Mardi Gras season is in full swing! Fat Tuesday is on February 21st this year and I’m sure I’ll take the girls to at least one parade. Here’s a little known fact about me: I was born in New Orleans and lived there until I was four. For years, I believed that I was in an actual Mardi Gras parade. I distinctly remember walking up and down the streets of downtown New Orleans. Turns out, what I actually remembered was a parade at my preschool where we marched around the building. Oh well. I do remember my sister finding the baby in the king cake when she was two and thinking it was a huge deal and she was going to have good luck for life or possibly get some amazing present.
For the last few years, I’ve made my dad’s jambalaya on Fat Tuesday and we’ve had some kind of King Cake for dessert. I’ve tried cakes from the bakery, cakes from mixes, and last year, I tried one from scratch. It turned out really, really good. The cake part was the perfect texture and I really liked the filling. (Steve wasn’t too big a fan of the filling, so this year I might try a different type)
I let Abigail and her friend help me make it and they had a great time. I think some of the best childhood memories are made in the kitchen. I used to love my Daddy make homemade pasta and string it up across the kitchen to dry.
Here’s the recipe that I used (modified slightly from Taste of Home):
1 package of active dry yeast
1/2 cup warm milk
1/3 cup butter-flavored shortening
1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cans of almond cake and pastry filling
For the glaze:
3 cups of powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
3 to 4 tablespoons water
Purple, green and gold sugar for decorating – to make the sugars, I just used white sparkling sugar and a little food coloring to make the colors I wanted. Finding purple, green, and gold sugar was difficult around here for some reason!
In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Add the milk, shortening, sugar, salt, egg and 2 cups of the flour. Beat on medium speed until smooth. Stir in enough remaining flour to form a soft dough (dough will be sticky).
Turn onto a floured surface; knead until smooth (about 6 minutes). Place in a greased bowl, turning once to grease top. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour.
Punch dough down. Turn onto a lightly floured surface; divide in half. Roll one portion into a 16-in. x 10-in. rectangle. Spread almond filling to within 1/2 in. of edges. Roll up jelly-roll style, starting with a long side; pinch seam to seal. Place seam side down on a greased baking sheet; pinch ends together to form a ring. Repeat with remaining dough and filling. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 1 hour.
Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on a wire rack. For glaze, combine the confectioners’ sugar, vanilla and enough water to achieve desired consistency. Spread over cooled cakes. Sprinkle with colored sugars.