I have a super good friend of mine that is in love with everything Mardi Gras, and I know she looks forward to it every year. Well, this year, I decided to try my hand at a King Cake. I also knew that I would need to get her honest opinion as well since she would be the closest thing to an expert that I had here locally. *smiles*
Let’s begin with – What is a King Cake?
I think it will be easier if I let KingCake.com explain what a King Cake is to you…
“The King Cake is believed to have originated in France around the 12th century. These early Europeans celebrated the coming of the three wise men bearing gifts twelve days after Christmas calling it the Feast of the epiphany, Twelfth Night, or King’s Day.
The main part of the celebration was the baking of a King’s Cake to honor the three Kings. The cakes were made circular to portray the circular route used by the kings to get to the Christ Child, which was taken to confuse King Herod who was trying to follow the wise men so he could kill the Christ Child. In these early King Cakes a bean, pea, or coin was hidden inside the cake. The person who got the hidden piece was declared King for the day or was said to have good luck in the coming year.
In Louisiana, Twelfth Night also signifies the beginning of the carnival season which ends with Mardi Gras Day. The bean, pea and the coin have been replaced by a small plastic baby to symbolize the Christ Child. The person who gets the baby is expected to carry on the carnival festivities by hosting the next King Cake party.”
I found the recipe I used at AllRecipes.com and instead of making the dough by hand, I allowed my bread machine to do the heavy work for me on the dough cycle. I still haven’t tried that dough thing where you let it rise and do things by hand….I’ll admit it, I’m kinda chickening out on that one while I have my bread machine. *huge smiles* One day though, I promise.
It was quite easy to roll the dough out, and I had help from the hub with getting the ingredients together and the filling made. I did learn, however, before I put icing on, I need to brush the excess flour off the dough. Otherwise, my icing doesn’t stick. Next time I will know, and you will see the excess flour in the picture where the bright colored icing didn’t stick. *hehe, oops*
Well, my friend had a piece the next day at work, and I braced myself for her honest opinion. She said that the dough was spot on. *go me!* She then said the filling was tasty (maybe not the term, but she liked it *smiles*). Then the truth came out….the dough was denser than the King Cakes she was accustomed to. It ended up more like a bread texture, than a coffee cake/pull-apart kind of bread. Now, like I said, I’m not a bread maker, nor will I ever claim to be. BUT, I can’t help but wonder if the bread machine had anything to do with this. Was it over-mixed? Did I mess with it too much when rolling it out? Maybe it was just cooked too long? Hmmm….One will never know.
Final verdict…I did enjoy this cake/pastry. The hub decorated one, and I decorated the other. Will I make it again? Maaaaaaybeeeeeeee next year for Mardi Gras. *wink*
***The recipe makes TWO cakes, and if you get 16 slices out of each cake, it’s 6 WW points plus per slice.***
Mardi Gras King Cake
- 1 cup milk
- 1/4 cup butter
- 2 (.25 ounce) packages active dry yeast
- 2/3 cup warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
- 1/2 cup white sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 5 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 cup packed brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
- 2/3 cup chopped pecans
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup raisins
- 1/2 cup melted butter
- 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
- 1 tablespoon water
- Scald milk, remove from heat and stir in 1/4 cup of butter. Allow mixture to cool to room temperature. In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in the warm water with 1 tablespoon of the white sugar. Let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes.
- When yeast mixture is bubbling, add the cooled milk mixture. Whisk in the eggs. Stir in the remaining white sugar, salt and nutmeg. Beat the flour into the milk/egg mixture 1 cup at a time. When the dough has pulled together, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 8 to 10 minutes.
- Lightly oil a large bowl, place the dough in the bowl and turn to coat with oil. Cover with a damp cloth or plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, about 2 hours. When risen, punch down and divide dough in half.
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Grease 2 cookie sheets or line with parchment paper.
- To Make Filling: Combine the brown sugar, ground cinnamon, chopped pecans, 1/2 cup flour and 1/2 cup raisins. Pour 1/2 cup melted butter over the cinnamon mixture and mix until crumbly.
- Roll dough halves out into large rectangles (approximately 10×16 inches or so). Sprinkle the filling evenly over the dough and roll up each half tightly like a jelly roll, beginning at the wide side. Bring the ends of each roll together to form 2 oval shaped rings. Place each ring on a prepared cookie sheet. With scissors make cuts 1/3 of the way through the rings at 1 inch intervals. Let rise in a warm spot until doubled in size, about 45 minutes.
- Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes. Push the doll into the bottom of the cake. Frost while warm with the confectioners’ sugar blended with 1 to 2 tablespoons of water.