I love a good party …. and I especially love a good cake! 🙂 With Mardi Gras coming up soon, I thought it would be fun to share a Traditional New Orleans King Cake. Although it may sound intimidating, it’s a really simple cake to make!
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Traditional New Orleans King Cake
Mardi Gras takes place 46 days before Easter – which is the day before Lent (this year it is Tuesday, March 4th, 2014). As you may know, Ash Wednesday is the start of Lent. Although, the most famous Mardi Gras celebration is in New Orleans, there are many celebrations throughout the world.
The King Cake came to New Orleans from France in the 1870’s, and it honors the three kings who visited the baby Jesus. Traditionally, a dried pea, coin or plastic baby is hidden in the cake to represent the Christ child. Whoever finds the token in their piece of cake is said to have a year of good luck. The King Cake is shaped like a crown and is decorated in the “royal” colors – violet (justice), gold (power) and green (faith). These three colors are also the official colors of Mardi Gras.
Laissez les bons temps rouler!
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For the cake
- 2 packages ( 1/4 oz. each) active dry yeast
- 1/2 cup warm water (110°F - 115°F)
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
- 1/2 cup warm milk (110°F - 115°F)
- 2 egg yolks
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon grated lemon peel
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 3-4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 egg, beaten
For the glaze
- 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice
- 2-3 tablespoons water
- Green, purple and yellow sugars
- In a large bowl, dissolve the yeast in warm water. Add the ½ cup sugar, butter, milk, yolks, salt, lemon peel, nutmeg and 2 cups of flour. Beat until smooth. Stir in enough of the remaining flour to form a soft dough. The dough will be sticky.
- Turn the dough out onto a floured surface. Knead until smooth or elastic, about 6-8 minutes. Place in a greased bowl, turning once to grease the top. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about an hour.
- Punch down dough. Turn onto a lightly floured surface and roll into a 16x10-in. rectangle. In a small bowl, combine the cinnamon with the ¼ cup sugar. Sprinkle over the dough to within ½-in. of the edge. Roll up jelly-roll style, starting on the long side. Pinch seam to seal. Place seam-side down on a greased baking sheet - pinch ends together to form a ring. Cover and let rise until doubled, about an hour.
- Preheat oven to 375°F. Brush the cake with the beaten egg. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown. Cool completely on a wire rack. For the glaze, combine the powdered sugar, lemon juice and enough water to achieve the desired consistency. Spread or pour over the cooled cake. Sprinkle with the colored sugars.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 331Total Fat: 9gSaturated Fat: 5gCholesterol: 59mgSodium: 208mgFiber: 1gSugar: 28gProtein: 5g
Originally published on February 25, 2014. Updated on April 25, 2021.