Tuesday, February 2, 2016

King Cake Recipes

Written By Tori Ward, Marketing/PR Assistant 

Mardi Gras season is a time like none other in Louisiana. During these few weeks, Louisianians and visitors are allowed, if not expected, to attend festive parades, dress up for lavish balls, and eat ourselves sick on the signature dessert of Mardi Gras: king cake

As most people who've ever visited Louisiana during Mardi Gras season know, king cakes are one of life's tasty treats. You just can't beat a light and delicious cinnamon cake drizzled with sweet icing and topped with festive sugar. 

After hearing several people express interest in making a king cake from scratch, we decided to bring you a traditional king cake recipe, as well as an easier spin on this Mardi Gras favorite. Enjoy! 

Traditional King Cake

Ingredients for cake:
1 cup lukewarm milk, about 110°F 
1/2 cup granulated sugar 
2 Tbsp dry yeast 
3 3/4 cups all-purpose flour 
1 cup melted butter 
5 egg yolks, beaten 
1 tsp vanilla extract 
1 tsp grated fresh lemon zest 
3 tsp cinnamon 
Several gratings of fresh nutmeg 

Ingredients for icing:

2 cups powdered sugar 
1/4 cup condensed milk 
1 tsp fresh lemon juice 
Purple, green, and gold decorative sugars 
1 plastic baby to hide in the cake after baking 

1. For the cake, pour the warm milk into a large bowl. Whisk in the granulated sugar, yeast, and a heaping tablespoon of the flour, mixing until both the sugar and the yeast have dissolved.

2. Once bubbles have developed on the surface of the milk and it begins to foam, whisk in the butter, eggs, vanilla, and lemon zest. Add the remaining flour, cinnamon, and nutmeg and fold the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients with a large rubber spatula.

3. After the dough comes together, pulling away from the sides of the bowl, shape it into a large ball. Knead the dough on a floured surface until it is smooth and elastic, about 15 minutes.

4. Put the dough back into the bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and set aside in a draft-free place to let it proof, or rise, for 1 1/2 hours or until the dough has doubled in volume.

5. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Once the dough has risen, punch it down and divide the dough into 3 equal pieces. Roll each piece of dough between your palms into a long strip, making 3 ropes of equal length. Braid the 3 ropes around one another and then form the braided loaf into a circle, pinching ends together to seal. Gently lay the braided dough on a nonstick cookie sheet and let it rise until it doubles in size, about 30 minutes.

6. Once it's doubled in size, place the cookie sheet in the oven and bake until the braid is golden brown, about 30 minutes. Remove the cake from the oven, place on a wire rack, and allow to cool for 30 minutes.

7. For the icing, while the cake is cooling, whisk together the powdered sugar, condensed milk, and lemon juice in a bowl until the icing is smooth and very spreadable. If the icing is too thick, add a bit more condensed milk; if it's a touch too loose, add a little more powdered sugar.

8. Once the cake has cooled, spread the icing over the top of the cake and sprinkle with purple, green, and gold decorative sugars while the icing is still wet. Tuck the plastic baby into the underside of the cake and, using a spatula, slide the cake onto a platter.

(Recipe and photo from louisianatravel.com)

*note: image pictured is not exact to this recipe

As you might have noticed, making a king cake from scratch is a fairly long process. If you're looking to make a Mardi Gras dessert that involves less effort and time, but still has all those great king cake flavors, then try these easy and tasty king cake bites!

King Cake Bites
Ingredients for bites:
1 (8oz) package cream cheese, softened
1 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp lemon juice
2 tsp cinnamon
2 cans (8 oz each) refrigerated crescent dinner rolls

Ingredients for glaze:
1 cup powdered sugar
2 Tbsp milk
yellow, green, purple sugar

1. Preheat oven to 350°F.

2. Beat cream cheese, 1 cup powdered sugar and lemon juice with mixer until well blended.

3. Separate dough into 8 rectangles; seal seams. Sprinkle each rectangle with approximately 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon.

4. Spread cream cheese mixture down middle of each rectangle. Fold each rectangle lengthwise into thirds to enclose filling (bring long edges up to cover cream cheese); cut each into 4 squares. Place, seam-sides down, on baking sheet.

5. Bake 13 to 15 min. or until golden brown. Cool slightly.

6. Mix together remaining 1 cup powdered sugar and milk. Spread on top of King Cake Bites and sprinkle with colored sugars.

Recipe pinned on pinterest.com/rustoncvb/louisiana-cooking/
(Recipe and photo via plainchicken.com/2015/02/king-cake-bites.html)

We hope you give these delicious king cake recipes a try this Mardi Gras season. Happy Mardi Gras and laissez les bons temps rouler!

Tori Ward is a proud Louisiana native, born and raised in Shreveport, La. She is a Louisiana State University alumna and has a passion for all things PR. Tori is an avid movie watcher, coffee fanatic and lover of the outdoors. She is currently attending Louisiana Tech to pursue a master’s degree in business administration.

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