In New Orleans, a lot of our time is measured in seasons….Football season, Advent Season, Crawfish season, and King Cake Season. Starting January 6th (Twelfth Night) until the day of Mardi Gras, you can typically buy a King Cake anywhere, from the fanciest of bakeries to the regular grocery store. A few years ago, I decided to get adventurous and make one with the kids. It was something they enjoyed so much we do it every year. It’s time consuming but not difficult, and definitely worth the effort. Now you can get a little NOLA in your kitchen, too!
What you Need:
- 1/4 cup butter or margarine
- 1 (16 ounce) container sour cream
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 (.25 ounce) envelopes active dry yeast
- 1 tablespoon white sugar
- 1/2 cup warm water (100 to 110 degrees F.)
- 2 eggs
- 6-1/2 cups all-purpose flour, divided
- 1/2 cup white sugar
- 1-1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1/3 cup butter or margarine, softened
To Decorate the king cake you will also need:
- Powdered sugar, about 2 cups or so, mixed with a few Tablespoons of milk and stirred until smooth and spreadable (I like mine just thin enough to pour on)
- Colored sugar (Mardi Gras colors are purple, green, and gold)
- Small plastic baby (this represents Baby Jesus) or dry bean if you can’t find a baby.
How to Make it:
Dissolve yeast and 1 tablespoon sugar in 1/2 cup warm water in a large bowl; let stand 5 minutes. Add butter mixture, eggs, and 2 cups flour; beat at medium speed with an electric mixer 2 minutes or until smooth. Gradually stir in enough remaining flour to make a soft dough.
Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. Place in a well-greased bowl, turning to grease top. Cover and let rise in a warm place (85 degrees), free from drafts, 1 hour or until doubled in bulk.
Stir together 1/2 cup sugar and cinnamon; set aside.
Punch dough down; divide in half. Turn 1 portion out onto a lightly floured surface; roll to a 28- x 10-inch rectangle. Spread half each of cinnamon mixture and softened butter on dough. Roll dough, jellyroll fashion, starting at long side. Place dough roll, seam side down, on a lightly greased baking sheet. Bring ends together to form an oval ring, moistening and pinching edges together to seal. Repeat with remaining dough, cinnamon mixture, and butter.
Cover and let rise in a warm place, free from drafts, 20 minutes or until doubled in bulk.
Bake at 375 degrees F. for 15 to 20 minutes or until golden. Decorate with Frosting and Colored Sugars. Hide the baby under (or in) one of the slices. Serve!
Whoever gets the baby has to buy (or make) the next King Cake!
Happy Mardi Gras!