After making a rich and indulgent Gumbo, I want to offer lagniappe (lan-yap). a special bonus, to top off a perfect meal. It just wouldn't be Mardi Gras without King Cake. I decided on a decadent cream cheese filling. On discovery, there are many other fillings that I plan to bake in the future, but this choice is more than enough for now.
King Cake's history includes the the three wise men (Kings) and their epiphany to follow a star on the twelth night of Christmas. Their three traditional and symbolic colors of gold (God's power). green (Faith in Christ), and purple (Justice of God) are used to decorate the top. Historically, a symbolic porcelain baby Jesus was baked inside of the cake. If one was lucky enough to be served this piece, they would be king for a day. Other traditions require the finder to provide another cake the following year. I use a pecan to symbolize the Christ child. My nursing background immediately takes me back to a parent running into triage with a child in their arms. I will spare you rest of that story, and leave you with something to think about on the matter of choking hazards.
I use eggs provided by my girls. I also buy yeast in bulk. I share half with a friend, because I couldn't ever use it all before it goes bad. I store it in the refrigerator and weigh out what I need. An envelope is equivalent to 1/8th ounce.
Melt butter along with sour cream, sugar, and salt in a small pot on low heat. Stir it just until the butter melts. Take off the burner. Set aside to cool.
Add yeast to warm water and sugar. Let stand until the yeast shows growth and is bubbly on top. If this action doesn't happen within five minutes, either the yeast is bad, or the water was too hot and it was burned. It's important in any recipe that uses yeast to have yeast that will grow.
When the butter/sour cream mixture has cooled to the touch, and the yeast has grown, mix both into a bowl along with egg and one cup flour. Beat until smooth.
Add the remaining flour with a dough hook, if available, until a soft dough forms.
Turn out on a silicone mat to knead until smooth and elastic, about ten minutes. I just can't say enough about a silicone mat. I have one designated solely for the use of dough. It seriously makes clean up easier.
Cover and let rise until double in size (about an hour depending on ambient temperature) in a warm darft-free place.
Roll out to an approximate twelve inch by twenty-four inch.
Beat 1/2 c sugar with cream cheese egg, and the beans fron half a vanilla pod. I store my leftover empty pods with bourbon in a dark glass jar. Approximately every six weeks, I drain the liquor off and start over again. When I say to drain the liqor, I mean drain, save, and store back in the dark bottle from whence it came. Discard the pods. It truly is the easiest, least expensive, and most flavorful vanilla extract ever.
Spread the cream cheese mixture to within an inch of the edges.
Roll up length-wise. Place a symbolic pecan somewhere inside while rolling.
Bring the edges together to make a ring. Moisten the ends with a little water while pinching then together to make a seal.
In retrospect, a better way would have been to twist that rolled up tube while stretching it out before bringing the edges together. You can see how this is going to make a huge donut, rather than have a nice hollow center.
Place seam- side down on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper. Cover and let rise until double in size, about half an hour. Bake at 325 for 45 minutes.
Transfer to a wire rack. That parchment came in handy, right? Cool for twenty minutes.
Melt a healthy tablespoon of butter. Remove from heat, Add one cup powdered sugar and stir until combined. Stir in vanilla. Add milk, a teaspoon at a time, until your icing is smooth and has a slightly thin consistency.
Using a pastry brush spread icing over the top and sides. If you fing that your icing in the pot dries out while spreading, add a little more milk.
Sprinkle with the colors of the Kings. If your icing dries out on your cake before you get your cake completely decorated, don't despair. Find a clean water bottle and gently mist the icing. Immediatley sprinkle on the colored sugar. Do this in sections, and don't get too liberal with the water or a big runny mess will result.
Decorate. Appease that anticipation thats been building while you crafted this masterpiece you have just created. Indulge. I prefer to serve it up with a smooth cup of cafe au lait.
A note on Mardi Gras beads. I teasingly asked a friend (who generously supplied my decorations) what she had to do to attain these beads. She informed me that the locals aren't the ones lifting their shirts to acquire them. The locals are the ones scrambling around, picking them up off the ground or catching them in the air. The tourists are the ones using loose morals to add to the party we know as Mardi Gras. Either way, aren't they beautiful? Thank you Trudy.
- 1/4 c butter
- 8 0z sour cream
- 4 T powdered sugar
- 1/2 t salt
- 1/8 oz or 1 envelope active dry yeast
- 1/4 c warm water
- 2 t sugar
- 3- 3 1/4 c flour, divided
- 1 large egg
- 1/2 c powdered sugar
- 1 softened 8 oz package cream cheese
- 1 small egg
- seeds from 1/2 vanilla bean, save the other half for the icing OR 1 t vanilla extract
- 1 heaping T butter
- 1 c powdered sugar
- seeds from 1/2 vanilla bean OR 1 t vanilla extract
- 2 T milk give or take
I used store bought colored sugar because I had it. If you don't have it, simply fill three baggies with 1/4 each of granulated sugar. In one bag, add 2-3 drops of green food coloring and in another add yellow. Shake the bags until all of the sugar is coated with food coloring. If you prefer a deeeper color, add more food coloring. To achieve the purple sugar, mix blue and red food coloring together with your sugar.