It's Fat Tuesday back home in the Big Easy, where I spent all of my childhood and a good chunk of my adulthood. Mardi Gras is a New Orleans tradition, dating back to the 18th century, but parades actually started rolling in 1857..it was the Krewe of Comus which still rolls today. Parades roll for 2 weeks prior to Mardi Gras day, the day before Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent in the Catholic church.
This cake is traditionally eaten during Mardi Gras season mostly at parties, at parties and at breakfast by me! A small plastic baby or pecan is hidden in the cake after baking and the person who finds it is King or Queen for the rest of the party and traditionally would host the next party.
Being hard to find outside of Louisiana (the crap they sell at target here doesn't count IMO) I decided to make my own this year instead of ordering. I had never made it before, but now that I see how easy it is, I'll be doing it all the time! This recipe is, in my humble opionion, every bit as good as the cakes found at the best bakeries back home.
I didn't take pictures of the early process of the dough, but the recipe is dead on. Scald the milk, remove from heat, add butter and let melt. Put yeast into bowl of mixer, add water, let bubble for 10 minutes. Add the milk and butter mix. With paddle attachment, mix in the eggs, nutmeg and sugar. Mix in the flour one cup at a time. Change to the hook attachment and let the machine knead it for 5-7 minutes. Remove and place in oiled bowl. Cover and let rise 2 hours or until double. Punch down.
Meanwhile mix up your filling. Set aside.
Here you have two options. You can cut the dough in half and make two smaller king cakes, or make one big one like I did. The process is the same either way. Roll out on floured counter to a rectangle.
Sprinkle the filling evenly.
Roll tightly into a cylinder.
Place on a cookie sheet covered with parchment. Put something in the middle to keep the hole from closing then cover and let rise another 45 minutes.
When it's doubled again, remove the insert and bake at 325 for 30-35 minutes or until golden. Let cool a bit.
Meanwhile, make your colored sugar. You can use regular granulated or crystals. I used food coloring (4- drops yellow and green each in their own bags, 2 drops each red and blue in the purple bag. Use more if needed.) Shake shake shake.
Mix a thin solution of confectioner's sugar and water and paint on the cake, then sprinkle your colored sugars, alternating colors.
Then make a thicker icing with confectioners sugar and water and drizzle all over. Hide the baby and it's ready to eat!
Ce les bon temps roulez!!!! (Let the good times roll!)