Around last year, two friends and myself went to New Orleans to take in the food, revelry and history of the Crescent city. We spent one week having lots of fun in one the world’s foremost food cities.
Before we embarked on our trip, we made a list of possible places to eat, another list of possible dishes we should try and one of those was the King Cake.
No doubt having it’s origins in the Galette des Rois, the New Orleans King Cake is made of a brioche-like dough and a filling with cream cheese, cinnamon and often pralines.
We bought our King Cake from the King Cake Hub, a seasonal shop that opens each year in a vacant space selling many varieties of cakes from different producers (small and large).
The filling possibilities are as endless as one’s creativity; I’ve combined some tradition with some Greek tsoureki braiding technique. The result of which I am very happy with.
A King Cake is traditionally decorated with the colours of Purple, Green and Gold. These colours are symbolic: Purple Represents Justice. Green Represents Faith. Gold Represents Power.
This is how it rolls out when you serve King Cake: pieces are sliced and given out and whoever gets the baby charm hidden in the cake then is “king for the day” but…that person must bring or make a King Cake for the next gathering.
New Orleans is also full of superstitions so only make a King Cake from Epiphany (beginning of Carnival) and up to Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday).
Laissez les bons temps roullez (Let the good times roll)!
New Orleans King Cake
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup softened unsalted butter
2 Tbsp. instant yeast
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp. salt
zest of 1/2 lemon
1/8 tsp. ground nutmeg
2 large eggs + 1 yolk (egg white reserved for brushing eggwash)
1/2 cup warm milk
Praline-Cream Cheese Filling
1/2 cup toasted and ground pecans
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 package (8 oz.) room temp cream cheese
1 Tbsp. corn starch
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
4 Tbsp. melted butter (reserved)
1 egg white mixed with a 1 Tbsp. water (reserved)
Creamy Vanilla Glaze
1 1/2 cups icing sugar
2 Tbsp. melted butter
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 Tbsp. milk
purple, green and gold sparkling sugars
One King Cake baby charm
- Into a stand mixer, add all your dry ingredients and mix briefly to blend. Into a small bowl, crack your eggs and whisk with a fork. Add the warm milk and mix.
- With the hook attachment running on your mixer, slowly add wet to dry. The dough will be ready when dough know longer sticks to the side of the bowl.
- Remove dough from the bowl, sprinkle some flour on your work surface and knead until dough is smooth and not tacky. Add about a Tbsp. of oil in your bowl, place ball of dough back in, ensure the dough is rubbed all over with oil. Cover ball of dough with plastic wrap and allow to about an hour to rise (should increase by dough in size).
- Your filling consists of two parts: nut mixture (praline) and cream cheese filling. Mix your ground pecans, brown sugar and cinnamon in a bowl, set aside. Add the cream cheese into bowl along with the corn starch, sugar, vanilla and mix until incorporated. Transfer to a piping bag and reserve.
- Take your dough out of the bowl, punch to deflate and place on a floured work surface. Use a rolling pin to roll the dough to a 9 x 14″ rectangle. Now cut lengthwise into three equal pieces.
- Brush the melted butter on the surface of the three dough sheets then sprinkle the praline mixture over the area, leaving about 1/2 inch border bare.
- Now take your piping bag and and pipe out one line of cream cheese filling on each dough sheet.
- Carefully roll up each into a cylinder, use your fingers to pinch and seal the dough.
- Now carefully line up cylinders vertically beside each other. Now take the top of each, bring them together at the top and lightly pinch the three together.
- Time to make a braid: right to the middle, left to the middle….until your braid has been formed. Lift and pinch both ends of the braid and tuck under to form a uniform braid.
- Place an empty coffee tin in the middle of a parchment-lined baking sheet. Carefully lift and and carry the braid of dough over to baking sheet, wrap around the coffee tin, pinch the head and tail of bread to make one uniform wreath.
- Place your king cake in a warm spot in your kitchen to rise for 1 hour (you may use your proofing function on your oven).
- Pre-heat your oven to 350F. Brush the eggwash on the entire surface of the King Cake. Place in your preheated oven for 20-25 minutes or until golden.
- Remove from the oven and allow to cool (you may now remove the coffee tin)
- To make your glaze, add icing sugar, melted butter, vanilla and stir. Add milk in increments, mix in.
- Once King Cake has cooled, use a spatula to drizzle or spread icing on top of the cake. Sprinkle with purple, green and cold sugars.
- Insert the baby charm somewhere under the cake or from the exposed middle part of the cake.
- Transfer to a platter, cover with plastic wrap and store in a cool, dry spot until ready to serve.
- Cut into slices, serve with coffee.
Lucky Baby Charm: If you don’t have one, just use a coin or other charm of your choice
© 2021, Peter Minaki. All rights reserved.
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