The discussion has been heated at our house lately.
The topic: What makes the perfect King Cake?
My husband hails from a town between Baton Rouge and New Orleans and says that the best kind of king cake is similar to a cinnamon roll. We’ve pored over the Randazzo’s web page (a New Orleans bakery that makes one of the best king cakes) so that he could show me everything that a king cake must be. We learned that one Randazzo bakery uses jimmies sprinkles (the long skinny kind) while another uses nonpareils. And my husband is a purist, so he wants no filling in his homemade king cake. It would ruin the wonderful cake.
But me? I say the best kind is more like a doughnut, a la Meche’s in Lafayette, Louisiana.
But maybe we’re both wrong. Perhaps the best kind of king cake comes from our kitchen.
We’re Cajuns, so not celebrating Mardi Gras would be like an Irish person not celebrating St. Patrick’s Day. It’s just not going to happen. We also believe Mardi Gras doesn’t have to be crazy gross party that some make it out to be.
A lot of people are surprised that I’m Cajun. I have no accent, thanks to spending over half my life in Texas, and I inherited my mom’s half German genes–blonde hair & blue green eyes. But my dad’s side of the family? Totally Cajun. His first language was Cajun French, and he didn’t learn English until he started school.
This isn’t my first attempt at a king cake, but it’s the first time I’ve made one that we loved enough to make again. We asked our friends on Facebook for recipes and this is what we ended up with. Gorgeous, isn’t it?
I used a great cinnamon roll recipe that my friend, April, recommends. Instead of slicing up the roll, form it into a ring like this one and let it rise.
Bake the cake at 350 for 30-40 minutes. Unless you fall asleep at 8:30 pm on a Saturday night, while watching the Olympics and waiting for your king cake to bake. In which case, you’ll end up overcooking it. But who does that?
Once it’s baked, top it with icing. I used the icing recipe from this same cinnamon roll recipe. It calls for cream cheese, which adds a nice level of richness to the cake. You can either color the icing with food coloring or use sprinkles in the traditional Mardi Gras colors, purple, green, and gold. I had to make my own sprinkles using granulated sugar. I always use AmeriColor food coloring because it’s not processed with nuts (see the “nut allergy rules” here). My son’s nut allergies are one big reason why I wanted to master the art of baking a king cake. I have to do all of our cakes.
Here’s the finished product! The lighting in my kitchen made the sprinkles look blue-ish in this photo, but they’re definitely purple. Trust me. Traditionally, you would insert a baby into the cake (or a bean), but we skipped the baby. We’ve got little kids eating our king cake!
Slice it up and enjoy! It’s best with a cup of Louisiana coffee, like Community.
Want more King Cake ideas? Follow my Mardi Gras Pinterest board.
Do you celebrate Mardi Gras? Have you ever had king cake?