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Monday, February 15, 2010

King Cake for Mardi Gras

I'm not much into Mardi Gras, mostly because I don't know a lot about it. Also because I live in Virginia, and it's just far enough away from New Orleans that we don't hear any of the noise from the all-night street parties. The only thing I know about Mardi Gras is that the celebration includes a pastry known as King Cake. Here's a tidbit from Wikipedia for you:
A king cake is a type of cake associated with the festival of Epiphany in the Christmas season in a number of countries, and in other places with Mardi Gras and Carnival. In the United States, which celebrates Carnival ranging from Pensacola, Florida to East Texas, centered on New Orleans it is associated instead with Mardi Gras season traditions. The cakes have a small trinket (often a small plastic baby, sometimes said to represent Baby Jesus) inside, and the person who gets the piece of cake with the trinket has various privileges and obligations (such as buying [or making] the cake for the next celebration).
A cake with a plastic baby inside!! How could you not be into that?? I omitted the baby because I know it's gonna always be me making the king cake, and that's okay by me! ;D

Another successful checkmark on my Top 100 list! If you've never had King Cake before, it tastes very similar to a cinnamon roll. It's chewy and sweet and sugary and delicious! It's a tiny bit time consuming and requires some effort, but I would absolutely make this again next Mardi Gras!
Making the dough, proofing, and rolling it out...

I used two types of cinnamon in my filling!

Braids... proofed, baked, and iced!

Ain't she a beauty!?

My first taste of King Cake! Happy Mardi Gras! ;)

King Cake (from "Recipe Hall of Fame Dessert Cookbook")
Makes 2 large pastries

1 stick plus 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2/3 cup fat-free evaporated milk (I used regular evap. milk)
1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons salt
2 packages active dry yeast
1/3 cup warm water
4 eggs
1 tablespoon grated lemon rind (I used only 1 teaspoon)
2 tablespoons grated orange rind (I used only 1 tablespoon)
5 cups plus 1 cup all-purpose flour

In a saucepan, melt 1 stick butter, milk, 1/3 cup sugar, and salt. Cool to lukewarm. In a large mixing bowl, combine 2 tablespoons sugar, yeast, and water. Let stand until foaming, about 5-10 minutes. Beat eggs into yeast; then add milk mixture and rinds. Stir in flour, 1/2 cup at a time, reserving 1 cup of flour for kneading surface. Knead dough until smooth, about 5-10 minutes. (I put mine in a stand mixer with the dough hook on medium-low speed for about 6 minutes.) Place in large mixing bowl greased with 1 tablespoon butter, turning dough once to grease top; cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 1/2 - 2 hours.

1 stick butter, melted
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup dark brown sugar, packed
1 tablespoon cinnamon

Mix sugars and cinnamon; set aside.
When dough has doubled, punch down and divide in half. On a floured surface, roll half into a rectangle 30 x 15. (I couldn't get mine quite this big, but I got within a few inches.) Brush with half of the melted butter and cut into 3 lengthwise strips. Sprinkle half of the sugar mixture on strips, leaving a 1-inch lengthwise strip free for sealing. Fold each strip lengthwise toward the center, sealing the seam. You will now have three 30-inch strips with sugar mixture enclosed in each. Braid the 3 strips and make a circle by joining ends. (It's a bit tricky to braid the ends together, but just start tucking and eventually you'll get it.) Repeat with other half of dough. Place each cake on a 10 x 15-inch baking sheet, cover with a damp cloth, and let rise until doubled, about 1 hour. (I covered mine with plastic wrap sprayed with nonstick spray.)

1 cup sugar, colored (1/3 cup each of yellow, purple, and green)
1 egg, beaten
2 (3/4-inch) plastic babies or 2 beans (I was going to use an almond, but I forgot them!)

Tint sugar by mixing food coloring until desired color is reached. For purple, use equal amounts of blue and red. A food processor aids in mixing, and keeps the sugar from being too moist.

Brush each cake with beaten egg and sprinkle with colored sugars, alternating colors. (I used the egg wash, but I did not sprinkle my cakes with sugar before baking. Instead I mixed 2 cups confectioners' sugar with a bit of orange juice until I got a thick glaze. Warm that in the microwave until it is pourable and slightly warm, about 15-20 seconds. Slowly pour the glaze over the cooled cakes. Let it set for about 1 minute, then sprinkle with colored sugars.) Preheat oven to 350°. Bake 20 minutes. Remove from pan immediately so sugar will not harden; while still warm, place 1 plastic baby in each from underneath. Makes two 9x 12-inch cakes. Freezes well.

To freeze: Wrap cooled cake tightly in plastic. Before serving, remove plastic and thaw.

Recipe was sent in from Jambalaya (Louisiana)


Natalie... said...

Mmm it sounds like a big cinnamon roll! So good!

Dawn C said...

Gorgeous! Is there a reason for using the plastic wrap sprayed with non-stick spray vs. the damp cloth? Just curious...

How To Eat A Cupcake said...

Well all of our kitchen towels are washed with fabric softener, and they smell like Downy! Lol ;D

June Freaking Cleaver said...

I've always wondered why the baby doesn't sink down to the pan and end up melting? Molten plastic is not what I want in my cinnamon roll!

It looks yummy!

Pen Pen said...

WOW! My family is from New Orleans, and...WOW! VERY nice!!!! I love all of ur recipes on here-I'm gonna have to try one this weekend. Not sure what yet, but I'd love to try one of ur recipes...hmmm.... :)

Maria said...

The cake looks awesome!

Treehouse Chef said...

That is one festive looking cake. One of these days I want to make one. I went to Mardi Gras in college not knowing anything about it and let me tell you it was WILD! Once is enough!

natalie said...

I live just a few hours from New Orleans and 30 minutes from Mobile, AL (where mardi gras is also very big) and you can just about buy a king cake at a gas station around this time. we also use all types of filling, too, the favorite being cream cheese. my mom just made a king cake and it's better than the one's from Gambino's. maybe I'll give this recipe a try and see if it's just as good!

Moy said...

You did a great job. It is so professional looking. I'm from the Gulf Coast orgionally and Mardi Gras is one big event in the south. You can find the King Cake available in every kind of store...So glad u tried a Southern tradition.

sweetjeanette said...

Looks fantabulous!!! I was attending a conference in New Orleans with a group of ladies and we had king cake (my first!) I got the baby!!! Don't let 'em tell ya any different, it's BAD luck to get that sucker!! That same day, I fell out of a van, cracked my skull and spent into the wee hours of the morning in the Emergency Room! ROFL!!! but what memories!

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Lucie said...

Looks good!! In the south of France they make a similar cake with candied fruit for Epiphany, and on Mardi Gras we traditionally eat "beignets" but out in a zigzag pattern. But I'd rather have your king cake!

Lazy Cook said...

Looks soooo good! yummmmmmm (I especially love the sprinkles!)

IQphantom said...


Outstanding presentation...I bet it was completely amazing.

Well done...can't wait to try it..


sarah @ syrupandhoney said...

beautifully done!

Liesl said...

Cheers to you for making a King Cake! I have actually never tried one and always wanted to...too bad you couldn't just give me a piece of yours, it looks delicious!

Paris Pastry said...

Hmmmmmm, yum! That looks like a cinnamon bun meets brioche cake! Me likes!

Larie said...

That is so festive :) I'd love to try one, but all that yeast and rising and braiding has me intimidated. I haven't even made regular cinnamon rolls yet! But your cake looks delicious.

Mo Diva said...

three things:

- Its absolutely gorgeous

- wheres the baby?

- Who got the baby?

Laura Loo said...

Oooh you braid it?! That's so cool looking! I want to try this. Plastic baby a bit creepy though haha. I'd put something like a strand of mardi gras beads or a ring! hehehe.

I made a Red Velvet Cake w/ cream cheese frosting for Vday. It was low-fat = not that spectacular. But if you want to see the pictures you can look at my blog!

Gala said...

I didn't know it was similar to a cinnamon roll!
Love the step pictures btw.

Athena said...

Hey! Awesome job, the pictures are great :)

Liesl said...

So I think you inspired me to make a King Cake...thanks, and thanks a lot!!! HAHAHA Here's hoping it turns out half as good as yours!

Indulge Your Fancy said...

This does look good. These are good with homemade applebutter in place of the cinnamon or apple pie filling chopped up in small pieces. Ohhh, it's makin me hungry!

Lo said...

Between the colored sugars and that baby... King cake is always intriguing. And festive. And I REALLY love the blue thumbnail next to that colored cake. Perfect! :)

Mama Bird said...

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Sarah said...

I'm not a big fan of king cake but yours looks gorgeous!

Holly @ Unintended Byproducts of Domestic Bliss said...

I had my first King Cake this year and I got the baby! I'll be making this at the gathering that I'll be hosting in honor of fishing out the little plastic tot from the back of my throat :-)

Xiaolu @ 6 Bittersweets said...

I've never tried this before, but it look so wonderfully festive! I think I'd really go gaga over a cream cheese filling, though.

Allie said...

Looks great!!

the25thyear said...

I'll try this next year... the one I made this year was icky!

Avanika [YumsiliciousBakes] said...

Ooh! Although I've heard a lot about this cake, I always thought it was a bundt. Had absolutely no idea it was bread! LOL!

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