Today is Mardi Gras. A splurge day before you must behave until Easter. Or something like that.
Mardi Gras has a rich history, particularly in New Orleans. I have been to New Orleans, pre-Katrina, but I was there during the off season and it was still crazy. Did you know that Mardi Gras originated in Mobile, AL? I’d always assumed New Orleans!
I’d never had a King Cake before, but essentially it is brioche (the “cake”) and gold, green, and purple sprinkles. Williams-Sonoma did a fun blog post on King Cakes describing the sugars as “…purple for justice, green for faith, and gold for power.” Those are some seriously loaded sugars. Newer versions of King Cake include various fillings, such as cream cheese and praline. And in true Alabama fashion, their version of the King Cake is deep fried. I would expect nothing less.
I’m sure you’ve heard of hiding a prize inside the King Cake. In past years it would be jewels (the wealthy), beans (the poor), almonds, and in most recent years…a plastic baby. The plastic baby really creeps me out for some reason. I mean, it’s a piece of plastic in your cake! I just find that odd, so I omitted that part. Forgive me. But the main point of the prize is that whoever gets the prize is in charge of bringing the King Cake next year. I don’t mind making them again. They were easy and very tasty.
I found my recipe from King Arthur Flour but you could really use any brioche recipe, add some lemon and nutmeg, glaze it, sprinkle some sugars and voila! King Cakes! This brioche recipe is a little bit “cak-i-er” and less “bread-i-er” than other brioche and it was fast and easy to make. Less than four hours including bake and rising time! Can’t beat that.
If you don’t have gold, green, and purple sugars, make your own. Just add a little food coloring to your sugar. Easy. I had gel food colors so I put a dab on a toothpick, spritzed with water, and added to the sugar. It doesn’t take much at all.
Yield: 10 to 12 mini King Cakes
Time: about 4 hours, including baking and rising
One Year Ago: Chocolate Souffle
Recipe from King Arthur Flour
- 1/2 cup (8 TB) butter, melted
- 3/4 cup lukewarm milk
- 2 large eggs + 1 large egg yolk, white reserved
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup dry milk
- 1 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
- 1 tsp grated lemon rind
- 3 1/2 cups AP Flour
- 2 1/2 tsp instant yeast
- 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
- ½ tsp vanilla or lemon extract (I used Fiori di Sicilia, but careful – a little goes a long way)
- 1 TB + ½ to 1 tsp milk, enough to make a thick but pourable glaze
- yellow, purple, and green sparkling sugars
1. Combine all ingredients for dough into mixer. Mix with dough hook for 5 minutes on speed 1 until dough comes together. Increase to speed 3 until dough forms a smooth ball. You may need to sprinkle more flour into the dough. I had to add about an extra 1/2 cup because the dough was just too soft. It should be soft and slightly sticky, but still have some shape. If it is just a sloppy mess, you will have a hard time with it. Sprinkle one teaspoon at a time and let mix completely before adding more. This step may take 15 minutes total.
2. Let dough rise, covered, for about one hour in a warm place, like your oven with the light on (but oven turned off!). See before and after rising:
3. Scale into 12 equal pieces (I did 10 since I only have 10 brioche pans). Shape into rolls. This will be very easy to do since the dough is easy to work with. Place into greased muffin tins or brioche pans.
5. After rising, combine the reserved egg with about a tablespoon of water, mix thoroughly, and brush on the cakes. Bake the cakes for 35 to 45 minutes, tenting if they brown too fast. Check the temperature about the 30 minute mark. It should read at least 180F when they are ready.
6. To make the glaze, just combine all the glaze ingredients together, adding more milk if needed. After the cakes have cooled, dip in the glaze and sprinkle with sugars. Eat!
Check out more bread recipes at Wild Yeast.