Welcome to January 6: The Feast of the Epiphany, 12th Night, the final day that it's still OK to have a Christmas wreath on my door (which doesn't mean it will get taken down - I'll probably forget. If you drive by, try not to judge).
And in Louisiana, it's the official start to the Mardi Gras season. We've given ourselves almost a week to recover from New Year's, so it's definitely time for a party.
At my house, that means I'm going to make a king cake :)
For a long time, I didn't understand everyone in my native state's obsession with this thing - I always thought it tasted like dried out cinnamon bread with too-sweet frosting. Again, enter the marvelous mother-in-law... King Cakes are amazing when made from scratch. I actually love them hot out of the oven, with warm, gooey cinnamon filling.
For the dough:
1 stick melted, cooled butter, plus 1 Tbs softened, for the bowl.
2/3 cup milk, room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp salt
2/3 cup warm water
2 envelopes or 5 tsp yeast
6 cups all purpose flour
Combine the butter, milk, sugar, salt, and water in the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment. Add yeast; let sit for 2-3 minutes, until frothy. Beat in eggs one at a time. Add flour and beat until just combined. Turn out into a buttered bowl. Allow to rise for 1 1/2 to 2 hours. The dough will be very sticky and won't rise as much as bread dough.
Roll out the dough into a long, thin rectangle (or as close as you can get - here's my attempt)
Then divide it into three strips (if you are braiding it). Otherwise, just fill the rectangle.
For the filling:
1 block cream cheese, very soft (I microwave these on half power)
1/2 stick butter, very soft
2/3 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar (dark or light)
1 Tablespoon cinnamon
Combine. Spread down one side of the dough.
Fold the dough lengthwise or roll, so that the cinnamon filling is in the middle of each strip.
Braiding is much easier of you start in the middle and go all the way to one end.
Gently lift the middle section and place it on a flat baking pan or a stone. If you are transferring it to a pretty platter, bake it on parchment paper.
Shape it into a circle and tuck in the ends.
Bake in a 350 oven for 20-30 minutes, until golden brown. Allow to cool slightly.
For the glaze:
1 cup powdered sugar
1-2 tbs milk
Colored sugar - purple, green, and gold.
Spread the glaze over the cake while it is still slightly warm. The icing sets up fairly quickly, and when it does this, the colored sugar doesn't stick as well, so I usually do 1/2 the cake at a time. Sprinkle with alternating colored sugar - purple, green, and gold. My boys love helping with this part.
Laissez les bons temps rouler!!