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King Cakes for Fat Tuesday

February 21, 2012

Happy Mardi Gras!

For us here in Steamboat, Presidents’ Weekend and the following week is one of our busiest times. And it is Blues Week, which means many of the local kids get school off for the entire week. AND we got 27″ of snow in the last 24 hours!

Needless to say, the mountain was packed this morning, and the lines were really really really long to get up the gondola. Unfortunately (or fortunately, maybe) for me, I did not have any line waiting to do.

Today, being the first official day of Blues Week, was also the first day of a busy work week for me. AND it was Mustache Monday…

It was also the day I brought three King Cakes to work to kick off the celebrations!

King Cakes are a Mardi Gras must as far as I am concerned, and every year I say I am going to try to make my own. And I never do. Until now. And of course, I pick the time I live at 7,000 feet to attempt this baking feat. The good news, I didn’t do any high altitude conversions and everything turned out just fine. The other good news is I think my recipe was extremely easy to do, AND it was scrumptious. I can say this because there isn’t any left…

I will also mention that I ripped this recipe straight from Allrecipes.com. Except the filling…because I decided I wanted a cream cheese filling, SO I kind of made that part up…

Mardi Gras Kings Cake:

1 cup milk

1/4 cup butter

2/3 cup warm water

2.5 tsp yeast

1/2 cup sugar

2 eggs, beaten

1 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp all spice

5 1/2 cups flour

Filling:

1 12oz package cream cheese

1/3 cup sugar

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp vanilla extract

Glaze:

2-3 Cups Powdered Sugar

2-3 Tbsp of water

Food coloring

Sprinkles

Directions:

Heat milk over medium heat, add butter and remove from heat. In a large bowl, combine water and yeast and 1 Tbsp of the sugar. Let sit for 10 or so min until creamy. Add milk mixture, the rest of the sugar, spices and the eggs. Whisk quickly for 10-20 seconds. Add flour 1 cup at a time and mix until the dough is not sticky. You might need a little more flour, add it 1 Tbsp at a time. Turn dough out on lightly floured surface and kneed for 5-8 min. Roll into a ball and let rise for 2 hours, or until doubled, in a greased bowl (my only altitude adjustment was only letting it rise for 45min). While it rises, make the filling by mixing all the filling ingredients until smooth.

When dough is doubled, punch it down, divide it into two balls and roll each on out in a 12×24″ rectangle. Spread filling in a thin layer over the entire rectangle. Roll them up longways jelly roll style (so that to roll is 24 long”). Stretch out the roll if you can and shape into a circle, connecting the ends. (The longer the roll is the bigger your circle can be). Place them a few inches apart on a greased cookie sheet and let rise for 30min or so.

Preheat oven to 375. Bake cakes for 20-25 min or until they sound hollow when you tap them. Remove from oven, let cool.

**Now is when you add the baby-slice a small hole in the bottom of the cake and push baby (or penny, dried bean or pecan half) into the cake. I used tiny parachute men, because I could not find the traditional tiny plastic babies anywhere..

And frost- mix 1 cup powdered sugar with 1.5 Tbsp water, add food coloring if you’d like and drizzle over cake. I used 3 colors of food coloring and also plain white glaze. If the mixture is too thin, add more sugar. Sprinkle with clear or colored sprinkles.

Voila!

It definitely sounds kind of involved, but it isn’t hard at all! Just remember, it is a yeasted bread, so its going to need a little kneading and some rest time. I made two batches (4 cakes total, as I saved one for my Mardi Gras/Taco Tuesday Fete) and it took me about 3 hours to get them all baked and ready…not bad. Considering I spent a good 2 hours of that waiting on things to rise and watching the last two episodes of The Wire, Season 1.

I waited until this morning (with fingers crossed) to try the cake. AND I thought my slice was scrumptious! A nice mix of gooey sweet cream cheese filling and layered flaky cake…plus the glaze was a nice, extra sweet topping. Seriously. Yum.

Great success! Making these is definitely going to be a yearly tradition for me! If you’re on the fence about making your own, definitely go for it with this recipe. I feel like its a fool proof first-time success. :]

Enjoy!

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