The King Cake is a New Orleans tradition that involves a party, as pastry, and a plastic baby baked in a cake. Really, that’s it. As the tradition goes, a small plastic baby is hidden inside the cake; the person who gets the slice with the baby baked inside is the party host the following year.
It’s no secret that I love sweets, but I’m an average baker – at best. Below is a super awesome recipe I found some years ago, it’s easy enough and tastes great. This recipe makes a standard 8 serving cake. You can double the ingredients if you’d like to make more than one cake. If you have a favorite recipe, send it my way. I’d love to try something new too!
1/2 cup milk
2 tablespoons butter
1 (.25 ounce) package active dry yeast
1/3 cup warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
1/4 cup white sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
2-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1-1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/3 cup chopped pecans
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup raisins
1/4 cup melted butter
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
1-1/2 teaspoons water
Scald milk, remove from heat and stir in 2 tablespoons of butter. Allow mixture to cool to room temperature. In a large mixing bowl, dissolve yeast in the warm water with 1 tablespoon of the white sugar. Let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes.
When yeast mixture is bubbling, add the cooled milk mixture. Whisk in the eggs. Stir in the remaining white sugar, salt and nutmeg. Beat the flour into the milk/egg mixture 1 cup at a time. When the dough has pulled together, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 8 to 10 minutes.
Lightly oil a large bowl, place the dough in the bowl and turn to coat with oil. Cover with a damp cloth or plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, about 2 hours, then punch down the dough.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Grease a cookie sheet or line with parchment paper.
To Make Filling: Combine the brown sugar, ground cinnamon, chopped pecans, 1/4 cup flour and 1/4 cup raisins. Pour 1/4 cup melted butter over the cinnamon mixture and mix until crumbly.
Roll dough out into large rectangle (approximately 10×16 inches or so). Sprinkle the filling evenly over the dough and roll up tightly like a jelly roll, beginning at the wide side. Bring the ends of each roll together to form an oval shaped ring. Place the ring on a prepared cookie sheet. With scissors make cuts 1/3 of the way through the ring at 1 inch intervals. Let rise in a warm spot until doubled in size, about 45 minutes.
Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes. Push the doll into the bottom of the cake. Frost while warm with the confectioners’ sugar blended with 1 to 2 teaspoons of water. Sprinkle with purple, green and gold sugar, or decorate with whole pecans and candied cherries.
Note: Be sure to tell everyone to inspect their piece of cake before they begin eating it. To be extra careful, use a plastic toy baby that is too large to swallow!