No Mardi Gras celebration is complete without a King Cake. This cake is actually a sweetened yeast bread, usually baked in a ring shape. The cake is frosted with gold, green, and purple icing representing in order, power, faith, and justice. Although this cake is colorful and tasty, the real fun hides within the cake. The maker of each King Cake hides a token in the cake. The tokens used are a dried red bean or a figurine of a baby, representing the Christ child. When the cake is cut and shared, the finder of the hidden treasure is said to enjoy good luck for the coming year. The lucky recipient may also be expected to bake the King Cake or throw the Mardi Gras party for the following year.
King Cake Recipe
- Complexity: medium
- 1 envelope active dry yeast
- 1/4 cup warm water, about 105 to 115 degrees
- 2 tablespoons milk, scalded and cooled
- 4 to 5 cups flour
- 8 ounces butter
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 4 eggs
- 2 teaspoons melted butter
- very small plastic doll, a large bean, or coin
- light corn syrup for topping
- granulated sugar colored with food coloring pastes: green, purple, and yellow
- Dissolve yeast in warm water. Add milk and about 1/2 cup of flour. In a large bowl, blend butter, sugar, salt and eggs. Add yeast mixture and mix thoroughly. Gradually, add 2 1/2 cups flour to make a medium dough.
- Place in a greased bowl and brush with melted butter. Cover with a damp cloth and allow to rise until double in volume, about 3 hours. Use 1 cup or more flour to knead dough and roll into a 4 to 5 foot long rope. Form into a oval on a 14 x 17" greased baking sheet, connecting ends of the rope with a few drops of water to make a good seal.
- Press the doll, bean, or coin into the dough from bottom. Cover dough ring with a damp cloth and let rise until double in volume, about 1 hour. Bake at 325° for 35 to 45 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool. Brush top of cake with corn syrup and sprinkle with alternating bands of colored sugar. If desired, freeze cake.