Citizens, we are coming up on that Bacchanalic festival that is Mardi Gras, and where there is Mardi Gras there MUST be King Cake!
Also known as King’s Day, Mardi Gras marks the start of merrymaking that continues until the grand finale on Fat Tuesday, the day before Ash Wednesday.
Similar to coffee cake, this ring-shaped dessert celebrating Mardi Gras is as rich in tradition and history as it is in color and taste. Trademark decorations – sugars in the royal colors of purple (justice), green (faith), and gold (power) – honor the three kings who visited the Christ child on Epiphany, the 12th day after Christmas.
A bean or plastic baby figurine is traditionally embedded in the cake – whoever gets it in their slice is king or queen of the evening, and may do as they please or order others as they see fit. However, they are also responsible for throwing the next year’s Mardi Gras party!
Most King Cakes tend toward dryness, but my version of King Cake includes a delicious cream cheese filling tinted a royal shade of purple by my use of blueberry peach butter. I color the icing with the same ingredient. I also replace the cinnamon flavor with cardamom, which I prefer. For a more traditional flavor, go back to cinnamon.
Enjoy your Mardi Gras, my citizens!
Battle on – The Generalissimo
For the Cake
1/3 cup milk
1 package active dry yeast
2 1/2 cups bread flour, plus more for dusting
2 large egg yolks, plus 2 eggs
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, melted and cooled, plus more for greasing the bowl
For the Filling
1 package (8oz) cream cheese
3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/4 cup Stonewall Kitchen Blueberry Peach butter – get it here
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/4 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup toasted pecans, chopped
For the Glaze
1/2 cup confectioners sugar
1 tablespoon blueberry peach butter
1 tablespoon milk
green, purple, and yellow sugar
Small plastic baby or large dried bean
1. Heat the milk in a saucepan until scalding; transfer to a food processor, add the yeast and pulse to combine.
2. Add 1/2 cup flour and the egg yolks; process to combine. Pour the remaining 2 cups flour evenly over the yeast mixture; do not process. Put the lid on; set aside for 90 minutes.
3. Add the 2 whole eggs, granulated sugar, lemon zest, salt and nutmeg to the food processor; process to make a slightly textured dough, about 1 minute.
4. With the machine running, slowly add the butter to make a smooth, sticky dough. Transfer the dough to a lightly buttered bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap; let rise in a warm place for 2 hours.
5. Turn the dough out onto a clean surface and knead about 8 minutes; form into a ball and return to the bowl. Cover with a moist tea towel in a warm place to rise for another hour. Meanwhile make the filling.
1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment or in a medium bowl using a hand mixer beat cream cheese and brown sugar until smooth then scrape down the bowl.
2. Add blueberry peach butter, vanilla, cardamom, and salt and beat until incorporated. Then stir in pecans.
To Assemble the cake:
1. On a floured surface, roll the dough into a 20-by-7-inch rectangle, with the long edge facing you. Spoon the filling in an even layer over the dough, leaving a 1-inch border along the top and bottom.
2. Fold the bottom and then the top edge over the filling to make a tight roll; pinch to seal.
3. Transfer the roll seam-side down to a parchment-lined baking sheet; tuck one end into the other to form a ring. Cover loosely with a tea towel and set aside in a warm place until the roll doubles in size, about 2 hours. (I placed a coffee can in the middle of the cake so it would not lose its shape)
4. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Bake the cake until firm and golden brown, about 30 minutes. When cake comes out carefully press the plastic baby into the underside of the cake. Cool on a rack.
1. Whisk together all ingredients and drizzle over cooled cake, then sprinkle green, purple, and yellow sugar over glaze.