Mardi Gras King Cake
I love King Cake. I know it's typically just for Mardi Gras...but I make it year round. I love it that much. If you've never had it, the first thing you have to know is that it's not really a cake. It's more like the best cinnamon roll you've ever had in your life. King Cake is a yeast bread with a filling that usually consists of cinnamon and sometimes nuts and raisins, as well. Topped with an orange glaze, this cake is great for breakfast...a snack...dessert....or anytime you need a pick-me-up!
Yields 1 King Cake...servings depend on how generous you feel like being.
- 1 (1/4 oz.) package of active dry yeast
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup water
- 1/2 cup milk
- 2 tablespoons light brown sugar, packed
- 5 teaspoons pure vanilla extract (divided, 2+2+1)
- 1 egg
- 1 egg yolk
- 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt (divided, 1/2 + 1/4)
- 1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened (should almost be the consistency of mayonnaise)
- 1/2 cup golden raisins
- 1/4 cup bourbon (or Southern Comfort... or Triple Sec...pick your favorite or whatever you have on hand)
- 3/4 cup dark brown stage, packed
- 2/3 cup toasted pecans, chopped
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- Zest from 1 orange
- 3 cups powdered sugar
- 3-4 tablespoons fresh orange juice (from that orange you just zested...)
- Purple, green, and gold sanding sugars
- Plastic baby or bean
- In the bowl of an electric stand mixer with the hook attachment, combine yeast, 1/2 teaspoon of the granulated sugar, and 1/4 cup water (heated to 115 F). Stir to combine and let sit until foamy; this should take about 10 minutes.
- Add remaining sugar, milk, light brown sugar, 2 teaspoons vanilla, egg, and egg yolk. Beat on a low speed until well combined, about 1 minute. Add flour and 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt and mix on medium speed until dough just comes together.
- Turn speed to high and beat dough for about 4 minutes. Add softened butter and continue to beat until butter is completely incorporated, the dough is smooth and pulling away form the sides of the bowl (about 6 minutes).
- While dough is mixing, use butter, shortening, or a little vegetable oil to grease a large bowl. When dough is finished mixing, pour into greased bowl and cover in plastic wrap. Let sit in a warm place for about 2 hours, until the dough has doubled in size.
Meanwhile, make the filling. Over medium heat, combine raisins and bourbon in a small saucepan. Heat until raisins plump. Remove from heat and add brown sugar, pecans, 2 teaspoons vanilla, cinnamon, orange zest, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. At this point, you can add a plastic baby or bean into the filling. Set filling aside.
Once dough has doubled in size, punch it down and turn it out onto a heavily floured surface. Using a floured rolling pin, roll the dough out into a rectangular shape, until the dough is about 1/4" thick.
Leaving a 1 inch border, spread filling evenly across dough. Starting at the side closest to you and using the longest edge, roll the dough into a tube, jelly-roll style. Pinch the seam so that the filling does not seep out. Also, pinch together the two ends of the end to form a circle. It helps to overlap the ends a little.
Transfer dough roll to a baking sheet lined in parchment paper. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit for about 1 1/2 hours, until the roll doubles in size.
Once dough has risen, remove plastic wrap and preheat your oven to 350 F. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until crust is golden brown.
Transfer cake to a wire rack and let cool completely.
- Once cake has completely cooled, make the glaze. Combine powdered sugar, remaining 1 teaspoon of vanilla, and enough orange juice to reach your desired consistency in a bowl and whisk until well combined. You want the glaze to be rather thick.
- Spread glaze evenly over the cake and sprinkle with colored sanding sugars. You can decorate with bands of cake or a random mix...whatever you like!
- Eat and enjoy...and watch out for that baby (or bean)!