I had the best time learning how to make traditional king cakes with my very special son at his cooking class. I’ve not had the chance to see him in action since he began this course last August. Talk about impressive! From the cooking lab to the teachers, they are top-notch.
Miah was a great teacher, and I was there to learn all I could. Amazingly enough, I actually did learn a thing or two. For example, did you know that you must wash your hands for at least 20 seconds after you put on your apron and before you start cooking? He also taught me to use a scoop to put flour into the measuring cup because scooping with the measuring cup compacts the flour, which can make the dough too dry. He taught me how to crack an egg with a knife and to crack each one into a separate bowl just in case there are baby chicken parts in the egg. (I have to admit, even though I’ve had home-grown eggs, I’ve not encountered that yet, but the teacher said they have.)
Enough bragging about Miah and on to the recipe. Because the class only meets for two hours, we split the work into two days. That allowed the dough to do a “cool rise” in the refrigerator overnight. You will most likely do a warm rise, as the recipe instructs.
Traditional King Cake
The traditional Mardi Gras treat! (Delicious any time)
- 4 3/4 cups all-purpose flour (divided)
- 1 cup granulated sugar (divided)
- 1 1/2 tsp . salt
- 2 oz envelopes/packets rapid-rise yeast (1/4 .)
- 3/4 butter (divided)
- 3/4 cup milk
- 2 large eggs
- 1 Tbsp . ground cinnamon
- 2 cups sifted powdered sugar
- 3 Tbsp . milk
- Colored sugars (green, purple, yellow)
- Combine 1/1/2 cups flour, 1/4 cup sugar, salt, and yeast in large bowl.
- Melt 1/2 cup butter in a small saucepan over low heat. Add 3/4 milk and 1/2 cup water, and heat until hot (120 to 130 degrees). Add milk mixture to flour mixture and beat at medium speed with an electric mixer 2 minutes. Add eggs, beating well. Mix in remaining 3 1/4 cups flour. Turn dough out onto a well-floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic (about 10 minutes). (Or if you use a stand mixer, use a dough hook and knead until dough pulls completely away from sides and bottom of bowl.)
- Place dough in a well-greased bowl, turning to grease the top. Cover and let rise in a warm place (85 degrees), free from drafts, 45 minutes or until doubled in bulk.
- Stir together remaining 3/4 cup sugar and cinnamon
- Preheat oven to 375. Punch dough down and let dough rise 6 minutes. Divide dough into 3 equal portions. Roll each portion into a 28 x 4-inch rectangle. Melt remaining 3/4 cup butter and brush down the center of each rectangle, leaving a 1-inch margin around the edges. Sprinkle the butter with 3/4 sugar mixture.
- Roll up each dough rectangle, jelly-roll fashion, starting on the long side, pinch edges together at top to seal. Pinch 3 ropes together at one end to seal and then braid. Cover and let rise in a warm place (85), free from drafts, for 15 minutes or until doubled in bulk.
- Bake at 375 for 18-20 minutes or until golden. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
- Combine powdered sugar and 3 Tbsp. milk in a small bowl, stirring until smooth. Drizzle over cake and sprinkle with colored sugars.
Traditionally, a tiny plastic baby is inserted somewhere in the cake before baking. The person who gets the piece of cake with the baby has to provide the king cake for the next Mardi Gras gathering. The babies are no longer baked into the cakes, and I invite you to read more about that here.
This is a wonderful version of the traditional king cake. No fancy fillings. Just cinnamon-y goodness. This goes wonderful as a dessert or fantastic as a coffee cake.
Miah was so proud to be able to teach me how to make king cakes, and I was equally as proud to learn from him and see him working alongside his classmates, not only cooking, but cleaning up, doing dishes, and sweeping in preparation for the next group.
As a welcome to the new look, how about a gift? All comment authors will be entered in a random drawing to receive a package of King Cake flavored coffee from PJ’s Coffee, a Louisiana company. Get your comments in by Saturday!
Now, get cracking and let us know how you and yours enjoyed this traditional recipe or pin it to save for later.