Every day should be like “The Carnival”, a celebration of LIFE!
Well, there actually are celebrated days or festivities known as “the Carnival” and in New Orleans, they are in full swing. Mardi Gras 2016 has officially started with the first of the “Krewe” parades. The parades are a huge part of the history and traditions associated with Mardi Gras. The “Druids” are the first Krewe of six, to grace the parade routes. The parades play a big part of Mardi Gras and make for all of the parties prior to the actual “Mardi Gras” day!
Among all of the great traditions related to Mardi Gras is the food. There is lots of partying going on down in New Orleans, so you know that there is going to be a lot of great food, too! One of the most famous “food traditions” during the celebration of Mardi Gras is the “King cake”. The “King cake” is like a Danish ring with a doll inside to represent the baby “Jesus” and the person who gets the doll has special privileges and obligations. One obligation is to bring the cake to the next party! The official colors of Mardi Gras–created in 1872 by the Krewe of Rex, are purple for justice, green for faith, and gold for power.
Todays feature is one that has been made for many years. Being culinary trained in New Orleans, it seemed only right that we make this recipe. So here it is, the “Mardi Gras King Cake”, a traditional Danish cake baked with a hidden doll or coin.
Warning, warning Will Robinson: Warn your guest that they might find the doll in the cake, so they don’t choke on it!
- 1 envelope active dry yeast
- 1/4 cup warm water, about 105 to 115 degrees
- 2 tablespoons milk, scalded and cooled
- 4 to 5 cups flour
- 8 ounces butter
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 4 eggs
- 2 teaspoons melted butter
- very small plastic doll, a large bean, or coin
- light corn syrup for topping
- granulated sugar colored with food coloring pastes: green, purple, and yellow
Preparation: Dissolve yeast in warm water and allow to foam. Next add the milk and about 1/2 cup of flour.
In a large bowl, blend butter, sugar, salt and eggs. Add yeast mixture and mix thoroughly. Gradually, add 2 1/2 cups flour to make a medium dough. Place in a greased bowl and brush with melted butter. Cover with a damp cloth and allow to rise until double in volume, about 3 hours.
Remove the dough and on a board, knead the dough, adding more flour, if necessary, to knead dough and make smooth and elastic. Next, roll into a 4 to 5 foot long rope. Form into a oval on a 14 x 17″ greased baking sheet, connecting ends of the rope with a few drops of water to make a good seal. Press the doll, bean, or coin into the dough from bottom. Cover dough ring with a damp cloth and let rise until double in volume, about 1 hour.
Bake at 325° for 35 to 45 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove from the oven and allow to cool. Brush top of cake with corn syrup and sprinkle with alternating bands of colored sugar. You can make the cake in advance and then it can be frozen.
Now this cake is made for sharing, that is the fun of the “doll”. The person who finds the “doll” has to bring the next cake. The tradition is for 12 days long. Since we are in the middle of the celebration, get a baking and invite some friends over. Brew up a little chicory coffee, make some steamed milk and have a “Party!” Life is such a beautiful gift, so celebrate every chance you can and live each moment to the fullest!
You know, that when you bake this cake, you have created a great gift. By sharing this gift you just created another gift, one that is fun to share, because it is something “sweet ” to eat and everybody loves a “Sweet treat” in life. Now because you just created two great gifts, you my friend, are the “King” of this cake! Continue being kind along your journey and as always, remember to SMILE, because someone is always watching! Peace!
The love of one’s country is a splendid thing! But why should LOVE stop at the border? Pablo Casals