Mardi Gras Cake, Braided Cake, or Three King’s Cake Whatever you call it, this scrumptious cake with its purple, green, and yellow colored sugars is a delicacy with a surprise inside. The King Cake has been in icon in New Orlean’s culture for centuries. Originating back to the Twelfth day after Christmas (The Epiphany) the King Cake represents biblical kings bringing gifts to hone the Baby Jesus in Behtlehem. This tasty treat is eaten from the beginning of the Carnival season (January 6) until "Fat Tuesday" or Mardi Gras Day. This day is celebrated on the day before Ash Wednesday. The King Cake can have delectable fillings of apple, cream, or strawberries inside. For some people just the sweet cinnamon filling is enough. Whatever flavoring you are partial to in an authentic King Cake someone will find a surprise in their serving. Dating back to the Roman Empire, a small trinket was baked inside of The King Cake. Today a small plastic baby is placed inside. This baby represents the Baby Jesus. Whoever gets the baby has to bring the next cake to the next carnival celebration. The dough for The King Cake is braided or twisted before it is baked. The King Cake has such a rich and sweet flavor that its more like a pastry than a bread. Each cake is topped with a sugar icing and then decorated with purple, green and gold (yellow) sprinkles. These are the colors of the Mardi Gras.
- Purple represents Justice
- Green symbolizes Faith
- Gold stands for Power
It wouldn’t be a true Mardi Gras festival without King Cakes. Full of rich, cinnamon enhanced dough, these delicacies are craved throughout the country. Many cake shoppes sell King’s Cakes during the carnival season. The cake itself is made similar to a brioche. King Cake Recipe Cake:
- 1/4 cup butter or margarine
- 1 (16 ounce) container sour cream
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 (.25 ounce) envelopes active dry yeast
- 1 tablespoon white sugar
- 1/2 cup warm water (100 to 110 degrees F.)
- 2 eggs
- 6-1/2 cups all-purpose flour, divided
- 1/2 cup white sugar
- 1-1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1/3 cup butter or margarine, softened
- Colored Frostings (see below)
- Colored Sugars (see below)
- Dried pea, bean, or 1-inch tall plastic or ceramic baby (optional, see Note)
- 3 cups powdered sugar
- 3 tablespoons butter, melted
- 3 tablespoons milk
- 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Colored sugars:
- 1-1/2 cups white sugar
- Cook butter or margarine, sour cream, sugar, and salt in a saucepan over low heat, stirring often, until butter melts. Cool mixture to 100 degrees to 110 degrees F.
- Dissolve yeast and 1 tablespoon sugar in 1/2 cup warm water in a large bowl; let stand 5 minutes. Add butter mixture, eggs, and 2 cups flour; beat at medium speed with an electric mixer 2 minutes or until smooth. Gradually stir in enough remaining flour to make a soft dough.
- Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. Place in a well-greased bowl, turning to grease top. Cover and let rise in a warm place (85 degrees), free from drafts, 1 hour or until doubled in bulk.
- Stir together 1/2 cup sugar and cinnamon; set aside.
- Punch dough down; divide in half. Turn 1 portion out onto a lightly floured surface; roll to a 28- x 10-inch rectangle. Spread half each of cinnamon mixture and softened butter on dough. Roll dough, jellyroll fashion, starting at long side. Place dough roll, seam side down, on a lightly greased baking sheet. Bring ends together to form an oval ring, moistening and pinching edges together to seal. Repeat with remaining dough, cinnamon mixture, and butter.
- Cover and let rise in a warm place, free from drafts, 20 minutes or until doubled in bulk.
- Bake at 375 degrees F. for 15 to 20 minutes or until golden. Decorate with bands of Colored Frostings, and sprinkle with Colored Sugars.
- Stir together powdered sugar and melted butter. Add milk to reach desired consistency for drizzling; stir in vanilla.
- Colored Sugars:
- Place 1/2 cup sugar and drop of green food coloring in a jar or zip-top plastic bag; seal. Shake vigorously to evenly mix color with sugar. Repeat procedure with 1/2 cup sugar and yellow food coloring. For purple, combine 1 drop red and 1 drop blue food coloring before adding to remaining 1/2 cup sugar.
A printable version of this recipe available HERE