Making a king cake has never been one of my baking priorities, considering I've got little to no knowledge of Mardi Gras in general. But something came over me last week and I decided I wanted to take on this challenge. And a challenge it certainly was: I did a fair amount of research, finding an overwhelming number of different recipes and methods, then settled on a recipe from the king of New Orleans cooking himself.
King cake represents the three kings who brought gifts to the baby Jesus, and traditionally, whoever finds the dried bean or plastic baby in their piece of cake has to bring the next one or throw the next party. The three colors, purple, yellow, and green, are also significant. Purple signifies justice, while green represents faith and yellow, power.
Lots of yeast, colored sprinkles or frosting, and a dried bean or a plastic baby were all involved in Emeril's recipe, as was a serious hunt for candied citron (I imagine any kind of candied citrus would work well in its place). The recipe begins with forming the dough, then letting it rise for almost two hours, followed by kneading, shaping, and another rise.
The resulting cake was dense and chewy, much like the texture of a doughnut with a hint of lemon in the background. The sweetness comes from the icing and the sugar crystals, which I found to be a nice way to balance out the cake.
For more king cake photos and the recipe, keep reading.
While I really did enjoy this version of king cake, I think some kind of a filling might be nice. It wouldn't be too challenging to sprinkle a cinnamon, sugar, and butter mixture over the dough during the shaping phase, then fold it over and shape it into a ring from there.
Emeril's recipe calls for nutmeg, lemon zest, and candied citron as the main flavor components. Get creative with yours: use orange zest rather than lemon or raisins instead of candied citron. The beauty of king cake is that there are so many varieties out there, so you can feel free to adjust yours to your preferences.
I didn't have a coffee or shortening can to use around which to shape the cake, so I turned to my trusty mason jar obsession, and the glass jar worked like a charm.
Would you give this colorful cake a try?
From Emeril Lagasse Ingredients For the cake: For the glaze: Directions Instead of a coffee can to shape the cake around, a buttered mason jar can be used.
1/2 cup warm water (105 to 115 degrees)
2 packages dry yeast
2 teaspoons sugar
4 to 5 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
1/2 cup warm milk (105 to 115 degrees)
1/2 cup melted unsalted butter, cooled
5 egg yolks
1/2 cup finely chopped candied citron
1 pecan half, uncooked dried bean, or King Cake baby
2 cups sifted powdered sugar
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons water
Purple, green, and yellow sugar crystals
From Emeril Lagasse
For the cake:
For the glaze:
Instead of a coffee can to shape the cake around, a buttered mason jar can be used.