Nawlins knows how to party, especially at carnival time! You know you live in a party state when a day of parties, costume and shenanigans is declared a legal holiday!
According to historians, Mardi Gras dates back thousands of years to pagan celebrations of spring and fertility, including the raucous Roman festivals of Saturnalia and Lupercalia. When Christianity arrived in Rome, religious leaders decided to incorporate these popular local traditions into the new faith, an easier task than abolishing them altogether. As a result, the excess and debauchery of the Mardi Gras season became a prelude to Lent, the 40 days of penance between Ash Wednesday and Easter Sunday. Along with Christianity, Mardi Gras spread from Rome to other European countries, including France, Germany, Spain and England.
King Cakes are a vibrant part of the Mardi Gras tradition in New Orleans.
As part of New Orleans' Christian faith, the coming of the wise men bearing gifts to the Christ Child is celebrated twelve days after Christmas. We refer to this as the Feast of the Epiphany, or Little Christmas on the Twelfth Night. This is a time of celebration, exchanging gifts and feasting. Today, the tradition continues as people all over the world gather for festive Twelfth Night celebrations. A popular custom was and still is the baking of a special cake in honor of the three kings, called "A King's Cake."
Prep Time: 3 hr 30 min
Cook Time: 30 min
Serves: 10-12 servings
- 1/2 cup warm water (105 to 115 degrees)
- 2 packages dry yeast
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 4 to 5 cups flour
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
- 1/2 cup warm milk (105 to 115 degrees)
- 1/2 cup melted unsalted butter, cooled
- 5 egg yolks
- 1/2 cup finely chopped candied citron
- 1 pecan half, uncooked dried bean or King Cake Baby
- 2 cups sifted powdered sugar
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons water
- Purple, green and gold sugar crystals
Purple Represents Justice. Green Represents Faith. And Gold Represents Power.
Preheat the oven 350 degrees. Combine the warm water, yeast and 2 teaspoons sugar in a small bowl. Mix well and set aside to a warm place for about 10 minutes. Combine the 4 cups of flour, 1/2 cup sugar, salt, nutmeg, lemon rind and add warm milk, melted butter, egg yolks and yeast mixture. Beat until smooth. Turn dough out on a lightly floured surface. Knead in enough remaining flour until the dough is no longer sticky. Continue kneading until the dough is smooth and elastic (about 10 minutes). Place the dough in a well-greased bowl. Turn once so greased surface is on top.
Cover the dough and let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk (about 1 1/2 hours). Punch the dough down and place on a lightly floured surface. Sprinkle with the citron and knead until the citron is evenly distributed. Shape the dough into a cylinder, about 30 inches long. Place the cylinder on a buttered baking sheet. Shape into a ring, pinching ends together to seal. Place a well-greased 2-pound coffee can or shortening can in the center of the ring to maintain shape during baking. Press the King Cake Baby, pecan half or dried bean into the ring from the bottom so that it is completely hidden by the dough. Cover the ring with a towel, and let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 45 minutes.
Bake for 30 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove the coffee can immediately. Allow the cake to cool. For the glaze: Combine the ingredients and beat until smooth. To assemble, drizzle cake with the glaze. Sprinkle with sugar crystals, alternating colors. Cut into the cake and hope you do not get the baby.
Two things are for sure during Mardi Gras, there will be a King Cake at every turn and a beautiful Mardi Gras poster to proudly display on your wall. Get your copy of the Andrea Mistretta 2013 Mardi Gras Poster today! http://www.totallynawlins.com/2013-Mardi-Gras-Poster-by-Andrea-Mistretta_p_290.html
No matter where you live, now you can enjoy traditional Louisiana fare. We carry a wide range of New Orleans culinary delights, including chicory coffee, Barq’s Red Cream Soda and a large selection of New Orleans gift items. Call us today at (985) 377-9253 or visit our website for more information.