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Happy Mardi Gras!

In celebration of Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday), I made a King Cake! It’s flavor is hard to describe, though wikipedia describes it as a sort of danish. It’s a yeast bread, filled, made into a ring, and covered with a glaze and colored sugars. Being a yeast bread and kind of like a danish makes it a suitable breakfast or dessert in my books! πŸ™‚ Mine didn’t come out as pretty as I hoped, but at least it tasted awesome! For those of you who don’t know, King Cake is part of the tradition of Mardi Gras and Carnival. A fun and festive cake for a fun and festive celebration! In New Orleans, Mardi Gras is full of floats, parades, masquerades, drunken celebration, beads, and coins. Fat Tuesdays refers to the last day before Ash Wednesday and before lent begins, when you can indulge yourself to your hearts content!I’ve been to Mardi Gras once, and I was definitely too young to appreciate it. As in, it actually kind of scared me! I wasn’t a huge fan of crowds, fireworks, loud noises… totally not a good thing in New Orleans around Mardi Gras. My family and I were in town for a family wedding, so might as well celebrate while we’re there, right? So many colors, beads, floats, and people! I at least enjoyed collecting beads from each float. I would love to go back now that I’m older, and can actually drink now (and my childhood fears have gone away)!

Ever since we went, we started ordering a King Cake each year at Mardi Gras. Per our own family tradition, we would order the cream cheese-blueberry filled. It was beautiful, huge, and so delicious! Unfortunately, they started getting to expensive to ship from Louisiana out to California, so we started going without our annual King Cake. Once I went to college, I really started getting into baking and decided to try making a King Cake for the first time. It turned out great, and the shape and everything about it was just perfect.

My very first homemade King Cake, from the college days!

But stupid me… I didn’t save the recipe and the site has long since disappeared. The recipe below is the one I’ve used twice now. The flavor tastes just like I remember, and though I kind of make a mess with the blueberry filling, each year it seems to come out better. This year, it rose a lot and blobbed out, so I decided that next year I’ll make the cake rolls more narrow and longer, which I reflected in the recipe. So, sorry this post was longer than usual, but I hope you have a wonderful Mardi Gras! Throw me some beads, mister! πŸ™‚

Blueberry and Cream Cheese Filled King Cake

Cake:
1 (16-ounce) container sour cream
β…“ cup sugar
ΒΌ cup butter
1 teaspoon salt
2 (ΒΌ-ounce) envelopes active dry yeast
Β½ cup warm water (100Β° to 110Β°)
1 tablespoon sugar
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
6 to 6Β½ cups all-purpose flour

Fillings:
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon milk
1 cup blueberry pie filling, slightly mashed

Glaze:
3 cups powdered sugar
3 tablespoons butter, melted
2 tablespoons lemon juice
ΒΌ teaspoon vanilla extract
2 to 4 tablespoons milk

Colored Sugar Topping:
1Β½ cups granulated sugar, divided
Food coloring (red, blue, green, yellow)

To make the cake: In a medium saucepan over low heat, combine sour cream, β…“ cup sugar, butter, and salt. Cook until butter melts, stirring often. Set aside, and cool mixture to 100-110 degrees F.

In a 1-cup measuring cup, stir together yeast, warm water, and 1 tablespoon sugar; let stand 5 minutes.

In the mixing bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat sour cream mixture, yeast mixture, eggs, and 2 cups flour at medium speed until smooth. Reduce speed to low, and gradually add 4 to 4Β½ cups flour until a soft dough forms. Change to the dough hook and knead until smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. Form dough into a ball and place in a well greased bowl, turning the dough to grease all sides. Cover and let rise in a warm place, free from drafts, 1 hour or until dough is doubled in bulk.

To make cream cheese filling: In a medium bowl, beat cream cheese until smooth. Add powdered sugar, flour, vanilla, and milk and beat until creamy and smooth; set aside.

To make the glaze: In a medium bowl, combine powdered sugar, butter, lemon juice, vanilla, and 2 tablespoons milk. Stir until smooth, adding additional milk 1 teaspoon at a time, until pouring consistency.

To make the colored sugars: Pour Β½ cup sugar into 3 separate sealable sandwich bags. Add 3 to 5 drops of food coloring to separate bags, adding red and blue to the same bag to make purple. Seal the bags and shake to distribute the color, using your fingers to break up any colored clumps of sugar; set aside.

To assemble: Punch down dough, and divide in half. Roll each portion into a 30 x 9-inch rectangle. On one rectangle, spread the cream cheese filling, leaving a 1-inch border. One the other rectangle, spread the blueberry filling, leaving a 1-inch border. Roll up each dough rectangle, jelly-roll fashion, starting at 1 long side. Place dough rolls, seam side down, on a lightly greased baking sheet. Bring ends of both rolls together, and twist the two rolls to form a spiral. Shape the spiral into an oval ring, moistening and pinching edges together to seal. Cover and let rise in a warm place, free from drafts, 20 to 30 minutes or until doubled in bulk.

Bake at 375 degrees F for 20 to 25 minutes, or until golden. Slightly cool cake on the pan on a wire rack, about 10 minutes. Drizzle glaze evenly over warm cake; sprinkle with colored sugars, alternating colors and forming bands. Let cool completely before serving.

Source: Cake adapted from Southern Living, everything else from a source long since lost and forgotten!

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