Mardi Gras King Cake

King cake, the perfect finale to any Mardi Gras celebration!  Similar to a coffee cake, is not only rich with color and taste, but also in history and tradition!   Mardi Gras, also known as King’s day, marks the start of merrymaking that continues until the grand finale on Fat Tuesday, the day before Ash Wednesday.  Usually decorated with sugars in the colors of purple (Justice), green (Faith), and gold (Power), the cake honors the three kings who visited the Jesus Christ on Epiphany, the 12th day after Christmas.

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CAKE:
2 pkgs. Active dry yeast (I used regular and not INSTANT)
1/2 cup WARM water
1 tsp. granulated Sugar
1/2 cup WARM milk
1/3 cup Sugar
2 large Eggs
1 tsp. Salt
1/3 cup Crisco Shortening
3 1/2 – 4 cups All purpose flour

FILLING:
1 (8 oz. pkg.) Cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup granulated Sugar
2 tsp. Vanilla extract
Heavy whipping cream, for consistency

GLAZE:
2 cups Powdered sugar
1 tsp. Vanilla extract
1/4 – 1/2 cups Heavy whipping cream OR Milk, until desired consistency is reached
Gold, Green, and Purple Colored sugars

 

In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the yeast, warm water, and teaspoon of sugar.  Stir to combine and dissolve the yeast.  Cover and allow the yeast to “bloom”.

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While the yeast is rising, pour the milk into a microwave safe dish and place in the microwave to heat slightly to lukewarm.  Add the shortening to the warm milk and stir to slightly melt the shortening.

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Add in the eggs and whisk together to combine well with the shortening and milk.

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By this time, the yeast mixture should have risen; pour the egg/milk mixture into the yeast mixture.

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Add in the sugar.

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Now combine 2 cups of All-purpose flour with the salt and stir to combine.  Add this to the yeast mixture in the bowl.  Using a dough hook, mix the ingredients to combine.

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Once most of the flour has incorporated, add 1 1/2 cups more flour.  Mix this together until a soft dough forms, this will usually take anywhere from 8 – 10 minutes.  Add more flour if needed to form a slightly sticky but soft dough.

NOTE:  DO NOT use more than 4 CUPS of flour, in total!

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Once a slightly sticky, but soft dough has formed, remove it from the bowl.  Lightly spray a glass bowl with JOY baking spray and rotate the ball of dough all around to coat with the spray.  Cover and allow to rise until doubled in size.

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In the meantime, make the filling by combining the ingredients in a bowl.  Using a hand mixer, blend the ingredients until smooth and creamy.  Add a few tablespoons of heavy cream or regular milk to the mixture for a desired spreading consistency.  Cover and set this aside.

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Once the dough has risen, flour your board or counter.  Place the dough onto the board and rub some flour over the top of it, just to avoid it being too sticky.  Flatten it out a bit with your fingers.  Now cut it into half; you will be able to make 2 loaves of King cake with this recipe.

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Cover the other piece of dough until you’re ready for it.  Using a floured rolling pin, roll out the piece of dough to roughly about a 16×20-inch rectangle or close to it.  Now, top the dough with the cream cheese filling you made earlier.

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Using an offset spatula or knife, spread the filling all over the dough, covering the whole thing.

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Now, taking the longer end of the rectangle, start rolling the edges towards the other end.  Continue doing this until the dough is completely rolled up, making sure seam is facing the bottom.

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Place the dough onto a lightly greased baking pan or Silpat silicon liner, forming a ring.  Pinch the two open ends together to seal the ring and avoiding it from opening while baking.  Using a clean towel, cover the dough and place in a draft free area to double in size, about 1 – 1 1/2 hours.

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While the King cake is rising, start making the glaze.  Combine all of the ingredients in a bowl and using a hand mixer, beat until well combined.  The glaze should be a smooth but of a pourable consistency.  You want to be able to drizzle it over the cake and have it drip down the sides.  Set this aside.

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When the rising time is almost up, preheat your oven to 375° degrees.  Making sure your rack is in the CENTER position of your oven, place the pan in the oven and allow to bake for about  25 – 30 minutes, rotating the pan a few times to brown evenly.

Allow the “cake” to cool in the pan, before  moving onto a cooling rack. Once the cake has cooled, you can either drizzle the glaze while it’s on a cooling rack OR just leave it in the pan.

Using a spoon, drizzle the glaze over the cake and allow it to drip down and around the cake, this can get a bit messy.  Allow the glaze to set slightly and then sprinkle your colored sugars, alternating with the purple, green, and gold OR yellow.  Move onto a serving plate, slice and serve!

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