There’s only one way to celebrate Mardi Gras, and that is with a traditional New Orleans Mardi Gras King Cake. Isabel and beaux volunteered to take on the baking of the King Cake this year. Here is the recipe they used and some photos of the process.
1/4 cup warm water (105 to 115 degrees F)
1 envelope active dry yeast
1/4 cup warm milk (105 to 115 degrees F)
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter or margarine, softened
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt 3 to 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour 2 large eggs
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2/3 cup packed light brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 red bean, pecan half, or small plastic baby figurine
1 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1 to 2 tablespoons milk
Purple, green, and yellow paste food coloring
For the dough: Pour the warm water into a large warmed bowl. Sprinkle in the yeast and stir until it dissolves. Stir in the warm milk, butter, sugar, nutmeg, and salt. Add 1 cup of the flour and blend well. Stir in the eggs and enough of the remaining flour to make a soft dough.
Lightly flour a flat work surface, and turn out the dough. Knead until smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes, adding more flour if the dough sticks.
Put in a large greased bowl, and turn to grease the top of the dough. Cover with a kitchen towel and let rise in a warm, draft-free place until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
For the filling: Punch the dough down. Transfer to the lightly floured work surface and use a rolling pin to roll into a 30-by-9-inch rectangle. Brush with the melted butter. Combine the brown sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl. Sprinkle the brown sugar mixture over the dough to within 1/2 inch of the edges. Beginning at the long end, roll up tightly, as for a jelly roll. Pinch the seam to seal.
If using a red bean or pecan half, push it into the underside of the dough to hide it. (A baby charm will go in after baking.) Cover and let rise in a warm, draft-free place until doubled in size, about 20 to 40 minutes. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Bake for 30 minutes, or until lightly browned. Remove the cake from the baking sheet and let cool on a wire rack. If using a plastic baby figurine, push it into the underside of the cake.
For the frosting: In a small bowl mix together the sugar, almond extract, and milk until smooth. Divide among three smaller bowls. Tint one mixture purple, the second one green, and the third one gold, mixing each one well. Drizzle each color over the top of the cake.
Now, the visuals: