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Mardi Gras King Cake

Mardi Gras King Cake

If you’ve never had or heard of the king cake, let us enlighten you so you can laissez les bon temps rouler! These tasty, icing-laden treats were originally created in the Middle Ages to celebrate the Catholic “Epiphany” (AKA the visit of the 3 kings). The French brought this recipe with them to Louisiana in the early 1870’s, and the rest is literally history. Nowadays, this baked beauty is as synonymous with Mardi Gras as beads and beignets. 

The vibrant green, purple, and yellow sprinkles and icing that you’ll usually find them decorated with are historically said to represent faith, power, and justice, respectively. For some, the small plastic baby baked inside this sorta bready, very cakey, cinnamon-spiked ring represents a miniature baby Jesus, and others just view the little fella as a symbol of luck or prosperity. (Excuse me, waiter? There’s a baby in my cake!) Bonus: In some circles, if you find it in your slice, you’re king for the day AND you’ll enjoy good luck for the rest of the year! So, dust off that crown, baby. It’s good to be king.

Yield: 10-12 servings
Time: 5 hours

Ingredients

For the dough:
4 ½ cups all purpose flour
2 tsp kosher salt
¾ cup whole milk
¼ cup honey
1 packet (7g) active dry yeast
4 eggs, room temperature
1 stick + 2 Tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature

For the filling:
1 cup brown sugar
1 Tbsp Spicewalla Cinnamon
1/2 tsp Spicewalla Nutmeg
¼ tsp Spicewalla Ground Ginger
½ tsp kosher salt
3 Tbsp melted butter

For the frosting:
3-4 cups powdered sugar
Whole milk
Vanilla extract
Green, yellow, and purple food coloring
Spicewalla Cardamom Sugar, for finishing

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Preparation

Make the dough:

  1. Warm the milk in the microwave for about 30 seconds.
  2. Pour milk and honey into the bowl of a stand mixer, stir together well, add the yeast and let sit for 10 minutes.
  3. Add the flour and salt, mix on low speed until combined
  4. Add the eggs and continue to mix on low speed until fully incorporated.
  5. Add the butter in small chunks at a time until all of it is fully mixed into the dough.
  6. Turn up the mixer to medium speed and continue to mix for about 10 minutes.
  7. Remove the bowl from the mixer, form the dough into a ball, place back in the bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Proof the dough for 1 hour or until doubled in size. 

Make the filling: 

  1. Combine the brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and salt in a small bowl and stir to combine. Melt the butter in a separate bowl and set aside.
  2. Remove the dough from the bowl and place on a floured surface. Gently push down on the dough to release any air bubbles. Roll the dough out into a large rectangle about ¼ inch thick. Brush the melted butter over the dough and sprinkle the brown sugar mixture evenly over the dough, all the way to the edges. Use a spatula to gently spread the filling evenly. 
  3. Roll the dough from the long side up into the log, making sure the seam is on the bottom. Gently press down to close the seam. Form the log into a circle and pinch the edges together. 
  4. Place the dough circle on a sheet tray lined with parchment, gently cover with plastic wrap and proof for another hour. 
  5. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  6. Bake for 30-40 minutes until golden brown

Make the frosting: 

  1. In 3 separate bowls add about 1 cup of powdered sugar. Add about 1 tsp of milk and about 1/4 tsp of vanilla to each bowl, stir together. The frosting should the consistency of thick glue, add more milk or powdered sugar if needed to achieve this. Add the food coloring to each bowl so you have green, yellow and purple frosting.
  2. Remove the king cake from the oven and cool completely. 
  3. Frost the cake by alternating between colors around the entire circumference of the circle. Sprinkle with Cardamom Sugar.
  4. Enjoy!
     

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