I’ve always wanted to attempt making a homemade King Cake for Mardi Gras, and this year, per my husband’s request and my sheer determination, I decided to go for it! I didn’t have a recipe to start, but then I saw that The Catholic Foodie has shared his tried and true recipe with the world. Any new recipe is a little intimidating, but with a little time and attention, this is literally a piece of cake!
This starts as a pretty normal bread recipe, but the hints of lemon and nutmeg really make it something special. I decided to add some pecans and cinnamon to the cream cheese filling to add a little more texture and flavor. As for the icing, you can either make colored icings instead of sprinkles, but just FYI – colored sugars are SO easy to make in whatever color you’re needing. Just put some granulated sugar in a ziploc bag, add a little gel food coloring, and smoosh it together for a while till it’s all incorporated. Voila – cheap and simple colored sugar – fit for a King Cake!
I hope yall had a fun Mardi Gras and are having a blessed Lenten season!
Mardi Gras King Cake
2 packets of active dry yeast (4 1/2 tsp)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 sticks of butter, melted
1 cup warm milk (about 110 F)
5 large egg yolks, room temperature
4 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour
2 tsp salt
1 tsp nutmeg (freshly grated if possible!)
1 tsp grated lemon zest
1 tsp vegetable or olive oil
1 lb cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup chopped pecans
1/4 tsp cinnamon
3 1/2 cups confectioner’s sugar
1 plastic king cake baby
5 Tbsp milk, room temperature
3 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
Purple, green, and yellow food coloring or colored sugar
Yield: 1 large cake (about 15-20 servings)
For the dough: Combine the yeast and the granulated sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. If you don’t have a stand mixer, don’t worry, you can do the same thing by hand in a large mixing bowl. Add melted butter and warm milk and beat for one minute at medium-low speed. With the mixer still running, add the egg yolks and beat for another minute. Add the flour, salt, nutmeg, and lemon zest and beat until everything is incorporated. Increase the speed to high and beat until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl and forms a ball (or starts to climb up the dough hook). As with any dough, you may have to add water (a tablespoon at a time) or more flour to get the right results. Remove the dough from the bowl and, using your hands, form it into a smooth ball. Using vegetable or regular olive oil, lightly oil a large mixing bowl. Place the dough in the bowl, rolling it around to coat it on all sides with oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set aside in a warm, draft-free place for about 2 hours. You want the dough to double in size.
For the filling: In a large mixing bowl, combine the cream cheese, pecans, cinnamon, and 1/2 cup of confectioner’s sugar. Blend using a fork or an electric mixer on low speed. Set aside.
After the dough has doubled in size: Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Using your hands or a rolling pin, roll it out into a rectangle about 30 inches long and 6 inches wide. Take the cream cheese filling and spread it out lengthwise over the bottom half of the dough. Flip the top half of the dough over the filling and seal the edges with your fingers, pinching the dough together. Shape the dough into a cylinder and place it on a lined baking sheet seam side down. Shape it into a ring and pinch the ends together, doing your best so that there’s no visible seam. Cover the ring with plastic wrap (or a clean kitchen towel) and set aside in a warm, draft-free place. Let the dough rise until doubled in size (about 45 minutes). Preheat oven to 350 F. Once the cake has doubled in size, remove the plastic wrap or towel and brush the surface of the cake with 2 Tbsp of milk. Place cake in oven and bake 25 to 30 minutes, until it is golden brown. Remove from the oven and carefully place the cake on a wire rack so that it can cool completely. When it is completely cooled, insert the plastic baby from the bottom of the cake.
For the icing: In a mixing bowl, combine 3 cups of confectioner’s sugar, 3 Tbsp of milk and 3 Tbsp of lemon juice. Stir well with a fork or whisk. Once the cake is completely cooled, spread the icing over the cake with a spoon. Sprinkle colored sugars alternately in purple, green, and yellow. Or instead of using colored sugars, before icing, divide the icing into three small bowls and color them with purple, green, and yellow food coloring. Ice the cake, alternating the icing colors. Slice, serve, and enjoy!
Source: Slightly adapted from The Catholic Foodie