Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Mardi Gras King Cake with Pecan Praline Filling

Mardi Gras King Cake - a tender pastry dough, stuffed with a pecan praline filling, glazed and decorated with tinted sugars.

Mardi Gras King Cake

It's Twelfth Night - or it will be at sunset today. Yep. And... before you know it, they're everywhere! No matter where you go they will be in your face. You can't escape them. They scream at you from far and near. What am I talking about you say?

Plastic babies? In bags? With colored beads?

It must be ...

Gotta be ...

King Cake Time!

Luscious, cinnamon sweet dough, generally filled with cream cheese or some kind of fruity filling or both, shaped into a ring and sprinkled with sugars in the colors of Mardi Gras - purple, green and gold, representing justice, faith and power. (And, yes, yes, I know... these are nothing like European king cakes.)

Carnival Season means it's King Cake time!

One of the most popular customs for Twelfth Night is baking of a special cake in honor of the three kings - "a King's Cake." While Europeans hide a bean inside their cake and the person receiving the bean must portray one of the kings, those of the Latin-American culture place a small figure inside the cake representing the Christ Child. It is said that the year of good fortune awaits the lucky person who gets the figure.

In our coastal counties of Mississippi, Louisiana, and Alabama, we have carried that further to mean not only will that the person who receives the piece with the plastic baby trinket tucked inside be ensured a lucky year, but they are also obligated to continue the festivities by hosting another party and of course, another king cake!

These Mardi Gras king cakes make their appearance at the beginning of Carnival Season which starts officially on the eve of January 5th, or Twelfth Night. As soon as you walk into the local market you are hit with huge displays of these lovely sugary concoctions, in all manner of fillings for every appetite. And while yes, even though these are pretty yummy, and Gambinos over in New Orleans are delicious, my personal favorites come locally from Paul's Pastry Shop over in Picayune, Mississippi - right at the Louisiana border. Their dough is much more tender and delicious than any supermarket cake - and Paul's are always fresher tasting. They are just the best!

Heck you can even pick up a Paul's Pastry king cake at local Fayards BP gas stations, but ya gotta get 'em early because they go fast. I love the berry ones the most - strawberry, blueberry, raspberry - the combo berry, is excellent - but then the Mississippi Mud king cake and the Pecan Praline king cake are awesome too! So many to decide from. In case you decide to have a little Mardi Gras party of your own, or just want to treat your friends or family to a very special treat, check out their menu!

Of course you can also always make your own. This one requires an overnight refrigeration but it is worth the planning.
♕  Looking for more Mardi Gras party food ideas? Click right here!

A beautiful picture of this King Cake recipe, shared by Tami R., one of our Facebook family and photographed by her daughter, of Hannah Rhymes Photography!

If you make this or any of my recipes, I'd love to see your results! Just snap a photo and hashtag it #DeepSouthDish on social media or tag me @deepsouthdish on Instagram!


Recipe:  Mardi Gras King Cake with Pecan Praline Filling

©From the Kitchen of Deep South Dish
Prep time: 15 min |Cook time: 30 min | Yield: About 8 to 10 servings


For the King Cake
  • 1 envelope active yeast
  • Pinch of sugar
  • 2 tablespoons of warm water (about 110 degrees)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/4 cup of milk
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup of cold butter, cut into small cubes
  • Egg wash (1 beaten egg with couple tablespoons of water)
  • Yellow, green and purple colored sugars, recipe below
  • Praline Filling, recipe below
  • Sugar Glaze, recipe below
  • 1 plastic baby and a variety of Mardi Gras trinkets
For the Praline Filling
  • 1/4 cup of unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 1 cup of chopped pecans
  • 1/2 cup of light brown sugar, packed
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon of allspice
  • 1 teaspoon of cinnamon
For the Tinted Sugars
  • 3 small lidded jars
  • 1-1/2 cups of granulated sugar
  • Green, yellow, red and blue food coloring
Sugar Glaze
  • 1/2 cup of confectioners sugar
  • 1 tablespoon of fresh lemon juice -OR-
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

For the cake, dissolve the yeast in the warm water, adding a pinch of sugar. Let stand about 5 minutes or until it gets foamy. In a separate bowl, mix the salt and sugar with the milk until dissolved. Add the yeast.

Sift the flour and cinnamon together and add to a mixer bowl. Using a dough hook, add in yeast and then the eggs, one at a time, until fully incorporated. Knead on low for about 10 minutes or until it forms into a smooth dough, adding additional flour if needed. Add in the pieces of butter and mix just until they are incorporated. You want there to be small chunks of butter in the dough.

Turn out into a greased bowl, cover loosely with plastic wrap and set in a warm spot until doubled. Punch it down, cover well and refrigerate overnight.

When ready to bake, prepare the praline filling; set aside. On a piece of parchment paper, roll the dough into a rectangle about 6 inches wide and 18 inches in length. Spread the filling, leaving about an inch of the edge free. Fold the dough over, press the edges together, and then roll up very tight. Bring the ends together to form a circle with the seam side down, tucking one end into the other. Transfer the paper to a baking sheet and cover loosely with plastic wrap. Leave in a warm, draft free area to rise about an hour or until doubled.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Brush the cake generously with the egg wash and bake for about 30 minutes or until lightly browned; set aside to cool. Tuck the baby into a spot on the bottom of the cake once cooled.

For the tinted sugars, divide the sugar evenly between the three jars. Add 2 drops of green in one jar, 2 drops of yellow in another and 2 drops each of red and blue to form purple in the last jar. Put the lids on and shake until the color is well blended, using additional food coloring for richer colors. Set aside.

For the glaze, whisk together the sugar and lemon juice until smooth. Note: This is meant for a very light coating of glaze. If you want thicker glaze just double or triple the recipe. Drizzle the glaze over the top of the cake. Sprinkle one section of the cake with the green sugar, another with yellow and the last with the purple. Repeat in threes around cake as desired. Place cake onto a serving platter and if desired, decorate the center and the platter with a variety of Mardi Gras trinkets - doubloons and beads.

Source: http://deepsouthdish.com

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©Deep South Dish
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Check These Recipes Out Too Y'all!

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Posted by on January 5, 2010
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  1. I'm suppose to be on a diet. lol This cake sounds wonderful, hard to go wrong with the pecan filling.

  2. It is so festive looking. I have never tried to make a king cake. Thanks for sharing the recipe.

  3. Ive nevr had one of these delicious looking cakes, but I always enjoy looking at how pretty they are!

  4. This looks festive and delicious! Thanks for sharing :)

  5. I had the best King cake that one of my students from New Orleans brought to me last year. I got to taste the real thing. I have no doubt in my mind that your recipe will surpass my expectations of this wonderful treat! Thanks for sharing! Roz

  6. Oh P.S....the one and only Mardi Gras party that I ever went to, had a King cake for dessert and I got the baby Jesus inside the cake. So although very long overdue, I guess it's time for me to throw a party, huh? Roz

  7. All of this twevleth night, king cake, Mardi Gras stuff totally intrigues me. Bein' a midwestern girl, I'm pretty much clueless to these culinary and cultural traditions indigenous to your part of the South. I love learning about it, though! The king cake sounds amazing and it's so colorful and festive!

  8. I am saving all things Cajun right now...Planning my mardi gras party now, and this is perfect timing

  9. Jim-49 said
    Mary, I got too much to do now,and look what you done started!! That looks so good,with a cold glass of milk,it would be great,no super!! I will have to try,maybe tomarrow!! Thanks,for making me,so want some,while working,know what I'm thinking!!! "KING CAKE"!!!

  10. This cake looks great! Stopping by from SITS!

  11. I wanted to make one of these, but as in a lot of things I'd love to make, it's just me and hubby to eat the food and something like this would be around for months! Ha!

  12. Wish I was there eating King Cake! What a fascinating history and tradition surrounding the king cake.

  13. Such a fun post!
    I love King cakes, love the tradition and gaudy as they are, love the taste!
    Long live Mardi Gras!

  14. this looks so good, I have always wanted to do one of these.

  15. Oh yum!!!! I found you through your comment on the SITS blog! I'm sugar deprived right now and seeing your blog title had me hopping right over here!

    I love how you included the history on the King Cake. I have never been to New Orleans so I've never had the Mardi Gras experience Louisiana Style!

    Though I have been lucky enough to get some good ole sweets from my Twitter pal @sweetpotatopies

    Have an awesome day....when I can eat sugar again (that date to be determined by my Wii Fit) I'll be sure to make this recipe!

  16. Just beautiful! I never considered making my own King Cake, but I may have to give this a try!

  17. I have never made a King Cake. The first time I ate one was about 10 years ago and I was so surprised that there was a baby inside. I am originally from NY so we never had them in our bakeries and I also had no idea about Mardi Gras when I was growing up. Now I buy one every year to share with my family.

  18. Seriously couldn't just one person say how the recipe came out!!

    1. Hi Roxy! I'm afraid that's the nature of blogs sometimes. Other bloggers often visit just to say hello & those who do make something rarely take the time to come back & say anything. This is a very basic dough & filling so I think you'll be pleased with it & if you do give it a try I hope that you come back & let us know what you think!

  19. I made this recipe today and it it's fabulous! We used to live in NOLA and have had our share of king cakes. A few things: be careful your butter clumps in the dough aren't too big, they caused weakness in my dough and some of the filling leaked out in a couple places. Also, I wish I had gone with the vanilla glaze, I fell like the lemon overpowered the praline too much.

  20. I made this recipe today and it it's fabulous! We used to live in NOLA and have had our share of king cakes. A few things: be careful your butter clumps in the dough aren't too big, they caused weakness in my dough and some of the filling leaked out in a couple places. Also, I wish I had gone with the vanilla glaze, I fell like the lemon overpowered the praline too much.

  21. Mary, what if you don't have a dough hook? I just have a portable mixer.

    1. Hi Bonnie! No problem, you just would have to do the mixing and kneading by hand. Just takes a bit more elbow grease but it will come together. Knead until the dough is elastic and very smooth, like with any bread.

  22. I was looking for something special to serve at a Mardi Gras luncheon at church next month. This looks perfect! I'm sure I just overlooked them, but I couldn't find any instructions for the Praline filling beyond "Prepare the filling and set aside." When I make pralines, I have to cook them, but I'm not sure here. Perhaps you can point me in the right direction?

    1. I know - the instructions are a little wordy aren't they?! If you look just a little bit under that it says "Spread the filling, leaving about an inch of the edge free" is where you add the filling to the homemade dough after you roll it out. You don't need the filling to be hard like praline candy, so you don't have to cook it - the word "praline" here just refers to the type of brown sugar filling. Hope that helps!


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