|O.k., so my first attempt was not the prettiest, but|
it sure tasted good.
Happy Mardi Gras!Mardi Gras season (or Carnival) lasts for weeks in New Orleans during which you are inundated with parades, costumes, beads, and KING CAKE. The arrival of king cakes in local bakeries lets you know Mardi Gras is coming. King Cakes are shared in offices, classrooms, and homes throughout the city so you might as well give in and indulge in this sweet delight and let your waist line expand and hips widen. Forget about the caloric overload and enjoy this delicacy that involves crazy yumminess and will keep you coming back for more.
Traditional King Cake is a sweet bread, with cinnamon filling and beautified with festive sugary icing decorated in Mardi Gras colors. The Mardi Gras colors of purple, green, and gold represent justice, faith, and power respectively and the city is draped in these colors. But if you want a flavor explosion in your mouth, you might opt for a cream cheese and fruit filled delight. Or for you choco-holics, you can have it filled with your guilty pleasure. Whatever your palate cries for, you can be sure you will find it in New Orleans. And if you get a King Cake there, don't be surprised if you find a plastic baby buried inside. Custom has it that the person who finds the baby will be rewarded with good luck. BUT, that person is also responsible for bringing the next king cake to the next gathering...so you better hope your luck involves money.
There are many King Cake recipes out there but I found this one to be relatively easy and super delicious. For you non-bakers, you can call one of the many bakeries in New Orleans that make King Cakes and have it shipped overnight. No pans required.
4¾ cups all-purpose flour
1¼ cup sugar
1½ teaspoon salt
2 packages Fleischmann’s Rapid Rise yeast
¾ cup milk
½ cup water
½ cup (1 stick) butter
¼ cup melted butter
3 tablespoons cinnamon
Powdered glaze (recipe follows)
Colored sugar (recipe follows)
In a large bowl, combine 1½ cups flour, ¼ cup sugar, salt and yeast. Heat the milk, water and butter until very warm, around 120-130 degrees F. Add to the dry ingredients and beat at medium speed with a mixer for 2 minutes. Using a dough hook, stir in the remaining flour (2¾ cups) to make a stiff batter. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours.
Combine the remaining 1 cup sugar and cinnamon and reserve.
Punch the dough down and place on a lightly floured surface. Divide into 3 equal portions. Roll each piece into a 30” by 4” rectangle. Brush with the melted butter and sprinkle evenly with the cinnamon sugar. Beginning at the long side, roll each piece up tightly as if making a jelly roll. Pinch the seams to form long ropes. Braid the three ropes and then form into an oval. Place on a greased baking sheet. Cover and let rise in a warm, draft-free place until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
Bake at 375 degrees F for approximately 15 minutes or until lightly golden brown. Brush with powdered sugar glaze and sprinkle with colored sugar, alternating colors.
2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
2-3 tablespoons milk
Combine and whisk ingredients until smooth.
1 ½ cups sugar
8 drops green food coloring
8 drops yellow food coloring
8 drops blue food coloring
16 drops red food coloring
Place ½ cup sugar with 8 drops of green food coloring in a plastic bag, seal bag and shake until combined thoroughly. Repeat the process mixing the yellow food coloring with ½ cup of sugar. To make the purple sugar, mix the blue and red food coloring together and add ½ cup sugar in a plastic bag and shake until combined thoroughly.