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    Mardi Gras: King Cake

    Source of Recipe

    Cheri Sicard

    Recipe Introduction

    King Cakes are a huge part of Mardi-Gras traditions throughout the south from Western Louisiana through Eastern Alabama. The cake's origins date back to the Feast of the Epiphany or Twelfth Night, which honors the three kings present at the Christ child's birth. Which is, I assume, where the custom of hiding a tiny baby doll in the cake, started.
    In today's Mardi-Gras celebration, tradition calls for the person who gets the "lucky" piece of cake with the baby doll inside, to throw the next party -- or on a simpler note, buy or make the next King Cake. You can pick up the tiny plastic dolls at any cake decorating or novelty supply, just be sure to warn your guests of what to expect as you don't want anyone choking!

    The cake, which more closely resembles a rich, sweet bread than cake, is decorated in the traditional Mardi-Gras colors: green, representing faith, gold symbolizing power, and purple denoting justice. Over the years, some folks, myself included, have played with the traditional version to include various fillings. But here's the original, in all its glory, just as it was taught to me as a teenager in Mississippi.

    Recipe Link:

    List of Ingredients

    1/2 C warm water (100-115 F)
    2 T yeast
    1/2 C sugar, plus 2 tsp.
    3 1/2 - 4 C flour
    1 tsp. nutmeg
    2 tsp. salt
    1 tsp. lemon zest
    1/2 C warm milk
    5 egg yolks
    1/2 C butter
    2 tsp. cinnamon

    1 egg beaten with 1 T milk, for egg wash

    3 C confectioner's sugar
    1/4 C lemon juice
    3-6 T water

    Additional sugar & food coloring for decoration (follow link for tinted sugar directions)

    1 tiny 1" baby doll (see notes above)


    Sprinkle yeast and 2 teaspoons sugar over warm water in a small, shallow bowl. Allow to rest for 3-5 minutes, then mix thoroughly. Set bowl in a warm, draft-free place until yeast starts to bubble up and mixture almost doubles in volume, about 10 minutes.

    In a large mixing bowl, mix 3 1/2 C flour, 1/2 cup sugar, nutmeg, lemon zest and salt. In mixing bowl of a heavy duty electric mixer or food processor, combine yeast , milk and egg yolks. Gradually add dry ingredients, and softened butter, adding additional flour, as necessary to achieve a medium-soft ball. Knead dough, again adding flour if necessary, until smooth, shiny and elastic, about 10 minutes.

    Place dough in a covered, buttered bowl , in a warm, draft-free place until doubled, about 1 1/2 hours.

    In the meantime, butter a large baking sheet and set aside.

    When dough has risen, remove and punch down. Sprinkle with cinnamon and form into a cylinder, then twist this cylinder into a circle. Pinch the ends together to complete the circle. Once again, cover and let rise until doubled, about 45 minutes.

    Pre-heat oven to 375 F.

    Brush top and sides of cake with egg wash and bake for 25-35 minutes, or until golden brown. Cool on wire rack completely before hiding baby doll inside or icing and decorating.

    Mix sugar, lemon juice and 3 tablespoons of water until mixture is smooth, adding more water as necessary to achieve a smooth, spreadable consistency. Spread icing over cake and immediately sprinkle colored sugar in alternating color rows.

    Bread Machine Version:

    I have made the dough with great success in a Bread Machine. The only difference is, I substitute milk for the water, making the liquid total 1 cup milk.

    Just put the ingredients in the machine, as per manufacturer instructions, set it to the dough setting, and in a few hours you're ready to pick up the instructions from the rolling out point.




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