Last week, N decided to surprise me and make a King Cake, the traditional Mardi Gras cake. I had mentioned that I wanted to make it, but when I realized that I'd have to set aside a few hours to let the dough rise, I decided not to make it myself. But then N secretly got everything ready to make the cake, and we were able to enjoy it in time for Mardi Gras. The King Cake tradition came the Southern United States from the first French settlers, and has been a part of the Mardi Gras ever since. The cake often has a small trinket or bean inside the cake, and the person who gets the piece with the trinket gets to host the next party.
This post may be a bit late, and even though tradition says that you aren't supposed to eat King Cake after Mardi Gras, you will want to eat this cake every day of the week. I took one of the cakes into work (the recipe makes 2 large cakes), and one of my colleagues sent me an email after eating the cake that said "AMAZING!" That is just one sign of how delicious this cake is.
From Jo at AllRecipes.com
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
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
5 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
FILLING (We recommend doubling the filling!)
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
2/3 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup raisins (optional)
1/2 cup melted butter
ICING (from Nola.com)
2 cup plus 4 tablespoons powdered sugar
4 tablespoons milk
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
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 F (190 degrees C). Grease 2 cookie sheets or line with parchment paper.
To Make Filling: 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.
For the icing, mix all ingredients in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix until smooth. Mix in food dye to make purple, yellow, and green frosting or sprinkle with coloured sugars.