Each king cake usually has a small plastic baby, nut, or bean symbolizing baby Jesus. Depending on where you live, the person who gets the piece of cake with the "baby" has to have the next party, supply the next cake, is declared king or queen for a day, is going to have a baby, or has to prepare tamales for the Candlemass feast. The cake is decorated in traditional Mardi Gras colors: green (faith), gold (power), and purple (justice).
My favorite king cakes are the filled cakes. When I lived in New Orleans, I never thought to make a king cake because it was so easy to buy one. Like everyone else in New Orleans, I had my favorite bakery and I ate lots of king cake. Now I have two options for king cake, I can have one shipped or make my own. I decided to make my own that way I can fill my king cake with cream cheese and pralines. Yum! These cakes are not difficult at all to make. The dough is so easy to work with. I would like to tell you that these take no time at all. That would be a lie. It took me most of a day to make this cake. While a lot of that time was the cake rising, you should plan on four plus hours from start to finish.
2 1/4 Tsp (One Packet) of Yeast
1/2 Cup (120 ml) of Milk
6 Tbsp of Butter, Softened
2 Tbsp of Sugar
1/4 Tsp of Salt
1 Egg, at Room Temperature
1/2 Tsp of Cinnamon
1/2 Tsp of Ground Nutmeg
2 1/2- 3 Cups (300g to 360g) of Flour
In a small saucepan heat the milk to 100-110F/38-43C. Pour the milk into your mixing bowl and add the yeast and the sugar. Let the yeast mixture sit for 10 minutes or until foamy. (If the yeast does not react throw out the yeast mixture and start again).
In a small bowl, beat the egg and add to the yeast mixture. In another small bowl combine the flour, spices, and salt. Add the butter to the egg/milk mixture, turn on the mixer and gradually add the dry ingredients. I add 2 1/2 cups (300 g) of flour and once it is combined, I switch to a dough hook and mix the dough until a soft ball forms. Up to 1/2 cup (60 g) of flour may need to be added (a small amount at a time) for the soft ball to form.
|The dough has formed a soft ball and is ready to knead|
|Kneaded dough ready to rise|
Once the dough is ready, punch the dough. Place on a lightly floured surface. I like to use parchment paper so then I can transfer the dough on the parchment paper to a cooking sheet without messing up the dough. Roll the dough out into a rectangle. Place gobs of the cream cheese and praline mixture on one half of the rectangle (do not use all of the fillings). Keep the filling away from the edges of the cake otherwise you will have filling oozing out while it bakes.
|Rolled out dough with gobs of filling|
|Folded dough with gobs of filling|
|Folded dough ready to form into an oval|
|Rising king cake|
|Ready for the oven|
|Iced king cake|
Cream Cheese Filling
8 oz (227 g) of Cream Cheese
1/4 Cup (50 g) Sugar
1 Tsp of Vanilla
Combine cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla and beat until creamy.
1 Cup (128 g) of Pecans
1/4 Cup (56 g) of Butter, Melted
1/2 Cup (120 g) of Packed Brown Sugar
1/2 Tsp of Cinnamon
1/4 Tsp of Nutmeg
Mix all of the ingredients together.
|Mmmmmm praline filling|
1 Tablespoon of Butter, Melted
2 Cups (230 g) of Powdered Sugar
2-4 Tablespoons of Half and Half or Cream
1/2 Tsp of Flavoring, Optional
1-2 Drops of Food Coloring
Place the sugar in a plastic bag and add one drop of food coloring and rub the sugar and the food coloring together. Add one drop of food coloring at a time until desired color is reached.