I love Mardi Gras season! The colors, the parades and the happiness in the air – it reminds me of my childhood.
Growing up in Venezuela, Carnival was a big deal; the entire country would go into party mood for a few weeks. The streets fill with glitter, feathers, necklaces, dancing, and masks; and schools would host festivals where we prepared special songs or dances. It was the only day of the year we all got to put on costumes.
The first time I traveled to Louisiana (more than a decade ago), just happened to be during Mardi Gras season. Seeing all the decorations and happiness naturally made me happy, seeing something so familiar but so different with the unique twists only Louisiana can provide.
When I became a member of the West Baton Rouge community, I was introduced to the celebrations in Port Allen. I went to the Krewe of the Good Friends of the Oaks parade. I was filled with joy seeing the floats ride through the beautiful oak-laden streets as I saw smiling faces, some familiar but most unfamiliar. I witnessed entire families enjoying the festivities together, colorful cars, music and laughter—everything brought back great memories from my childhood and made me feel welcomed.
Another thing I love about Mardi Gras season is the food, especially the King Cake! This is the time of the year when so many things have that wonderful sweet cinnamon taste.
Because this year the celebrations are different due to the pandemic, I wanted to share this recipe with much love and respect. I encourage you to try to make your own king cake at home, and have fun baking with your dear ones!
Homemade Mardi Gras King Cake
2 1/4 cups hot water
4 1/2 tsp of active yeast (2 packets)
3 Tbsp of sugar
1 tsp of salt
3 Tbsp of butter
5 1/2 to 6 cups of all-purpose flour (if possible, bakers’ flour)
1/2 cup butter, melted
2 cup brown sugar (tightly squeezed into the cup)
8 tsp of cinnamon.
4 Cups of powdered sugar
6 Tbsp of milk
2 Tbsp butter, melted
1 tsp of vanilla extract
Sugar sprinkles (also called sanding sugar)
In a large dish add warm water and yeast. Do not stir, just leave it for a minute to soak.
After the minute, slowly add sugar, salt, butter and flour, and beat until well combined and continue beating for a few more minutes.
Spread a little flour on a flat surface (table) and roll out the dough in a rectangle less than ¾ inch thick (about ½ cm).
Spread the melted butter all over the rectangle of dough and sprinkle the sugar and cinnamon.
Start rolling from one of the long sides, little by little. Squeeze it slightly.
Once you have it rolled, like a log, shape the dough into a long cylinder and join the ends together in the shape of a ring. Place it on a previously greased and floured baking sheet (or with a piece of parchment paper).
Cover with a kitchen cloth and let it rest in a dark place with no airflow for 45 minutes, until it nearly doubles in size.
Prepare your oven to 375° F (190° C) and insert the tray with King Cake. Bake for 20 minutes. (It may be ready a few minutes before, depending on the oven).
While baking, prepare the glaze: in a bowl, mix sugar, milk, melted butter and vanilla in a container. If too thick, add a few more drops of milk.
Once the King Cake is baked, remove from the oven and once it has cooled down, spread the icing, and immediately decorate with colored sugar sprinkles.
Laissez les bons temps rouler!
If you like this recipe, check my authentic Gumbo recipe!