King cake is a traditional dessert that is popular during the Mardi Gras season, particularly in the southern United States, especially in New Orleans, Louisiana. The cake is typically a ring-shaped pastry made from a sweet, yeast-based dough that is braided and decorated with purple, green, and gold icing, which are the colors of Mardi Gras.
King cake is often filled with a variety of sweet fillings, such as cream cheese, cinnamon, fruit jams, or praline. Some king cakes also contain a small plastic baby figurine hidden inside, which represents the baby Jesus, and the person who finds the baby in their slice is said to have good luck or is designated to buy the next king cake.
The tradition of king cake dates back to medieval Europe, and the pastry is closely associated with the Christian celebration of Epiphany, which marks the visit of the three wise men to the baby Jesus. In the southern United States, king cake is typically eaten during the weeks leading up to Mardi Gras, which is also known as Fat Tuesday, the day before the beginning of the Christian season of Lent.
King cake is a festive and delicious dessert that is enjoyed by many during the Mardi Gras season. It is often shared with friends and family, and is a symbol of the rich cultural traditions of the southern United States.
PREPARATION TIME: 2 hours and 30 minutes (includes rising time)
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 tbsp. sugar
- 1 tbsp. active dry yeast
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 1/2 cup warm milk
- 2 tbsps. unsalted butter, melted
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1 tsp. cinnamon
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 2 tbsps. heavy cream
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- Food coloring (optional)
- Beads or sprinkles for decoration (optional)
- In a large bowl, mix together flour, sugar, yeast, and salt.
- Add in warm milk, melted butter, beaten egg, and vanilla extract. Mix well until a dough forms.
- Knead the dough on a floured surface for about 8 minutes or until smooth and elastic.
- Place the dough in a greased bowl and cover it with plastic wrap. Let it rise in a warm place for 1 hour or until doubled in size.
- Preheat oven to 375°F (190°C).
- Roll out the dough into a large oval shape, about 1/4 inch thick.
- In a separate bowl, mix together cinnamon, brown sugar, and melted butter. Spread the mixture over the dough, leaving a 1 inch border around the edges.
- Roll up the dough starting from the long side.
- Place the roll in a greased 9-inch cake pan and shape it into a circular crown shape, joining the ends together.
- Bake the cake in the preheated oven for 25-30 minutes or until the top is golden brown.
- In a separate bowl, mix together powdered sugar, heavy cream, vanilla extract, and food coloring (if using).
- Once the cake has cooled, drizzle the icing over the top and decorate with beads or sprinkles (if using).
SERVING SUGGESTIONS OR ADDITIONAL TIPS:
- The King Cake is traditionally served during the Mardi Gras celebration.
- Serve with a hot cup of coffee or tea.
- The cake can be stored in an airtight container for up to 3 days.