GUARANTEED, You will not find a King Cake as Devine as this one in a local bakery. This King Cake is made with Bourbon Soaked Cherries.
What is Mardi Gras
Mardi Gras, is the last day of a period of time frame for celebrating what is known as Carnival. It is a festive season that occurs before the the liturgical season of Lent. This day is also known as Fat Tuesday. This occurs on the Tuesday preceding Ash Wednesday which is also 40 days before Easter.
The name Mardi Gras arose from the tradition of eating one last fatty indulgent meal before the beginning of the Lenten season on Ash Wednesday.
Mardi Gras particapants are said to be purging their souls of desires and preparing for the next 40 days ahead of fasting and repenting.
Masks are worn by party goers to avoid community judgement. The mask are said to hide their identity as they participate in partying activities of antics and indolences.
Where Did Mardi Gras Start?
Mardi Gras started in my families home town of Mobile Alabama in 1703. French settlers brought this celebration to Mobile. Mobile had the first Mardi Gras celebration in North America.
Mobile’s celebration of Mardi Gras was from its origin and remains today a family event where children participated in riding on floats and throwing Moon Pies and beads to the public watching the parade.
In 1830, the first masked parading society in America was formed in Mobile. This social organization group know as the “mystic society”, was responsible for coordinating parades and balls for the enjoyment of its members, guest and the public. The first parade that was formed was called the Cowbellion de Reakin Society.
In 1856, a few gentlemen from Mobile travelled to New Orleans for a meeting. The purpose of the meeting was for the gentleman from Mobile to assist New Orleans with starting up a secret society inspired by the Mystic Society in Mobile. New Orleans first and now its oldest krewe( Mistick Krewe of Comus)was formed from that meeting.
About the King Cake
Religious traditions are connected to the King Cake. The King Cake is symbolic of The Three Wise Men or Kings who followed a star leading them to pay homage to the Christ child.
The King Cake is a cross between a cake and pastry sometimes referred to as being a brioche-like dough that is swirled with cinnamon, cream cheese, topped with icing and colorful sugar. It is baked in a circle to represent a crown with jewels ( the colored sugar) with the shape. The icing has the colors of gold ( Gods power), green ( faith in Christ) and purple ( justice of God).
Within the King Cake there is a plastic baby which is symbolic of baby Jesus. It is said the person who gets the slice of King Cake containing the baby with have good fortune.
King Cake- Bourbon Cream Cheese Filling
- 2 cups Fresh cherries or frozen cherries that have been thawed out
For the Dough:
- 3/4 cup warm milk ( 108-110 degrees)
- 2 1/4 teaspoons yeast- active or quick rise
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 whole egg at room temp
- 1 egg yolk- room temp
- 1/4 cup melted unsalted butter
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 3 cups bread flour
- 2/3 cup brown sugar
- 1 1/2 Tablespoons ground cinnamon
- 1/4 cup softened unsalted butter
- 8 ounces softened cream cheese
- 2 cups Bourbon soaked cherries
- 4 cups powdered sugar
- 4-8 Tablespoons milk
- 4 cups granulated sugar
- food coloring ( gold or yellow, green and purple)
Bourbon Soaked Cherries: ( 2-3 days before making King Cake)
- Placed the Cherries into a quart size Mason jar and fill with bourbon to cover the cherries. Secure the lid tightly.
Quick Method for Bourbon Soaked Cherries:
- If you do not have a Mason jar filled with bourbon soaking cherries, that is okay. Your King Cake will turn out fabulous. Of course, the longer the cherries soak the more " flavorful" they will have.If needed, place the cherries into a bowl and cover the cherries with bourbon. Place plastic wrap over the bowl and set it aside. The cherries will not be needed for a little over an hour.
Making the Dough:
- Warm the milk in the microwave until it is a temperature of 108-110 degrees. Do not over heat. Use short burst on the microwave until the needed temperature is reached. I place the glass measuring cup with the milk in for 15 seconds, open the door and stir the milk, and then microwave for another 15 seconds.The time to get to 108-110 will vary depending on how cold the milk is when starting out and how your micrwave heats.
- Rinse your stand mixer's mixing bowl out with hot water and towel dry. You do not want to add warm milk to a cold bowl.
- Pour the warm milk into the mixing bowl.
- Add the yeast, the sugar, the eggs ( whole egg plus one egg yolk) and the melted butter ( not hot) to the mixing bowl. With the paddle attachment mix until blended.
- Add the flour and salt.Change the mixing paddle out to the dough hook.
- Start out on the low speed and increase to medium when the flour has started to incorporate into the liquid ingredients.
- Oil a mixing bowl with about 1 tablespoon of oil. A paper towel works well to apply the oil. Transfer the dough to the bowl and cover with a plastic wrap and a kitchen towel. I place the kitchen towl in the dryer for just a few minutes.Place the dough in a draft free area and allow the dough to rise for about an hour or until it has doubled in size. The environmental conditions factor into the time needed for the dough to rise…the temperature of the room and humidity.
- When the dough has proofed, transfer it to your floured work surface. Roll the dough out to a rectangle that is about 20 to 21 inches by 12 to 14 inches in size.If the dough is resistant to being rolled out, allow the dough to rest for 5- 10 minutes.
- Drain the cherries that have been soaking in bourbon with a strainer to remove the bourbon. Squeeze the cherries by hand to remove as much liquid as possible. Cut the cherries in half if desired. I usually leave them whole.
- Mix the brown sugar and cinnamon into a small mixing bowl and set aside.
Assembling the King Cake:
- Using an off set spatula or just your fingers, completely cover the dough rectangle with butter.
- Using your hands sprinkle the brown sugar and cinnamon mixture on top of the butter
- Spread the soft cream cheese with an off set spatula over the cinnamon
- Give the cheeries another squeeze to remove as much liquid as possible, or line a cooking sheet with paper towels, pour the cherries on to it and dab the cherries with another paper towel to dry them as much as possible.Place the cherries on top of the cream chesse.
- Starting with long end farthest away from you, roll the the dough into a log. Ensure that there are no tears in the dough and that the seams are sealed.
- Line a baking pan with parchment paper. Place the log of dough on the pan forming a circle. Using an oven safe glass bowl, I like to wrap the dough log around it.Spray the outside of the glass bowl with nonstick spray. Place the bowl in the center of the baking sheet. Wrap the dough around the bowl. Using tooth picks or folding the dough ends together to complete the circle. A bowl in the center is not required, but it does great with keeping the shape of the King Cake as it bakes. Tip: if your dough log is a little short when placing it around the bowl, lay it out staight on your work surface and starting at the center with both hands carefully stretch out the dough working your hands towards the ends.
- Cover the King Cake with plastic wrap and a warm towel and proof for another 30-45 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees
- Remove the towel and plastic wrap from the King Cake and bake for 20 minutes. Check at 15 minutes for doneness. The King Cake should be baked until the outside becomes golden brown. Some of the "cherry juice" may seep out. Especially so if there were thin areas in the dough or if the seams were not closed tightly.
- Remove the bowl from the center if used.Transfer the King Cake to a cooling rack on another baking sheet using the parchment paper for the tranfer. Carefully, remove the parchment paper from under the King Cake. Allow any juice to drip out if there were any blow outs in the dough. Allow the King Cake to completely cool.
- Add the powder sugar to a mixing bowl and add 4 Tablespoons of milk. Using a hand electric mixer or with a hand whisk beat the ingredients. Add additional tablespoons of milk until the frosting is a nice pouring consistancy.
- Place a cup of sugar into 3 Ziplock bags. Add food coloring ( yellow/gold, green, and purple) to color the sugar to your liking.
- Rub the outside of the closed bags to mix the color into the sugar. This takes a little bit of time and patients.
- Keeping the King Cake on the cooling rack that is sitting on a baking pan, Ice the cake with the icing and apply the colored sugar to the wet icing. Suggestion, ice small area at a time if you plan on making designs with the icing and sugar. The icing dries quickly and the sugar will not stick to the icing if it has dried.
- Allow the icing to drip and dry on cooling rack.Clean up the edges of the King Cake with a knife.
- Place a plastic baby or bean into the King Cake. You can insert the baby either from the underside of the King Cake or somewhere through the center hole in the King Cake.
I hope you have a cup of coffee ready because you are going to want to dive into this fabulous King Cake right away.
Make sure you tell your guests there is a plastic baby in the cake or bean if you inserted one.
Please share in the comments your thoughts about this King Cake. And of course, I love pictures.