Get out the masks and beads, it’s time to party! Can you believe that Ash Wednesday is around the corner already? What a great way to celebrate before Lent begins, by having a King Cake. This cake is a tradition by many in the south for Mardi Gras, and I want to carry that on to my northern friends and family. I have seen this cake in stores up north, but I have to say that it’s not the same… so I grabbed a couple of recipes by some well known chefs in Louisiana and attempted to make an authentic King cake!
What makes it military style? You see, I was supposed to put a king cake baby or a bean or pecan in the cake, for one lucky person to find, and I didn’t have those items on hand. So I found a miniature military figure and placed that in the cake instead. Also, I have altered the glaze so it’s not the traditional white. I would say that the glazed was “camouflaged,” as it blended with the cake.
Regardless, it’s still a beautiful cake with the braided look signifying the 3 kings.
What tips can I provide? Give yourself time. The dough needs to rise twice. It’s a long process, but there is a LOT of cake that comes out of this batch and can feed, well, an army. (sorry for the play on words!)
Stage 1 -Ingredients: (this portion was from Emeril Lagasse)
- 1/2 cup warm water (105 to 115 degrees)
- 2 packages dry yeast
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 4 to 5 cups flour
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
- 1/2 cup warm milk (105 to 115 degrees)
- 1/2 cup melted unsalted butter, cooled
- 5 egg yolks
Stage 1- Directions:
Combine the warm water, yeast and 2 teaspoons sugar in a small bowl. Mix well and set aside to a warm place for about 10 minutes. Combine the 4 cups of flour, 1/2 cup sugar, salt, nutmeg, lemon rind and add warm milk, melted butter, egg yolks and yeast mixture. Beat until smooth. Turn dough out on a lightly floured surface. Knead in enough remaining flour until the dough is no longer sticky. Continue kneading until the dough is smooth and elastic (about 10 minutes). Place the dough in a well-greased bowl. Turn once so greased surface is on top. Cover the dough and let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk (about 1 hour).
Stage 2- Ingredients: (portion by Chef John Folse)
- ¼ cup melted butter
- ½ cup sugar
- 1 tbsp cinnamon
- eggwash (½ cup milk, 2 eggs, beaten)
Stage 2- Directions:
After dough has proofed, roll out on a well-floured surface into an 18″ x 12″ rectangle. Brush top of dough with melted butter then sprinkle with mixture of sugar and cinnamon. Cut dough vertically into three even strips that will measure approximately 4″ x 18″. Fold each strip in half to make it 2″ wide. Form into a basic three-strand braid then shape into a circle and pinch ends. Brush the entire cake with eggwash and proof in a warm place until the cake doubles in size. Bake 20-25 minutes at 350 degrees until golden brown.
Stage 3- Glaze!
- 2 pounds powdered sugar
- 1 pinch salt
- 1 tbsp almond extract
- ¾ cup water
- 2 tbsps cinnamon
Stage 3- Glaze Directions:
In a large mixing bowl, combine sugar and salt. Place in an electric mixer. Slowly pour in almond extract and water while mixing on low speed. Add cinnamon and continue to blend until glaze is smooth.
Drizzle glaze over the entire cake and sprinkle with purple, green, and gold sugars. If you don’t have sugars on hand, you can place sugar into a jar and shake it with food coloring to get to the desired color.
Final addition: place the king cake baby, military figure, bean or pecan in the cake. Whoever finds the item has to make the cake next year!