I haven't made a king cake since I lived in New Orleans. Every year since moving back to Panama, my sisters and I say we're going to make king cakes and we never do. This year, Michelle and I decided we would have a proper mardi gras celebration with king cake and all...and here it is!
- 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 pound cream cheese, at room temperatur
- 4 cups confectioner's sugar
- 1 pecan half, uncooked dried bean or King Cake Baby
- 2 tablespoons milk
- 3 cups sifted powdered sugar
- 3 tablespoons lemon juice
- 3 tablespoons milk
- Purple, green and gold sugar crystals
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 4 cups of the 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).
Meanwhile, make the filling. In a large mixing bowl, combine the cream cheese and 1 cup of the confectioner's sugar. Blend by hand or with an electric mixer on low speed. Set aside.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Using your fingers, pat it out into a rectangle about 30 inches long and 6 inches wide.
Spread the filling lengthwise over the bottom half of the dough, then flip the top half of the dough over the filling. Seal the edges, pinching the dough together. Shape the dough into a cylinder and place it on the prepared baking sheet seam side down. Shape the dough into a ring and pinch the ends together so there isn't a seam. Insert the king cake baby or pecan half into the ring from the bottom so that it is completely hidden by the dough. Place a well-greased 2 pound coffee can or shortening can in the center of the ring to maintain the shape during baking.
Cover the ring with plastic wrap or a clean kitchen towel and place in a warm, draft-free place. Let the dough rise until doubled in size, about 45 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Brush the top of the risen cake with 2 tablespoons milk. Bake until golden brown, 25 to 30 minutes. Remove from the oven, remove coffee can immediately, and let cool completely on a wire rack.
Make the icing. Combine 3 tablespoons milk, the lemon juice, and the remaining 3 cups confectioner's sugar in medium-size mixing bowl. Stir to blend well. With a rubber spatula, spread the icing evenly over the top of the cake. Sprinkle with the sugar crystals, alternating colors around the cake.
Cut into the cake and hope you do not get the baby.