Five years ago I attempted a King Cake. It turned out okay, but over all it was less than brilliant. I don’t remember if I used the recipe I linked to (from King Arthur Flour), but I do remember lots of leftover king cake that no one wanted to eat.
I’ve thought about King Cake several times since then, mostly remembering the failed attempt from February 2008. I asked my mother if she’d ever made one she replied no, but you can mail-order them from a popular New Orleans Bakery.
I didn’t want to order one from a New Orleans Bakery, so I set about finding a better recipe. Thankfully Gavin has a friend in Louisiana and his wife enjoys cooking and baking about as much as I do. I got in touch with her and she sent me her King Cake Recipe!
I had all the ingredients on hand so on Thursday morning after we dropped O off at preschool P and I got to work kneading dough.
I didn’t have the requisite green/purple/gold sugar (and I didn’t want to deal with making it myself with food coloring), so I used rainbow sugar crystals.
The recipe is one I’m going to keep and use again. I’m probably going to halve the frosting and change up the fillings and make it year-round as a special breakfast. It is fantastically airy, moist, and chewy – a vast improvement over my attempt five years ago!
King Cake from Mama Sarah’s Kitchen
2 envelopes active dry yeast
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 sticks butter, melted
2/3 cup warm milk (110-115F)
1/3 cup warm water (110-115F)
5 egg yolks, at room temp
4 1/2 cups flour
2 tsp salt
1 tsp nutmeg
4 tbsp butter, melted
2/3 cup light brown sugar
2 tbsp cinnamon
3 cups powdered sugar
5 tbsp milk
3 tbsp lemon juice
purple, green, and gold sprinkles
(Please note, I used my kitchenaid mixer for this recipe.)
- Attach the dough hook to the mixer. Combine the yeast and sugar in the bowl, then add the melted butter, milk, and water. Mix on low for 1 minute. Beat in the egg yolks, mixing on medium for 1 minute.
- In a separate bowl,, wisk together flour, salt, and nutmeg. Add to the wet ingredients and mix until a dough ball forms and the begins to move up the hook. (I’m always intrigued by this motion.)
- Lightly grease a bowl with vegetable oil.
- Remove the dough from the mixer and form it into a smooth ball. Place in greased bowl, turning it so that all sides are coated. Cover with clingwrap and let sit in a warm, dark place until doubled (approximately 2 hours).
- Meanwhile, combine the filling ingredients. Set aside.
- Turn dough onto lightly floured surface. Roll out to a rectangle about 24×10 inches. (These are very rough approximations). Separate dough into the thirds, lengthwise.
- Spread a thin layer of the filling mixture down the length of each third, leaving a 1/2 inch margin clear. Roll the dough lengthwise (as if making pinwheels or cinnamon rolls). Since the dough is so long, this is a bit difficult, but I have faith in you. Pinch the edges to seal.
- Time to braid the dough. Start in the middle and braid one side as you would normally braid anything. Loosely tuck the ends together. Go back to the middle. This time, braid underneath so that it looks like one continuous braid.
- Now that you’ve got that nice braid, bring the two ends together to form a ring. To get a continuous appearance, figure out which ends would logically be connected if it were one connected piece and join them together. You can do this by either pinching them together or placing one end under the other and smoothing it out.
- Being very careful, place the ring on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Cover with a towel and let sit in a dark, warm place until doubled, about 45 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 350F.
- Brush the top of the ring with 2 tbsp milk. Bake for 25-30 minutes. (I believe mine took about 25).
- Place on a cooling rack and cool completely.
- For the icing, wisk the milk into the powdered sugar. Mix in lemon juice. Spread/pour over cool cake. Sprinkle in alternating blocks of purple green and gold.