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Sunday, February 22, 2009

A King Cake for Mardi Gras!


The parades have been rolling and everyone is gearing up for the big day – February 24, 2009 for Mardi Gras.
A Mardi Gras party would not be authentic without a King Cake at center stage! Gazillions of King Cakes are eaten during the period between the Twelfth Night and Ash Wednesday, and tradition says that the person who gets the “lucky” piece of cake with the baby doll inside, or a pecan (as Emeril sometimes recommends) gets to throw the next party.
The cake, which more closely resembles rich sweet bread than cake, is decorated in the traditional Mardi Gras colors: green, representing faith, gold symbolizing power, and purple denoting justice. I have draped over the cake some Mardi Gras beads to match! The cake is sometimes laced with cinnamon, just plain or with a variety of other fillings.
I have adapted my cake from the Fabulous Encyclopedia of Cajun & Creole Cuisine and Emeril Lagasse’s recipe.
10-12 servings
Ingredients
1/2 cup warm water (105 to 115 degrees)
2 packages dry yeast
2 teaspoons sugar
4 to 5 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
1/2 cup warm milk (105 to 115 degrees)
1/2 cup melted unsalted butter, cooled
5 egg yolks
1 pecan half, uncooked dried bean or King Cake Baby
Cinnamon Filling
· ¼ cup melted butter
· ½ cup sugar
· 1 tbsp cinnamon
Glaze:
2 cups sifted powdered sugar
2 tablespoons lemon juice or 1 tsp almond /vanilla extract
2 tablespoons water
Purple, green and gold sugar crystals
Directions
Preheat the oven 350 degrees.
Combine the warm water, yeast and 2 teaspoons sugar in a small bowl. Mix well and set aside to a warm place for about 10 minutes.
Combine the 4 cups of flour, 1/2 cup sugar, salt, nutmeg, lemon rind and add warm milk, melted butter, egg yolks and yeast mixture. Beat until smooth. Turn dough out on a lightly floured surface. Knead in enough remaining flour until the dough is no longer sticky. Continue kneading until the dough is smooth and elastic (about 10 minutes). Place the dough in a well-greased bowl. Turn once so greased surface is on top. Cover the dough and let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk (about 1 1/2 hours).

Punch the dough down and place on a lightly floured surface. Roll the dough out approx 6 inches X 30 inches. Brush the top of the dough with the melted butter, then sprinkle with the sugar cinnamon mixture. Roll up like a jellyroll and shape into a cylinder, about 30 inches long. Place the cylinder on a buttered baking sheet. Shape into a ring, pinching ends together to seal. Cover the ring with a towel or plastic, and let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 45 minutes.

Bake for 30 minutes, or until golden brown. Allow the cake to cool. Press the King Cake Baby or pecan half into the ring from the bottom so that it is completely hidden by the dough. For the glaze: Combine the ingredients and beat until smooth (add a little water as needed). To assemble, drizzle cake with the glaze. Sprinkle with sugar crystals, alternating colors.

Cut into the cake and hope you do not get the baby or the pecan!

Until we bake again...
Penny

1 comment:

lisamichele said...

That is one beautiful cake - in fact, I don't think I've ever seen a King cake that gorgeous! Nice job (placing a thousand bead necklaces around your neck) :D

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