It wouldn’t be Mardi Gras without a King Cake or
King cakes commemorate the Epiphany, a celebration of the Wise Men’s discovery of baby Jesus. A small plastic baby is tucked inside the cake, bringing the finder good luck and the task of supplying the next cake. Believe me when I say there will be a next cake, since they are eaten everyday during the season of Epiphany that begins 12 days after Christmas and lasts until Mardi Gras. A tradition I can fully immerse myself in.
Who knows King Cake better than New Orleans native Chef John Besh? No one I know of. Made from a soft, buttery brioche dough with copious amounts of cinnamon and lemon zest, the cinnamon fiend in me rejoiced.
Covered in a confectioners’ sugar icing and decorated with colored sugars to represent justice, faith and power, this is a cake you will revel in eating every day. It is everything anyone could ask for in a coffee cake and more. I don’t think I would get sick of it. In my version there’s a decadent strawberry jam cream cheese filling and half whole wheat flour in the batter. It is the most perfectly delicious thing to accompany a cup of coffee or tea.
Although I’m far from New Orleans, a mere bite of cake magically transported me there, if only in spirit. My heart was glad.
1. Beat cream cheese until light and fluffy, beat in jam and confectioners sugar. Refrigerate.
2. Instead of dividing the dough into 3 pieces, roll into a rectangle on a large floured surface, about 20×15 inches. On one of the longest edges about 3 inches in spoon the cream cheese in an even straight line. Carefully fold dough over the filling and continue until you have a long log.
3. Carefully move to a large, parchment lined baking sheet and form into an oval, pinching ends together well. Bake according to directions in original recipe.
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