Just like everyone is Irish on St. Patrick’s Day and all the world is in love on Valentine’s Day, everybody is part Cajun on Mardi Gras. True, is it not cherè?
Maybe it is the colors that draw us in, the rich purple and green, the flashes of bright gold. Perhaps it is the freedom of a little wine and a lot of good food that calls our spirits. True Mardi Gras has nothing to do with inebriated co-eds flashing their …er… um… cupcakes to earn beads. It is a family-based FREE celebration of joy, fellowship and heritage.
King Arthur Flour’s King Cake mix and King Cake recipe have long been favorites of our customers and we are always on the look out for new King Cake ideas. Our recipe developer Charlotte created a lovely lemon-y dough that rises high and develops a beautiful crown (aargh, bad pun!). The rich texture of a classic King Cake is there, the lemon flavor reminds us that spring is just ’round the corner. Top it all with bright colored sugars and you have individual cakes that make everyone feel like Rex, King of Mardi Gras!
Grab your Krewe, and roll out the Mini King Cakes!
While pre-fermented dough is great, it’s also nice to have some recipes in your stash that you can literally throw all together with a mix and a knead and a hi-hi-ho and come out with a beautiful, tasty dough to work with. This is just such a recipe. I felt a little guilty over not having more step photos, but you really don’t need them. So, into the bowl or bread machine pan dump in:
- 1/2 cup (8 tablespoons) butter, melted
- 3/4 cup lukewarm milk
- 2 large eggs + 1 large egg yolk, white reserved
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup Baker’s Special Dry Milk or nonfat dry milk
- 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/8 teaspoon lemon oil, or 1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
- 3 1/2 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
- 2 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast
- ½ cup Lemon Bits or lemon chips, optional
Use the dough cycle for your mix, knead and first rise, or mix and knead by hand or mixer then allow to rise for one hour.
Turn the risen dough out onto your work surface and pat out to an even thickness. I like a rectangle about 1/2″ thick, maybe as large as a sheet of paper. Divide the dough in half, and then in half, repeating until you have 12 equal portions.
Shape each portion into a smooth ball and place in a greased 12-cup muffin tin, or 12 individual mini bake and give papers. The butter and eggs make this dough a dream to work with. The deep golden color from the yolks is gorgeous too.
Cover the pan, and let the cakes rise for 1 hour. Towards the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 350°F. Whisk the reserved egg white with 1 tablespoon water, and brush it over the cakes.
Bake the cakes for 20 minutes, then tent them lightly with aluminum foil and bake for an additional 20 to 25 minutes, until they’re a deep golden brown.
Remove from the oven and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. If you decide to add the traditional baby to your cakes, you can go with one per cake, or hide just one in the whole batch.
In all honesty, not all of these guys are going to make it to the frosting stage. The scent of these cakes while still warm is truly irresistible. The sweet confectioners’ sugar glaze is literally the icing on the cake, but if you don’t have the time or the inclination, you can definitely savor the cakes “au naturale”.
If you are in the party mood and do want to jazz up the cakes with the traditional colors of the Mardi Gras season just mix up the confectioners’ sugar glaze and break out the colored sugars. We sell the coarse sugars in purple, yellow and green year round, but have also brought in the fine sugars in these 3 colors just for the season. (see top photo for fine sugars).It’s interesting to note that the colors for Mardi Gras were chosen in 1872, but the colors were not assigned symbolism until 20 years later. Officially, the purple stands for justice, the gold/yellow for power and the green for faith.
By the way, if you’d like to learn more about Mardi Gras and the real meanings of the traditions, I found a very informative site at MardiGrasNewOrleans.com. The site is very focused on the traditional and family aspects of the holiday and a great resource. They have the dates of Mardi Gras posted through 2024, giving you plenty of planning notice and time to stock up on your favorite baking supplies in advance!
Please bake, rate and review our recipe for Mini King Cakes.
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