Although I live in Ohio, the king cake has been a tradition in my family for many years. My aunt and uncle live in New Orleans, and they often sent king cakes to us just before Mardi Gras (also known as Fat Tuesday). I remember what fun it was to receive one of these, and the anticipation of finding the “baby” inside the cake. Nowadays, king cakes are easily found in bakeries across the country…no need to live in New Orleans or pay to have one shipped in order to take part in this fun tradition!
There are many different recipes for king cakes. The most traditional one is a ring of twisted cinnamon dough topped with icing and sugars, usually in the Mardi Gras colors…purple, gold and green. The most important part of the king cake (at least to the youngest one in my house) is the plastic baby hidden inside the cake. My aunt tells me that in her part of the country the finder of the baby hosts the next king cake party. In our family, the person who finds the baby in his piece of the cake has good luck for the rest of the day!
I usually purchase a king cake from our local bakery, but I decided to create one of my own this year. My girls love monkey bread…I often prepare this for special days, like the first day of school breakfast. It has a cinnamon taste, a lot like the traditional king cake…with less kneading and rising of the dough.
I started by cutting each biscuit (4 cans of Pillsbury biscuits) into four pieces. Then I rolled them into a mixture of 1/2 cup sugar and 1 teaspoon of cinnamon.
I coated a Bundt pan with nonstick cooking spray, and then I started layering the cinnamon-sugar covered pieces of dough in the pan. I placed the plastic baby in the pan when the pan was halfway full with the pieces of biscuits.
Once all the pieces of biscuits were in the pan, I mixed together one stick of butter and 1 cup of brown sugar in a small pot. Bring this to a boil for one minute. Then pour it over the biscuits.
I baked it at 350 degrees for 35 minutes. Take it out of the oven and let it cool for 5 minutes. Then invert it on a serving tray, platter or cake pedestal.
My family loves it like this…cinnamon and sugar goodness! However, I decided to make it a little fancier. After all, it is Mardi Gras…the final day to indulge and enjoy before Lent begins!
I whisked together 2 cups of confectioners sugar, 1/2 cup of heavy cream and 1 teaspoon of vanilla to make a drizzle icing for the top of the cake. This adds extra sweetness, and provides the “glue” for the colored sugars to stick. I just spooned the sugars on top of the icing.
The final touch was a simple paper bunting using card stock, paper straws and bakers twine. Simply cut the triangles and tape them onto the twine. Tie the twine to the paper straws on both ends of the bunting. I also placed a wooden skewer inside each straw to give it more support. Position the straws in the cake.
A quick and simple version of a king cake! A different twist on a fun tradition!
Now who will find the hidden baby…