Mardi Gras celebrations are heavily associated with New Orleans, and few New Orleans’ Mardi Gras traditions are as recognized as traditional King Cake! This delicious sweet bread recipe stems from an older French recipe, with the trio of royal icing colors traditionally represented on the King Cake signifying justice (purple), faith (green), and power (gold). For extra authenticity, you can hide a tiny, oven-safe baby in the King Cake, as finding it in your slice is a sign of good luck and prosperity for the year to come. King Cake is royally good and is sure to get your own party going!
Ingredients• 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons milk, separated • 2 (0.25 ounce) packages active dry yeast • 1/2 cup white sugar • 5 egg yolks • 1/2 cup butter, melted • 4 cups all-purpose flour • 2 teaspoons salt • 1 teaspoon nutmeg • 1 teaspoon lemon zest • 1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese • 2 1/2 cup powdered sugar, separated • 1/4 cup lemon juice • 1 small plastic non-toxic baby toy • 1 tablespoon multicolored candy sprinkles
Warm 1 cup of the milk in the microwave or on the stovetop to approximately 110 degrees F.
Pour the warmed milk into a large mixing bowl.
Dissolve the yeast and the white sugar in the warm milk.
Let the milk mixture stand until the texture looks creamy, about 10 minutes.
Add the egg yolks and melted butter into the milk mixture and stir to combine.
In a separate mixing bowl, combine the flour, salt, nutmeg, and lemon zest.
Using an electric mixer, beat the flour mixture into the milk mixture 1 cup at a time.
Once a dough has formed, transfer it onto a lightly floured flat surface and knead by hand until it is smooth, which should take about 8 minutes.
Lightly oil a large mixing bowl, and place the dough into the bowl, turning it to coat the dough with oil.
Cover the bowl with a damp cloth and let the dough rise in a warm place until it has doubled in volume, about 2 hours.
Using a small mixing bowl, combine the cream cheese and 1/2 cup of the powdered sugar.
In another small mixing bowl, combine the remaining 2 cups of powdered sugar, lemon juice, and the remaining 2 tablespoons of the milk. Set the glaze aside.
Once the dough has risen, turn it out onto a floured flat surface.
Using a rolling pin, roll out the dough into a 6x30-inch rectangle.
Spread the cream cheese filling across the center of the dough.
Then, bring the two long edges of the dough together and seal it along the edges completely.
Shape the dough into a long cylinder-like shape by hand and put it on a greased baking sheet, seam-side down.
Shape the dough into a ring and press the baby into the ring from the bottom so that it is completely hidden by the dough. Place a well-greased 2-pound metal coffee can in the center of the ring to keep the shape during baking.
Cover the ring with a towel and place it in a warm place to rise until it has doubled in size, about 45 minutes.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Finally, place the cake into the preheated oven until it is golden brown, about 30 minutes.
Remove the coffee can and let the bread cool.
Drizzle the cooled cake with the lemon/sugar glaze and decorate with candy sprinkles.
Slice into 12 sections and serve. Make sure you warn your guests to be on the lookout for the toy!