I have been intrigued by the idea of a King Cake ever since my father sent a photo of one from his travels in the southern United States. So this year, I decided to try my hand at making one.
A King Cake is a traditional ring of cinnamon roll bread topped with purple, green, and gold icing or sugar (the traditional colours of Mardi Gras). The origin of the King Cake is religious in nature - it is named after the three kings of biblical lore who visited the Christ child. It is traditionally served between Twelfth Night and Mardi Gras, or Fat Tuesday, the day before the beginning of Lent. The tradition was brought to the southern United States by colonists from France and Spain, and is served as part of Mardi Gras celebrations. It traditionally has a small plastic baby hidden inside (to represent the baby Jesus).
This was my first effort baking with yeast - so I was a little apprehensive, to say the least. I didn't think it would turn out, actually, as the recipe calls for the dough to double in size, and mine certainly did not do that. However, all is well that ends well, and it baked up beautifully!
1/2 cup milk
2 tbsp butter
1 package active dry yeast
1/3 cup warm water
1/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp nutmeg
2 3/4 cups sifted all purpose flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup melted butter
1/2 cup icing sugar
1 1/2 tsp water
Purple, Yellow, and Green coloured sugar crystals
1. Bring milk to a boil and add the 1/4 cup butter. Remove from heat and let cool.
2. In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in the warm water. Stir in 1 tbsp of the sugar to avoid frothing. Let stand for about 10 minutes.
3. Add the cooled milk and butter mixture to the yeast. Whisk in the egg. Add in the rest of the sugar, the salt and nutmeg. Add the flour one cup at a time until dough starts to pull together.
4. Knead the dough for about 8-10 minutes on a lightly floured surface.
5. Add about a 1/2 tsp of oil to a large bowl. Roll the dough in the oil until coated. Cover bowl with a damp cloth or plastic wrap, and let it rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, about 2 hours.
6. While waiting, make the filling. Combine brown sugar, cinnamon, and flour. Add the melted butter and mix loosely until crumbly.
7. When the dough is ready, roll it out on a lightly floured surface into a large rectangle. Sprinkle the filling over the dough and starting from one long end, roll it up tightly. Place on a greased cookie sheet and wind around a glass mason jar to keep the shape, pushing the two ends together. Let rise for an additional 45 minutes.
8. Bake in a preheated 375 degree oven for 25-30 minutes. Allow to cool completely before frosting.
9. Have fun decorating it with coloured sugar crystals!