I am not from Louisiana. I am not Catholic. But I am from North Carolina, so I have a great appreciation for all things southern. And I am Episcopalian, so I can get on board with Shrove Tuesday and other Lenten pursuits. On the other hand, I don’t know that I ever want to go to New Orleans during Mardi Gras. I don’t particularly love crowds and it seems like it might be challenging to find a bathroom, which I really dislike. But, as you may have deduced, I do like to find a reason to cook and if there is a theme, I have to go with it.
I have had a New Orleansean-made king cake once, I worked in an office that had a New Orleans counterpart and they sent us a king cake. It was delicious and I couldn’t stop eating it. Couldn’t stop eating it in that way that every time I got up to do something, I cut a little slice. And that went on until I felt sick and then probably continued to eat cake slivers, despite the tummy ickiness. Not that I ever did that again. Or had done it prior. Moving on.
I am not sure if the guys over at the Table Set inspired me with their Mardi Gras themed podcast or I had already planned to make a King Cake but they did supply me with a recipe. I had looked at recipes in the past but this seemed as good as any. I certainly wasn’t doing this buy-cinnamon-roll-dough-in-the-can-and-pretend-it-is-King-Cake nonsense either. (no judgment, I am sure this is delicious, but I really like to do things the hard way).
The last thing I needed was a plastic baby. What did was what any internet-loving lady would do: google “king cake plastic baby.” Amazon sent me this little prize and I was off.
Of course there was also the yeast related drama. I have struggled in the past with yeasted baked goods. I finally found success with the Pioneer Woman’s famous cinnamon rolls and that has helped my confidence. Really, the main problem was the patience for letting the good rise and having a warm place. My mom is my baking consultant and an expert at bread, but I think failed to understand this “drafty old house!” in which I live (name that movie). Also, the grocery store hid the yeast from me and I am not great with reading directions when I haven’t had all my coffee (one 1/4 ounce packet, not 1 and 1/4 ounces of yeast). Reading this makes it sounds like this cake was never going to happen. But there was really no more drama (thanks Mary J. Blige).
I turned on my oven to 150 and opened the door to allow the heat escape and help my little ball of dough.
After the dough rose satisfactorily, I rolled it out in a circle, cut a hole in the middle, filled it with the cream cheese filling and allowed it to rest again. Then I realized I forgot the baby so I unfolded part and stuck that baby in there.
Finally, I baked it and drizzled it with these fabulously gaudy icings. It was a hit. I would make it again but try a different filling. My tester and I thought a custard filling would be better. This cream cheese filling tasted ok, but looked unappetizing. Maybe just cinnamon and raisins would be good too. Or chocolate?! And I guess I bucked tradition without coloring sugar but just coloring the icing.
Guess who found the baby? Me. Guess I will be hosting the party next year! And definitely making that cake!
Happy Mardi Gras! Laissez les bons temps rouler!