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Celebrations

King cake

February 18, 2009

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Makes 1 large ring

Purple, green, and yellow pastes or gels are available at www.sugarcraft.com.

DOUGH

Butter (for the bowl)
1/4 cup lukewarm water
1 envelope active dry yeast
1/4 cup lukewarm milk
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 to 3 1/2 cups flour
2 eggs
Extra flour (for sprinkling)
1. Butter a large bowl.

2. In another large warm bowl, pour the water and sprinkle the yeast on top. Stir until it dissolves. Stir in the milk, butter, granulated sugar, nutmeg, and salt. (The butter will not blend in completely.)

3. Add 1 cup of the flour and blend well. Stir in the eggs and enough of the remaining 2 1/2 cups flour to make a soft dough.

4. Lightly flour a work surface. Turn the dough out and knead it for 5 minutes or until it is smooth and elastic, adding more flour if the dough sticks.

5. Transfer to the buttered bowl and turn the dough so it is buttered all over. Cover with a clean kitchen towel and let rise in a warm, draft-free place for 1 hour or until doubled in bulk.

FILLING

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2/3 cup packed light brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 red bean, pecan half, or small plastic baby figurine
1. Have on hand a large rimmed baking sheet. Butter the sheet.

Punch down the dough. Lightly flour the work surface and with a rolling pin, roll the dough to a 30-by-9-inch rectangle. Brush with melted butter.

2. In a small bowl, combine the brown sugar and cinnamon. Sprinkle the brown sugar mixture over the dough to within 1/2 inch of the edge. Beginning at the long end, roll it up tightly, as for a jelly roll. Pinch the long seam to seal the roll. Form the roll into a ring and join the ends, pinching them together; keep the cut sides up. Transfer the ring to the baking sheet.

3. If using a red bean or pecan half, push it into the underside of the dough to hide it. (A baby charm will go in after baking.) Cover and let rise in a warm, draft-free place for 20 to 40 minutes or until doubled in bulk.

FROSTING

1 cup confectioner's sugar, sifted
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1-2 tablespoons milk
Purple, green, and yellow paste food coloring
1. Set the oven at 350 degrees.

2. Bake the ring for 30 minutes, or until firm and lightly browned. Remove the cake from the baking sheet and transfer to a wire rack to cool. (If using a plastic baby figurine, push it into the underside of the cake.)

3. In a small bowl, combine the sugar, almond extract, and 1 tablespoon of the milk. Stir until smooth, adding more of the remaining 1 tablespoon milk to make a smooth, pourable frosting.

4. Divide the frosting among 3 small bowls. Tint 1 mixture purple, 1 green, and 1 yellow, stirring each well. Drizzle each color over the top of the cake in 3 separate places.

Adapted from "Cooking Up a Storm, Recipes Lost and Found From The Times-Picayune of New Orleans"