Mardi Gras will soon arrive and King Cake is one of the traditional treats enjoyed for this holiday. This brioche like cake is also called the “Three Kings Cake” because its symbolism is tied to the Epiphany and it traditionally has a bean, nut, or trinket hidden inside. Whoever finds this treasure is designated king. However, along with this honor comes obligation… they must provide the next King Cake or host the next Mardi Gras Party.
- ½ cup room temperature butter
- 1/3 cup granulated sugar
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 TBSP fresh orange zest
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 large eggs
- 4 cups flour
- 1 cup room temperature milk
- 4 ½ tsp yeast (2 envelopes)
- 3 TBSP butter, melted
- 2 TBSP cinnamon
- 4 TBSP granulated sugar
- 1 large dry bean or pecan
- 2 cups powdered sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 TBSP milk (and a little extra)
- Yellow, green, and purple food coloring
- 3 sandwich bags
In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream together the butter, sugar, salt, and orange zest. Add vanilla and one egg at a time and beat to mix. Dissolve the yeast in the milk. Add milk mixture to the butter mixture and beat. Add the flour to the butter mixture, ½ cup at a time and blend well after each addition.
Knead in the mixing bowl with the flat beater attachment until dough comes together and pulls away from the side of the bowl, about 8 minutes.
Remove dough from bowl and knead by hand for about 5 minutes until smooth. Return to mixing bowl, cover with a clean cloth, and allow to rise for about an hour until it doubles in bulk. Remove dough from bowl. Divide into thirds. Roll each piece of dough into a long rope, brush the top of each rope generously with melted butter. Brush your baking pan with the remaining butter. Mix together the cinnamon and granulated sugar, pour it over the buttered top of each rope of dough.
Braid the dough together and carefully form a circle. Place braided circle of dough on buttered baking pan and hide the dry bean or nut in the braid. Sprinkle top of cake with any excess cinnamon sugar. Cover with the clean towel again and allow it to rise for 45 minutes then bake at 350°F for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown.
Make a glaze by combining 2 cups powdered sugar with 1 tsp vanilla extract and enough milk to make it thick. Whisk until smooth and divide into three freezer bags. Generously add food coloring to each of the freezer bags: one yellow, one green and one purple; knead until the colors are smooth. Cut a corner out of each bag and generously drizzle the cake with all three colors.
Whoever finds the nut is crowned king and must make the next cake!