Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Mardi Gras King Cake

Mardi Gras. Fat Tuesday. Carnival! The time of year to let loose and enjoy yourself. And, time for delicious sweet treats!

Every year I make king cake. It's a bread-like cinnamon yeasted cake topped with a sweet lemony glaze and gold, green, and purple sprinkles. There are lots of different versions of this cake, some with a pecan filling, some with a cream cheese topping, but I like this version the best. It's adapted from a recipe by John Besh, a famous New Orleans chef.

Traditionally, there's a little trinket or plastic baby inserted into the finished cake. It's said that whoever gets the piece of cake with the baby gets to buy the next cake for the next Carnival party. Many countries have their own versions of king cake, and this one is from Louisiana and the Gulf Coast area. It's a braided round cake, and the sprinkles are always the traditional Mardi Gras colors: purple for justice, gold for power, and green for faith.

Since I've made this a few times before, it was just a matter of finding the recipe and executing it. The dough was simple, kind of sticky but very elastic and rose up very well. I had a hard time rolling out the three ropes to braid them due to lack of counter space. But I managed ok. After a second rise, and a quick bake, the beautiful braid was done!

While the cake cooled, I whipped up the glaze, which is just lemon juice and powdered sugar. Getting the consistency right is the key. In fact, the first time I made the glaze it wasn't enough, so I made more to add on top after I had used the sprinkles. In fact, I've made this cake for so many years that I'm running out of gold, green, and purple sprinkles. Time for a trip to the cake decorating store!

Although I didn't have a plastic baby or fava bean to put in the cake, everyone enjoyed it anyways. It's a yearly tradition that I look forward to every year.

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