HAPPY MARDI GRAS SEASON!!! Today is the Epiphany, or the Three King’s Day, which means that Christmas is over, and it’s the start of Mardi Gras season! Years ago, that would have meant nothing to me. But after living in New Orleans for so long, it means that it’s time to decorate the Christmas tree with the colors of faith, power, and justice and pop a king cake in the oven.
King Cake is a Mardi Gras staple, and everyone has an opinion as to which one is the best. But have you ever tried it at home?
Throughout the course of Mardi Gras, I will be making king cakes for THREE levels of difficulty. So if you’re nervous about yeast, make the easy one! If this seems like a good fit, bake away! If you’re up to a challenge, wait a little, and the blog will deliver.
There is always a baby or a bean hidden inside a King Cake. Well, unless you work for a bakery that is worried about getting sued for choking… At any rate, someone will inevitably find the hidden baby Jesus, and then that person makes the next king cake! Happy Mardi Gras!
Prep Step! Measure out all of your ingredients. Mix the dry ingredients together.
Heat the milk until it is lukewarm. That means that it needs to be between 110°F and 115°F. Sprinkle the yeast on top, and let it sit for about ten minutes, until it’s frothy.
Whisk the yolks in a separate bowl. Then, add the melted butter, egg yolks, vanilla, and lemon zest. Mix it all together. Slowly, beat in the dry ingredients.
Time to knead! It’s more fun to do my hand, but you can let your mixer do it for you if you want. Make sure that i’s fitted with the dough hook. Knead for about ten minutes, until it stretches (kind of like taffy) when pulled. Place it in a greased bowl, and turn once so that the greased “bottom” is now on top. Cover the bowl with a towel, and set it in a warm place for an hour and a half. It will rise to about double of the volume!
Punch down the dough. Then divide it into three balls. Roll each out until it is about two feet long. Braid the ropes of dough, and then shape it into a circle. You should put something in the middle so that it stays round while it bakes. Originally (in the picture) I used a 28oz tomato can, but I later switched it out with a round cake pan so that the ring would be larger. Cover the ring again with a towel, and let it rise for an additional 30 minutes. Preheat your oven to 350F.
Cover the ring loosely with aluminum foil and pop it in the oven. Bake for about 25 minutes. Then, take the foil off and continue to bake for about 5 to 10 minutes, until the outside is golden brown. Let cool for about 30 minutes, or until it is cool to the touch.
Whisk the ingredients for the icing together. Drizzle along the ring; the icing will drip off of the edges. Sprinkle with the Mardi Gras colors: purple, gold, green. Don’t forget to hide the baby!