Fat Tuesday will be celebrated on February 24th this year. I like to celebrate Fat Tuesday because when else do you have an excuse to have a good time on a Tuesday. Tuesday is generally a pretty uneventful day in the scope of your week. Why not jazz it up with an excuse to eat cake in a quest for good luck.
Stemming back to the 1700’s, King Cakes are the traditional celebratory cake of the Mardi Gras. Originally King Cakes were served at Mardi Gras Parties and baked inside the King Cake was a dried bean or a plastic baby. The lucky finder of the hidden surprise is to enjoy good luck for the coming year, and is expected to bake the cake for the next Mardi Gras.
King Cakes are decorated with three colors: green (represents faith), purple (justice) and gold (the voice of power). Tradition, hidden surprise, calories versus luck for a WHOLE year, fun on a Tuesday, what more could you ask for?
Cream Cheese filled King Cake
2 1/4 teaspoons yeast or 1 package instant yeast
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup butter softened (1/2 stick)
2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 egg, room temperature
1 teaspoon nutmeg
grated zest of one lemon (1 tablespoon)
2 1/2 cups flour
10 oz. cream cheese
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups powdered sugar
2 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
colored sugars (green, purple and yellow)
1. Heat milk to 105-110 degrees in a small saucepan over low heat. Place milk in the bowl of a standing mixer, add yeast and stir to combine. Allow milk mixture to rest for about 10 minutes or until frothy.
2. Beat the egg in a small bowl and add to milk mixture. Then add 2 1/2 cups flour a little at a time, butter, sugar, salt and lemon zest. With the dough hook on low speed, mix until dough comes together. The dough will be slightly sticky, not too wet. If the dough seems very moist you may add up to 1/2 cup additional flour 1 tablespoon at a time. I suggest trying a little less flour as you will work some in while kneading.
3. Transfer dough to a lightly floured surface and knead for a few minutes until dough is soft and smooth. Place dough in a lightly oiled bowl and cover with a towel or plastic wrap. Allow dough to rise in a warm and draft-free place for about an hour, or until doubled in size.
4. Make filling by beating the cream cheese, vanilla, and sugar together with a mixer until fluffy then set aside.
5. Lay dough on lightly floured surface, punch down and roll into a 20" by 10" rectangle. Spread cream cheese mixture evenly on one half of the dough, then fold other half over to cover. Pinch dough together to seal in cream cheese. Make a ring and pinch ends together, the ring can be a circle or oval. Place on a parchment lined cookie sheet, cover loosely with plastic wrap and allow to rise for 45 minutes.
6. In 375 degree oven bake king cake for 20 minutes or until slightly browned. Remove from oven and set a side to cool. Add the bean at this point by making a small slit underneath the cake with a paring knife.
7. Mix icing ingredients together and whisk until smooth. Drizzle icing heavily over king cake, and while still wet, sprinkle with colored sugars.