New Orleans Mardi Gras King Cake

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Happy Mardi Gras!  the people of New Orleans have been celebrating for many weeks now, and today is the last day of celebration.  if you have not had your King Cake yet this year, today is the last day for indulgence.  the history and tradition of the season has been established for centuries.

the king cake is typically an oval cake, more like a yeast bread, that is decorated in the purple, green and gold sugars or icing. the recipe for king cake varies depending on the bakery and chef.  some have nut and sweet fillings, others have cinnamon and cream cheese, and others are more like breakfast breads.  i chose a breakfast bread recipe. i would not say any of the recipes resemble “cake”.

this was my first attempt at making a king cake, and i would say this recipe worked nicely.  the resting and rising takes a good part of the day, so this is not a quick recipe.  it does take time, but that is part of the celebration. i found my recipe in the Louisiana Cookin’ magazine, January-February 2014 issue.

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to make a traditional king cake:  this recipe will make 14 servings.  gather the following ingredients.

3/4 cup warm milk, 1 package instant yeast, 3/4 cup softened butter, 3 large eggs, 1 large egg yolk, 1 tbsp. maple syrup, 4 cups all-purpose flour, 1 1/4 teaspoons salt, 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 2 cups confectioners’ sugar, 3 tablespoons half and half, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla, 1/2 teaspoon almond extract, colored sugars

combine milk and yeast in a small bowl and allow to proof, at least 10 minutes.  in a stand mixer with a dough hook attachment, add the following:  milk mixture, butter, eggs, egg yolk, and maple syrup.  mix on low speed until combined.  next, add flour, salt and cinnamon.  mix on medium speed until an elastic dough forms, at least 10 minutes.

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prepare a large bowl with cooking spray.  place dough in bowl, cover with plastic and allow to rise until doubled, at least 2 hours.

on a floured surface, form into a log and then an oval.  prepare a non-stick baking sheet with cooking spray.  place onto baking sheet.  cover with plastic and allow to rise again for at least one hour.

preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  bake for 10 minutes, then decrease the oven temperature to 350 degrees and bake for 25 to 30 more minutes. make the icing.  whisk together the confectioners; sugar, half and half and extracts.  drizzle with icing and decorate with sugars.

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