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This is a Creole cake whose history is the history of the famous New Orleans carnivals celebrated in song and stories. The “King’s Cake,” or Gateau de Roi, is inseparably connected with the origin of the world-famed carnival balls. In fact, the King Cake owes its origin to the old Creole custom of choosing a king and queen on King’s Day, or Twelfth Night.
1. Dissolve 2 teaspoons sugar in ½ cup warm water in a small bowl.
2. Add 2 envelopes Fleischmann’s RapidRise™ yeast.
3. Mix well and let stand in a warm place 10 minutes until yeast resembles creamy foam.
4. Meanwhile scald milk by heating it in a heatproof glass container in a microwave oven until milk is just hot with steam and small bubbles appear around the edges; do not boil.
5. To the bowl of milk add 1/2 cup of sugar, butter and salt in the mixing bowl and cool to lukewarm.
6. Stir in 2 cups of the flour and beat well.
7. Add the yeast mixture and the slightly beaten egg yolks one egg at a time to the milk mixture.
8. Stir in the grated lemon peel, anise extract and nutmeg.
9. Gradually add the remaining flour one cup at a time.
10. Using a dough hook of your mixer beat for 10 minutes on low speed.
11. Once all the dry ingredients are in come up to speed #2 for 5 minutes or until the dough begins to pull away from the sides of the bowl.
Note: If you do not have a mixer with a dough hook, simply knead the dough on a floured surface until it is smooth and elastic, about 15 minutes.
12. Turn out your dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 8 to 10 minutes, until the dough is smooth and elastic, adding additional flour as necessary to prevent stickiness.
13. Place in a well-greased bowl and turn it to oil all sides.
14. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, set in a warm (85°), draft-free place, and let rise until doubled in size, about 1½ hour.
Note: A closed unlit gas oven is an excellent draft-free place for your dough to rise. The heat from the pilot provides adequate warmth for proper rising. With an electric oven, turn to 150° for about 3 minutes, then turn off the heat and open the door for 3 minutes. Place the bowl of dough in the oven and quickly close the door. This will give you an approximate temperature of 85°, just right for even and fairly quick rising.
15. Punch dough down and turn out onto a lightly floured surface.
16. Poke hole in dough and shape dough into a circle.
17. Pull the dough into the shape to fit your circular baking pan.
18. Spray the pan with non-stick flour spray and place the dough in the pan.
19. Press the plastic baby toy or Fava Bean into the ring from the bottom so that it is completely hidden by the dough.
Note: If you do not have a circular baking pan:
A. Shape dough into a cylinder 30 inches long and 6 inches in diameter. Place dough roll on a lightly greased baking sheet.
B. Bring ends together to form an oval ring, moistening and pinching edges together to seal.
C. Place a well-greased 2-pound coffee can in the center of the ring to maintain the shape during baking.
D. After baking remove the coffee can immediately.
20. Cover the ring with a towel and place in a warm, draft free place. Let the dough rise for about 45 minutes or until the dough doubles in size.
21. Preheat the oven 350° F.
22. Bake at 350° for 30 minutes or until internal temperature is 190°.
Note: To prevent the cake from getting too brown on top tent the top with foil when it is just golden brown.
23. Remove the cake from the circular pan.
24. Allow the cake to cool on rack.
25. Make the icing.
26. Combine the 1 teaspoon almond extract, the water and 2 cups sifted powdered sugar in a medium mixing bowl.
27. Stir to blend well.
28. With a rubber spatula, spread the icing evenly over the top of the cake (or drizzle, as desired.)
29. Immediately sprinkle the colored sugars in 2- to- 3 inch alternating rows of purple, green and gold.
30. Cut and serve.
Note: The cake is traditionally cut into 2-inch-thick slices and served to all guests in attendance. The person whose piece contains the hidden plastic baby is crowned “king for a day” and is considered responsible for holding the next King Cake party.
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lulingtea on 3.10.2011
Frank the king cake looks great! My favorite all time King cake is from MacKenzie’s Bakery. The butter milk drops are great!
Thanks for the post. Few people know the facts behind our King cake.
Frank on 2.16.2010
Happy Mardi Gras! Que la fete commence ! Laissez les bons temps rouler.
Frank on 2.2.2010
History of King Cake
The story of the king cake begins, like the story of Mardi Gras itself, with the pagans. They had a celebration where a young man from the village was chosen to be treated like a king for a whole year. He was not denied during his reign, but after the year was over he became a human sacrifice to the gods. To eliminate this pagan custom, the Christian Church encouraged an observance calling for the preparation of a king cake containing a bean; whoever received the slice with the bean became king for a week and was allowed to choose a queen to reign with him. This took the place of the sacrificial pagan rite.
The King Cake tradition is believed to have been brought to New Orleans, Louisiana, from France in the 1870’s. It evolved from the Twelfth Night or Epiphany pastry made by those early settlers. They added their own touches with the Spanish custom of choosing Twelfth Night royalty.
In European countries, the coming of the wise men bearing gifts to the Christ Child is celebrated twelve days after Christmas. The celebration, called Epiphany, Little Christmas on the Twelfth Night, is a time of exchanging gifts and feasting. All over the world people gather for festive Twelfth Night celebrations. One of the most popular customs is still the baking of a special cake in honor of the three kings…”A King’s Cake” or Gateau de Roi.
A King Cake’s ring shape, too, is significant, as some believe it symbolizes the unity of all Christians, and others believe it aptly resembles a king’s crown.
A fève (dried fava bean) was originally hidden inside the cake but was replaced by coins, peas, pecans, rubber dolls, porcelain dolls, and in recent years plastic dolls. Starting around the 1930s, a tiny naked baby (Frozen Charlotte) was used instead of the bean or pea. The baby can be pink, brown, or golden. Some people believe that the baby represents the baby Jesus because Twelfth Night was when the three kings found the baby in Bethlehem.
Tradition has it that the person who finds the baby in the king cake is the next queen or king, he or she receives a year of good luck, is treated as royalty for that day and must host the next king cake party.
King Cake season lasts throughout Mardi Gras from the feast of the Epiphany until Mardi Gras Day.
The royal colors of purple, green and gold on the cake honors the three kings who visited the Christ child on the Epiphany. Purple represents Justice. Green stands for Faith. Gold signifies Power.
The three colors appeared in 1872 on a Krewe of Rex carnival flag especially designed for the visiting Grand Duke of Russia. He came to New Orleans just for the carnival, and the universal colors remain his legacy.