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King Cakes Recipes Disk 157
















One way you can tell that Mardi Gras season is here, is by the King Cakes that pop up all over Louisiana. A King Cake can be best described as a circular, braided cinnamon coffee roll, 12 to 24-inch in diameter, with lots of pretty purple, gold and green icing (and of course, there is a little plastic baby inside).

So, what's this thing about a plastic baby inside? Yep. In every one! The general rule is that you try to get a piece of the cake without the baby, because if you get the baby, you buy the next King Cake!

Okay, maybe I misled you a little. The coffee roll is what the King Cake used to be. As more and more bakeries started to bake King Cakes, it was inevitable that each would try to best their competition with something really unique. To that end, they started to arrive with chocolate filling, then cherry, lemon, apple, pineapple, blueberry, peach or whipped cream.

The cheesecake (and later the chocolate cheesecake) filling soon became the standard of King Cake decadence. For sure, some today have about 10,000 mega-calories -- enough to maintain your metabolism well past Easter. Any wonder why people fast during Lent?

The little plastic babies were always about 3/4-inch long, and pink (some were deep pink, and others were pale) although one New Orleans bakery decided to switch to a gold baby.

In European Countries, the coming of the Wise Men bearing gifts to the Christ Child is celebrated twelve days after Christmas. This celebration, called Epiphany, Little Christmas or the Twelfth Night, is a time of exchanging gifts and feasting. All over the world people gather for festive twelfth night celebrations. One of the most popular customs is still the baking of a special cake in honor of the three kings --- "A King's Cake". The Europeans hide a bean inside their cake and the person receiving the bean must portray one of the kings. Latin American people put a small figure inside the cake representing the Christ Child. It is said that a year of good fortune awaits the lucky person who gets the figure.

Louisianans like the idea of perpetuating the celebration by having the person who received the baby continue the festivities with another party and another cake. Starting the twelfth day after Christmas, King Cake Parties continue until the first day of Lent, ending on Fat Tuesday, Mardi Gras! King Cakes were originally a simple ring of dough with little decoration. The New Orleans King Cake is brightly decorated with Mardi Gras colored sugars and usually contains a small plastic baby. Back in the plantation days, wealthy Louisiana plantation owners would sometimes put a precious stone or jewel in the cake rather than a bean or baby.

In certain cultures, the king cake might contain a coin, bean, pecan or pea. In medieval France, the coin finder was expected to make a contribution to a worthy cause, usually the education of a deserving youngster. In some parts of Europe, those who find the bean and pea are king and queen for the day. In New Orleans, the person who receives the piece of cake containing a "baby" must provide the king cake for the next gathering of the season.

Most of the cakes usually have a 1-inch plastic baby inside. The circular shape and baby symbolizes the search of the wise men looking for the Christ child.

The King Cake is usually a brioche-style cake traditionally made throughout Louisiana during the weeks prior to the Mardi Gras.

Also known as Twelfth Night Cake, the King Cake is prepared in New Orleans bakeries for the period between the Twelfth Night (January 6) and Ash Wednesday.

The tradition is thought to have begun with French settlers, continuing a custom dating back to 12th century France, when a similar cake was used to celebrate the coming of the three wise men bearing gifts twelve days after Christmas, calling it the feast of Epiphany, Twelfth Night, or King's Day.

The cakes are baked in many shapes now, but originally were round in shape to portray the circular route taken by the Kings to confuse King Herod who was trying to follow the wise men so he could kill the Christ child.

The cakes usually contain a bean, pea, or a figurine symbolizing the baby Jesus. In 1871 the tradition of choosing the queen of the Mardi Gras was determined by who drew the prize in the cake. It is definitely considered good luck to the person who gets the figure, and that person usually holds the next King's Cake party.

The Rex Krewe, a Mardi Gras parade organization, chose the festival's symbolic colors, and since 1872 the colors have been used to tint the cake's icing. The colors are purple (for justice), green (for faith), and gold (for power).




KING CAKE 1  Back to Top

2 packages dry active yeast
1/2 cup sugar
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
5 egg yolks
1 cup warm milk (110 degrees F)
4 to 5 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
Vegetable oil
8 ounces cream cheese
2-1/2 cups powdered sugar
Juice of one lemon
2 tablespoons milk
Purple, green and gold sugar sprinkles
Plastic baby toy

Preheat the oven 350 degrees F. Combine the yeast, sugar, butter, and egg yolks in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook. Add the milk. With the mixer on low speed, beat the mixture for about 4 minutes to dissolve the yeast. If the yeast mixture doesn't begin to foam after a few minutes, it means it's not active and will have to be replaced. In a separate large mixing bowl, combine the flour, salt, nutmeg, and lemon zest. Add this mixture to the yeast mixture. Mix on low speed until it lightly comes together, then increase the speed to medium and beat until the mixture pulls away from the sides of the bowl, forms a ball, and climbs slightly up the dough hook. 

Remove the dough from the bowl. Coat the dough with vegetable oil. Return the dough to the bowl and turn it to oil all sides. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, set in a warm, draft-free place, and let rise until doubled in size, about 2 hours. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine the cream cheese and 1/2 cup powdered sugar. Mix well. In another small bowl, combine the remaining powdered sugar, lemon juice and milk. Mix well and set aside. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface. Roll the dough out 30 inches long and 6 inches in diameter. Spread the cream cheese filling across the center of the dough. Bring the two long edges together and seal all sides completely. Using your hands shape the dough into a long cylinder and place on a greased baking sheet, seam side down. Shape the dough into a ring. 

Place a well-greased 2 pound coffee can or shortening can in the center of the ring to maintain the shape during baking. Press the plastic baby toy into the ring from the bottom so that it is completely hidden by the dough. Cover the ring with a towel and place in a warm, draft free place. Let the dough rise for about 45 minutes or until the dough doubles in size. With a sharp knife, make several slits around the top of the ring. Place in the oven and bake for 30 minutes, or until golden brown. After baking remove the coffee can immediately. Allow the cake to cool. Drizzle the cake with the sugar glaze. Sprinkle the cake with sprinkles, alternating colors. Cut the cake into individual pieces and serve. Yield: 12 servings





1 envelope dry yeast
1/4 cup warm water
1/2 cup milk
1 cup (2 sticks) butter
1/2 cup sugar
2 egg yolks
2 whole eggs
4 cups, approximately, unbleached flour

Mix the yeast with the warm water. Stir 1 teaspoon of the sugar and 1 teaspoon of the flour into the yeast and set aside. By the time you have measured the other ingredients, the yeast should be beginning to bubble and show signs of life.

Bring the milk to a boil and stir in the butter and the sugar. Pour into a large bowl; the mixture should be lukewarm. Beat in the egg yolks, whole eggs and the yeast. Beat in approx 2 cups of flour, until the dough is fairly smooth, then gradually add enough additional flour to make a soft dough that you can form into a ball. Knead it, by hand or machine, until smooth and elastic. Lightly oil a bowl, turn the dough once or twice in it to grease it lightly all over, cover with a cloth and leave to rise in a warm spot until doubled in size, about 1-1/2 to 2 hours.

Pat the dough down and cover the bowl with a damp towel, plastic film over that and refrigerate until the next day. This recipe makes enough dough for two king cakes. Extra dough may be frozen, or make two king cakes and freeze one. Thaw frozen cake and reheat 10 minutes in a 375-degree oven.

1/2 recipe king cake (above)
1 (16-ounce) can cherry, apple or apricot pie filling
8 ounces cream cheese
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons flour
2 egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 dried bean (to bake in the cake as per tradition)
Colored sugars or powdered sugar and food coloring

Remove dough from refrigerator and with well-floured hands, while it's firm and cold, shape it into a long sausage shape. Using a floured roller on a floured surface, roll out the dough into a 30-by-9-inch rectangle as thin as pie crust. Let dough rest. If necessary, drain extra juice from pie filling. Mix the cream cheese with the sugar, flour, egg yolks and vanilla. Spoon an inch-wide strip of fruit filling the length of the dough, about 3 inches from one edge. Spoon the cream cheese mixture alongside the fruit, about 3 inches from the other edge. Brush both sides of dough with egg wash. Insert the bean. Fold one edge of dough over the cream cheese and fruit, then fold the other edge over. 

Gently place one end of the filled roll onto a greased pizza pan or large cookie sheet. Ease the rest of the roll onto the pan, joining the ends to form a circle or oval. Cover and let rest for 30 minutes. Brush again with egg wash and cut deep vents into the cake. Sprinkle with colored sugars if desired. Bake 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until cake is well risen and golden. Cool before icing with powdered sugar mixed with enough water to make a spreadable paste and tinted purple, green and gold. Make one cake that serves 10 to 12 people. If using a plastic baby instead of the bean, insert it into the bottom of the cake after it is cooked.




KING CAKE 2  Back to Top

3-1/2 cups cake flour
1-1/2 cups sugar
1 cup water
2/3 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup nonfat dry milk
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon salt
8 egg whites
Light Lemon Glaze (recipe follows)
Colored sugar crystals and dragées
Small china or plastic baby doll*

Preheat oven to 375F. Grease and flour a 10-inch fancy tube pan. Sift flour before measuring and combine with sugar, water, oil, dry milk, baking powder, vanilla, and salt in a bowl. Mix until smooth.

Whip the egg whites until stiff. Fold whipped egg whites into the batter until evenly blended. Spoon batter into the prepared pan. Bake 40 to 50 minutes until cake bounces back when gently touched in the center. Turn out of pan onto cake rack; cool thoroughly. Drizzle with Light Lemon Glaze and decorate with purple and green sugar crystals and gold dragées.

Makes one 10-inch fancy tube cake, 20 slices.

Mix 1 cup sifted powdered sugar with 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice, 1/2 teaspoon grated lemon rind, a dash of salt, and 2 to 3 tablespoons hot water until mixture is smooth and can be drizzled onto the cake.

* NOTE: Oven-safe doll may be inserted in batter; otherwise insert doll in cake before inverting cake out of pan.




KING CAKE 3  Back to Top
Traditional New Orleans Recipe

1/2 cup warm water (110 to 115 degrees)
2 packages active dry yeast
1/2 cup plus 1 teaspoon sugar
3-1/2 to 4-1/2 cups flour unsifted
1 teaspoon nutmeg
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon lemon zest, this is lemon rind, grated
1/2 cup warm milk
5 egg yolks
1 stick butter cut into slices and softened, plus 2 tablespoons more softened butter
1 egg slightly beaten with 1 tablespoon milk
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 (1-inch) plastic baby doll

Pour the warm water into a small shallow bowl, and sprinkle yeast and 2 teaspoons sugar into it. Allow the yeast and sugar to rest for three minutes then mix thoroughly. Set bowl in a warm place for ten minutes, or until yeast bubbles up and mixture almost doubles in volume. Combine 3-1/2 cups of flour, remaining sugar, nutmeg and salt, and sift into a large mixing bowl. Stir in lemon zest. Separate center of mixture to form a hole and pour in yeast mixture and milk. Add egg yolks and, using a wooden spoon, slowly combine dry ingredients into the yeast/milk mixture. When mixture is smooth, beat in 8 tablespoons butter (1 tablespoon at a time) and continue to beat 2 minutes, or until dough can be formed into a medium-soft ball.

Place ball of dough on a lightly floured surface and knead like bread. While kneading, sprinkle up to 1 cup more of flour (1 tablespoon at a time) over the dough. When dough is no longer sticky, knead 10 minutes more until shiny and elastic.

Using a pastry brush, coat the inside of a large bowl evenly with one tablespoon softened butter. Place dough ball in the bowl and rotate until the entire surface is buttered. Cover bowl with a moderately thick kitchen towel and place in a draft-free spot for about 1-1/2 hours, or until the dough doubles in volume. Using a pastry brush, coat a large baking sheet with one tablespoon of butter and set aside.

Remove dough from bowl and place on lightly floured surface. Using your fist, punch dough down forcefully. Sprinkle cinnamon over the top, pat and shake dough into a cylinder. Twist dough to form a curled cylinder and loop cylinder onto the buttered baking sheet. Pinch the ends together to complete the circle. Cover dough with towel and set it in draft-free spot for 45 minutes, or until the circle of dough doubles in volume. Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.

Brush top and sides of cake with egg wash and bake on middle rack of oven for 25 to 35 minutes until golden brown. Place cake on wire rack to cool. If desired, you can hide the plastic baby in the cake at this time.

Colored sugars
Green, purple, & yellow paste
12 tablespoons sugar

Squeeze a dot of green paste in palm of hand. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons sugar over the paste and rub together quickly. Place this mixture on wax paper and wash hands to remove color. Repeat process for other 2 colors. Place aside.

3 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup lemon juice
3 - 6 tablespoons water

Combine sugar, lemon juice and 3 tablespoons water until smooth. If icing is too stiff, add more water until spreadable. Spread icing over top of cake. Immediately sprinkle the colored sugars in individual rows consisting of about 2 rows of green, purple and yellow.

Cake is served in 2 to 3-inch pieces.




The New Orleans Cookbook

Dough of your choice for one large coffee cake.
1 dried bean or tiny (3/4-inch) china baby doll
1 cup sugar
5 or more small bottles assorted food coloring
1 cup candied fruit pieces, 60% citron

After mixing the dough (adding the bean or doll now, if desired) and letting it rise, shape it into an oval ring, following the description given above for the approximate dimensions. Sprinkle the top of the cake evenly with sugar and make swirls with food coloring all over the top, with the swirl of one color slightly overlapping the next. Imbed the pieces of candied fruit in the top of the cake, concentrating most of them in a band about 1-1/4 inches wide all the way around. If you wish, make a rosette shape with a piece of fruit of one color surrounded by a circle made with alternating pieces of two other colors, to give the impression of a lavishly bejeweled crown. Set the cake on a baking sheet and bake according to instructions in the dough recipe you use. The finished cake should be lightly browned wherever the dough shows through; the parts covered with colored sugar should appear slightly crusty.




KINGS CAKE 4  Back to Top

Brioche Dough:
1/2 cup lukewarm water, 110 to 115 degrees
2 packages dry yeast
4-1/2 to 5-1/2 C sifted flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
1/2 cup lukewarm milk
3 eggs
4 egg yolks
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons butter, softened
1 egg, lightly beaten with 1 tablespoon milk
dime, dried bean, or miniature doll
green, purple, and yellow food coloring, pastes
3/4 cup granulated sugar (12 tablespoons)

3 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup lemon juice, strained
3 to 6 tablespoons water
2 candied cherries, halved

Soften yeast in water. Combine flour, sugar, nutmeg and salt in mixing bowl. Stir in lemon peel. Make a well in center and pour into it the yeast mixture and milk. Add eggs and egg yolks, and with a large wooden spoon gradually incorporate dry ingredients into liquid ones. Beat in butter and continue beating until dough forms ball. (Mixing of the dough can be done in a food processor.) Place ball on floured board and incorporate more flour if necessary, by sprinkling it over ball by the tablespoon. Knead until smooth and elastic. Brush inside of large bowl with 1 tablespoon softened butter. Set dough in bowl and turn it so as to butter entire surface. (At this point you can refrigerate dough overnight.) Cover bowl and set aside for 1-1/2 hours or until doubled in bulk. Brush a large baking sheet with remaining butter. Punch dough down on lightly floured surface. Knead, then pat and shape dough into a cylinder about 14 inches long. Place on baking sheet and form into a ring. Press bean or doll into dough so that it is hidden. Set aside again to rise. When ready to bake brush the top and sides of the ring with the egg-milk mixture. Bake King's Cake in middle of oven at 375 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes, or until golden brown. Slide cake onto wire rack to cool.
Prepare the colored sugars by squeezing a dab of green paste into the palm of one hand. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of sugar over the paste and rub your hands together to color the sugars evenly. Set aside and repeat process with green, then twice with purple and yellow. (Do not mix sugars.)

When the cake has cooled prepare the icing. Combine the powdered sugar, lemon juice and 3 tablespoons of water in a deep bowl and stir until the icing mixture is smooth. If too stiff to spread, beat in 1 teaspoonful water at a time, until desired consistency is reached. With a small metal spatula, spread the icing over the top of the cake, allowing it to run down the sides. Sprinkle the colored sugars over the icing immediately, forming a row of purple, yellow, and green strips, each about 2 inches wide, on both sides of the ring. Arrange 2 cherry halves at each end of the cake, pressing them gently into the icing.





1 cup milk
1/4 cup butter
2 (.25 ounce) packages active dry yeast
2/3 cup warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
1/2 cup white sugar
2 eggs
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
5-1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
2/3 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup melted butter

1 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon water

Scald milk, remove from heat and stir in 1/4 cup of butter. Allow mixture to cool to room temperature. In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in the warm water with 1 tablespoon of the white sugar. Let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes.

When yeast mixture is bubbling, add the cooled milk mixture. Whisk in the eggs. Stir in the remaining white sugar, salt and nutmeg. Beat the flour into the milk/egg mixture 1 cup at a time. When the dough has pulled together, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 8 to 10 minutes.

Lightly oil a large bowl, place the dough in the bowl and turn to coat with oil. Cover with a damp cloth or plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, about 2 hours. When risen, punch down and divide dough in half.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Grease 2 cookie sheets or line with parchment paper.

To Make Filling: Combine the brown sugar, ground cinnamon, chopped pecans, 1/2 cup flour and 1/2 cup raisins. Pour 1/2 cup melted butter over the cinnamon mixture and mix until crumbly.

Roll dough halves out into large rectangles (approximately 10 x 16 inches or so). Sprinkle the filling evenly over the dough and roll up each half tightly like a jelly roll, beginning at the wide side. Bring the ends of each roll together to form 2 oval shaped rings. Place each ring on a prepared cookie sheet. With scissors make cuts 1/3 of the way through the rings at 1 inch intervals. Let rise in a warm spot until doubled in size, about 45 minutes.

Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes. Push the doll into the bottom of the cake. Frost while warm with the powdered sugar blended with 1 to 2 tablespoons of water. Makes 2 cakes

NOTE: The King Cake is a New Orleans tradition that involves a pastry, a small plastic baby, and a party. The King Cake is baked with a small plastic baby hidden inside, the person who gets the slice with baby in it has to host the next party. Make sure to buy a new small plastic baby so you can get the full effect from this cake! Sprinkle with purple, green and gold sugar, or decorate with whole pecans and candied cherries.





1 package Yeast
1/4 cup Warm water
6 teaspoons Milk, scalded and cooled
4 cups Flour (to 5 cups)
1/2 pound Butter
3/4 cup Sugar
1/4 teaspoon Salt
4 Eggs
2 teaspoons Melted butter
Small plastic doll (or bean)
Light corn syrup for topping
Granulated sugar for topping - green, yellow, purple

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-inch greased cookie sheet, connecting ends of the rope with a few drops of water.

Press the doll (or bean) into the dough from underneath. Cover with a damp cloth and let rise until double in volume, about 1 hour. Bake at 325 degrees for 35 to 45 minutes or until lightly browned. Brush top of cake with corn syrup and sprinkle with alternating bands of colored sugar. Cake freezes well.





1/2 cup Water, (105-115 degrees)
2 packages active dry yeast
3-1/2 cups Flour (to 4-1/2 cups)
1/2 cup Sugar
1/2 teaspoon Nutmeg, freshly grated
2 teaspoons Salt
1 teaspoon Lemon rind, grated
1/2 cup Water, lukewarm
3 Eggs
4 Egg yolks
1/2 cup Butter, softened
1 Egg, lightly beaten with
1 teaspoon of milk
1 figurine or bean
3 cups Powdered sugar
1/4 cup Lemon juice, strained
3 teaspoons Water or more
Green, purple, and yellow sugars

Soften yeast in water. Combine flour, sugar, nutmeg, salt and lemon rind in a large bowl. Make a well in center. Add yeast mixture, milk, eggs, egg yolks and combine completely. Beat in butter until dough forms a ball. Place on floured board; incorporate more flour if necessary. Knead until smooth and elastic. Stir dough in well buttered bowl and turn so all surfaces are buttered. Cover with a towel and let rise 1-1/2 hours or until doubled in bulk. Brush baking sheet in butter. Punch down on lightly floured board. Knead, then pat into a 14-inch cylinder. Place on baking sheet and form into a large ring. Press trinket into dough so that it is hidden. Set aside, covered with a towel, to rise 1 to 1-1/2 hours. Before baking, brush top with the egg milk mixture. Bake in a preheated 375 degree oven for 25 to 30 minutes, or until golden brown. Cool on wire rack. Beat icing ingredients until smooth. Spread over top of cake, letting drip down sides.

Immediately sprinkle sugars over icing in 2-inch-wide strips of purple, green and yellow stripes. *Colored sugar is sold in baking supply houses. If you can't find it, tint granulated sugar or icing with food coloring.




Gateau du Roi

8 cups of the best white flour
6 eggs
1 cup sugar
1 pound of the best butter or shortening
1 pint of whole milk (2 cups)
1/2 ounce yeast {2 (1/4-ounce) packages, or about 4-1/2 teaspoons}
1/2 ounce salt (2 teaspoons)
Candies to decorate

To make the cake take 6 cups sifted flour, and put it in a wooden bread trough. Make a hole in the center of the flour, and put in a half-ounce of yeast, dissolved in a little warm water. Add about a pint of milk or tepid water to make the dough, using milk if you want it to be very rich and delicate, and water if you have not the milk. Remember that if you use milk to make the dough it must be scalded, that is, must be heated to the boiling point, and then allowed to grow tepid. Knead and mix the flour with one hand, while adding the milk or water with the other. Add six eggs, beaten very light with the sugar and butter, or shortening, and mix all well together, kneading lightly with your hands, and adding more eggs if the dough is a little stiff. Let the dough rise for five or six hours [or until doubled in bulk], and, when increased to twice its bulk, take it and add the reserved half-pound of flour, into which you will have sifted the salt.

Then knead the dough by turning it over on itself three times and set to rise again for an hour or three-quarters of an hour. Cover with a cloth. At the end of this time take it up and work again lightly, and then form into a great ring, leaving, of course, a hole in the center.

This amount of dough may be divided and baked in two or more King's Cakes. Pat gently and flatten a little. Have ready a baking pan with a buttered sheet of paper in it, and set the central roll in the middle. Cover the pan with a clean, stiff cloth, and set the cake to rise for an hour longer. When well risen, set in an oven a few degrees cooler than that used for baking bread; let bake for an hour and a half; if medium, one hour, and if very small, a half hour. Glace the Brioche lightly with a beaten egg, spread lightly over the top before placing in the oven.

Decorate with dragées, caramels, or any small colored cake-decorating candies.








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