For centuries, king cakes have given the season between Twelfth Night and Mardi Gras a little something extra.
In Louisiana tradition, they add some fun to the Carnival holidays by proclaiming the person whose piece of cake contains a bean, pecan or plastic baby as king of the day – and also names them responsible for buying the next cake.
Being in the heart of southern Louisiana, St. Charles Parish is a great place to get fresh king cakes in a variety of styles.
For a traditional king cake, residents can head to Majoria’s Supermarket. The market bakes its own cakes from scratch, offering four varieties including plain and cream cheese-filled.
The store uses gourmet cinnamon dough and premium ingredients to give locals that just-right taste from their childhood memories.
Take-Away Donuts blends the tradition of king cake with a perfect, melt-in-your-mouth donut.
Each king cake has the light, fluffy texture of a donut combined with the taste of the traditional Mardi Gras treat.
For 27 years, Raj Jain has been making the cakes at Take-Away during the Mardi Gras season and he said that experience is key when it comes to making a really special product.
"We use the best ingredients we can find and experience makes the difference," Jain said.
A new place in town, Two Sisters Bakery in Boutte has been selling king cakes non-stop.
Sarah Foret, one of the "sisters" and an owner, said that there is one key component that makes their king cakes the best.
"The unique thing about our king cakes is that we fill them after they’re baked, not before," Foret said. "It’s a little different and everybody loves it."
Foret has been making king cakes for 30 years, but added a new twist on the classic treat this year with king cake cupcakes. These individual servings of cake are just the right amount for anyone’s Mardi Gras fix.
Think you can do better in your own kitchen – or just want to give baking a try? Check out the recipe below for a traditional, plain king cake.
Another way to make your own king cake is with a mix at the grocery store by Mam Papaul’s, founded by Hahnville chef Nancy Wilson. The mix is an easy way to get kids involved in a Louisiana tradition in the kitchen. The boxed mix can also be purchased online at www.mampapauls.com.
Traditional King Cake
Recipe by Colette Lottinger
1 packages yeast
1 cup milk
2 sticks butter
1 cup sugar
1 tsp salt
5 cup flour
1 cup pecans, chopped
1 cup powdered sugar
Yellow, green and purple sugar
Dissolve yeast in 1/4 cup lukewarm water. Set aside.
Heat 1 cup of milk in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a near boil and remove from heat.
Add a stick of butter to the hot milk and let melt.
Add 1/2 cup sugar and 1 teaspoon salt to the milk and stir in.
When milk is cooled down, transfer yeast mixture to a large mixing bowl. Add the milk mixture and combine.
Beat eggs well and add them to the yeast/milk mixture in the bowl. Mix well with a wire whisk.
Add a cup of flour and beat well with the whisk.
Add another cup of flour and beat well with the whisk.
Add a third cup of flour and stir in well with a wooden spoon. (By this time the mixture is getting too thick and will get caught in the wire whisk).
Add flour in small amounts and start kneading it in with your clean hands. Add 5 cups of flour in all...blending it in well.
Drape a clean kitchen towel over the bowl and let rise until it looks about 3 times larger than you started out. This will take about 1 1/2 hours.
Punch down the risen dough and take it out of the bowl, turning it onto some parchment paper with a little flour on.
Roll the dough lengthwise like the parchment paper to make a very long king cake.
Melt a stick of butter and add about 1/2 cup or a little more sugar to it, a couple of generous shakes of cinnamon, up to 1 cup of chopped pecans and a little almond extract. You can spread this mixture out over the dough, or you could use any combinations you like in a king cake.
Roll the dough from the widest ends, still keeping it on the parchment paper. Loop it like a king cake and adjust it to make it look nice.
Transfer the parchment paper with the king cake on it to a pan for baking. You will let this rise until nice and double before baking it...about an hour longer.
Bake it at 325 degrees about 20 to 25 minutes or until nicely browned.
Place a cup of powdered sugar in a bowl and add a tablespoon and a teaspoon of liquid like milk or tea, and a few drops of almond extract. Stir and drip by spoonful over king cake.
Take yellow, green and purple Mardi Gras sugars and sprinkle over the icing.
|Michelle Stuckey/Herald Guide|
|Two Sisters Bakery in Boutte puts a new twist on king cakes by filling them after they are baked - giving even bursts of flavor throughout the cake.|