I know that some of my blogs are lacking the traditional health element lately, but I also believe in enjoying life by exercising moderation! And, nothing screams “Wow,it’s Mardi Gras and I better indulge in a little sugary goodness before the deprivation of Lent begins” like Louisiana King Cake! I’m from Detroit, where the sinful Fat Tuesday pastry of choice is the Paczki–a fried, fruit-filled Polish donut.
It wasn’t until I married a Louisiana native and moved south that I heard of the King Cake. For the northerners who know nothing about this royally decadent dessert, I thought I’d offer a little background along with a delectable, authentic recipe from my friend, Stephanie Brown.
Having a King Cake at your Mardi Gras party adds a fun, festive touch because it’s usually colored purple, green and gold (the traditional Mardi Gras colors). It’s ring-shaped and topped with icing or sugar. Cajun king cakes are traditionally deep-fat-fried (similar to a donut) and some contain filling like cream cheese or pralines. There is also the New Orleans tradition that whoever finds the baby trinket baked into the cake must provide the next king cake or host the next Mardi Gras party.
Stephanie’s King Cake Recipe (in her own words)
This is actually my grandmother’s cinnamon roll recipe, so she adds raisins on the inside and a few cherries in slits she makes on the top.
3 1/2 cups flour
1 package Rapid Rise dry yeast
1/4 cup of sugar
1/4 cup Crisco
1 1/4 cup milk
1 tablespoon salt
1 egg – beaten
Combine 2 cups of flour & yeast. In a saucepan heat milk, sugar, crisco and salt to 120 degrees. Pour this mixture into flour/yeast mixture and beat well with an electric mixer and then add egg. Slowly add 1 1/2 cup flour and beat well, and then let the dough rise in a warm place until it has doubled in size. Roll out dough to about 20-24″ and brush with soft butter. Sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar. Roll up jelly roll style, form a ring, and pinch ends together. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes and let the cake cool before adding the glaze. For glaze, use 1/2 box of confectioners sugar with lemon juice and milk to make a thick glaze and use purple, gold and green sprinkles to add Mardi Gras colors.
The cake is so colorful, it should serve as a centerpiece for your table. Garnish with Mardi Gras beads–they will no doubt get thrown before the end of the night.