Carnival Time King Cake Recipe

Throughout the Gulf South, communities began celebrating the “carnival season” on January 6, which culminates on Mardi Gras (French for “Fat Tuesday”), which this year will be on February 9. One of the many traditions of carnival is to serve King Cakes throughout the entire season. Similar to coffee cake, this ring-shaped confection is as rich in history as it is in color and taste. Trademark decorations–sugars in the royal colors of purple (justice), green (faith), and gold (power)–honor the three kings from the biblical story of Christmas. Bring some carnival fun to your neck of the woods by baking this tasty confection and hosting a Mardi Gras themed party this carnival season.

Ingredients

1 (16-ounce) container sour cream
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter
1 teaspoon salt
2 (1/4-ounce) envelopes active dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water (100° to 110°)
1 tablespoon sugar
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
6 to 6 1/2 cups bread flour (substituting all-purpose flour will make a denser cake)
1/3 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
Creamy Glaze (recipe below)
Purple-, green-, and gold-tinted sugar sprinkles

Preparation

  • Cook first 4 ingredients in a medium saucepan over low heat, stirring often, until butter melts. Set aside, and cool mixture to 100° to 110°.
  • Stir together yeast, 1/2 cup warm water, and 1 tablespoon sugar in a 1-cup glass measuring cup; let stand 5 minutes.
  • Beat sour cream mixture, yeast mixture, eggs, and 2 cups flour at medium speed with a heavy-duty electric stand mixer until smooth. Reduce speed to low, and gradually add enough remaining flour (4 to 4 1/2 cups) until a soft dough forms.
  • Turn dough out 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°), free from drafts, 1 hour or until dough is doubled in bulk.
  • Punch down dough, and divide in half. Roll each portion into a 22- x 12-inch rectangle. Spread 1/3 cup softened butter evenly on each rectangle, leaving a 1-inch border. Stir together 1/2 cup sugar and cinnamon, and sprinkle evenly over butter on each rectangle.
  • Roll up each dough rectangle, jelly-roll fashion, starting at 1 long side. Place one dough roll, seam side down, on a lightly greased baking sheet. Bring ends of roll together to form an oval ring, moistening and pinching edges together to seal. Repeat with second dough roll.
  • Cover and let rise in a warm place (85°), free from drafts, 20 to 30 minutes or until doubled in bulk.
  • Bake at 375° for 14 to 16 minutes or until golden. Slightly cool cakes on pans on wire racks (about 10 minutes). Drizzle Creamy Glaze evenly over warm cakes; sprinkle with colored sugars, alternating colors and forming bands. Let cool completely.

•  •  •

CREAMY GLAZE RECIPE

Ingredients

3 cups powdered sugar
3 tablespoons butter, melted
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 to 4 tablespoons milk

Preparation

Stir together first 4 ingredients. Stir in 2 tablespoons milk, adding additional milk, 1 teaspoon at a time, until spreading consistency.

Recipe & Photo courtesy Southern Living Magazine. Photography: Beth Dreiling Styling: Lisa Powell Bailey / Food Styling Pam Lolley

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