King Cake

Makes 1 king cake. Recipe is from “Tell Me More: A Cookbook Spiced With Cajun Traditions and Food Memories” by the Junior League of Lafayette, Inc.

Brioche dough:

1/2 cup lukewarm water (110 degrees to 115 degrees)

2 packages dry yeast

41/2 to 51/2 cups sifted flour

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon grated lemon rind

1/2 cup lukewarm milk

3 eggs

4 eggs yolks

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons butter, softened

1 egg. lightly beaten with 1 tablespoon milk

1 dime or uncooked dried bean or miniature doll

1. Soften yeast in water.

2. Combine flour, sugar, nutmeg and salt in mixing bowl. Stir in lemon rind.

3. Make a well in center and pour into it the yeast mixture and milk.

4. Add eggs and egg yolks and with a large wooden spoon gradually incorporate dry ingredients into liquid ones. Beat in 1/2 cup butter and continue beating until dough forms ball. (Mixing of the dough can be done in food processor.)

5. Place ball on floured board and incorporate more flour if necessary, by sprinkling it over ball by the tablespoon. Knead until smooth and elastic.

6. Brush inside of large bowl with 1 tablespoon softened butter. Set dough in bowl and turn it so as to butter entire surface.(At this point you can refrigerate dough overnight.)

7. Cover bowl and set aside for 11/2 hours or until doubled in bulk. Brush a large baking sheet with remaining butter. Punch dough down on lightly floured surface. Knead, then pat and shape dough into a cylinder about 14 inches long.

8. Place on baking sheet and form into a ring. Press bean or dime or doll into dough so that it is hidden. Set aside again to rise. When ready to bake, brush the top and sides of the ring with the egg-milk mixture.

9. Bake King Cake in middle of oven at 375 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes, or until golden brown. Slide cake onto wire rack to cool.

Sugars:

Green, purple and yellow food coloring pastes

12 tablespoons granulated sugar

1. Prepare the colored sugars by squeezing a dab of green paste into the palm of one hand. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of sugar over the paste and rub your hands together to color the sugars evenly.

2. Set aside in small bowl and repeat process with green, then twice with purple and yellow.

Keep colored sugars in separate bowls; do not mix sugars.

Icing:

3 cups confectioners’ sugar

1/4 cup strained fresh lemon juice

3 to 6 tablespoons water

2 candied cherries, halved lengthwise

1. When the cake has cooled, prepare the icing. Combine the confectioners’ sugar, lemon juice and 3 tablespoons of water in a deep bowl and stir until the icing mixture is smooth. If too stiff to spread, beat in 1 teaspoonful water at a time, until desired consistency is reached. With a small metal spatula, spread the icing over the top of the cake, allowing it to run down the sides.

2. Sprinkle the colored sugars over the icing immediately, forming a row of purple, yellow and green stripes, each about 2 inches wide, on both sides of the ring. Arrange two cherry halves at each end of the cake, pressing them gently into the icing.

Note: Do not use liquid food coloring to color the sugar; it will make the sugar dissolve.