flour until dough is fairly smooth, then add enough flour to make a soft dough you can form into a ball. Knead by hand until smooth and elastic. Lightly oil a bowl, turn dough once or twice to coat, cover with a cloth and leave in a warm spot until doubled in size, about 1-1/2 – 2 hours. Pat down cover with damp towel and refrigerate overnight. Remove dough from fridge. Divide in half. Shape each half into a long sausage shape. Roll dough into a 30″x9″ rectangle as thin as a pie crust. Let dough rest while you make the filling.
* 16 oz. cream cheese
* 1/2 cup confectioners sugar
* 4 Tblsp. flour
* 4 egg yolks
* 2 tsp. vanilla
Mix all ingredients together in a small bowl. Divide filling in half and place each half in a one inch strip down the length of each dough shape. Fold one end of the dough over the filling and onto the other side. Crimp at ends so filling won’t come out. Shape dough into rings, place each on a separate cookie sheet or jelly roll pan and let stand 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 350. Brush with egg wash and cut deep vents into cake. Bake for 20 – 35 minutes until risen and golden.
* 1-1/2 cups confectioners sugar
* 2-1/2 Tblsp. milk
* 1/4 tsp. vanilla
Mix all ingredients together in a small bowl. Once cake has cooled spread on icing. Sprinkle colored sugar crystals of purple, green and gold over the icing before it hardens. (You can buy colored sugar or make it yourself by placing ½ cup of regular sugar in a zip lock bag and adding one drop of food coloring at a time until you get the color you desire. For purple mix equal parts of red and blue.)