A Mardi Gras specialty is King’s Cake. It is a circular sweet roll-like cake with a hidden treasure, a tradition that originated during the medieval times. Originally a gold bean was baked inside but today, to avoid choking, a plastic baby is placed inside instead. This recipe uses a pecan half as the treasure.
3-1/2 cups all-purpose flour (plus more for kneading)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 teaspoons salt
4-1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1 cup lukewarm water
5 egg yolks
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup finely chopped dried fruit
1 pecan half
egg wash: 1 egg, lightly whisked with 1 tablespoon milk
colored sugar, purple, green, and yellow*
3 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
3 tablespoons water
Combine together flour, sugar, nutmeg, salt, yeast, and lemon zest.
In second bowl, combine the warm water and egg yolks.
Add to flour mixture.
Blend in the softened butter and chopped fruit.
Turn out onto a floured surface.
Knead the mixture about 10 minutes until smooth and satiny adding flour as needed.
Butter a mixing bowl and place the dough in it, cover and let rise in a warm place about 1-1/2 hours.
Punch down the dough and shape it into a log about 14 inches long.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper; place the log on the parchment in a circle/wreath shape. Pinch the ends closed.
Press the pecan half gently into the ring so that it is completely hidden.
Drape the dough with a cloth and set it in a draft-free place to rise for about 45 minutes.
Preheat oven to 375°F.
Brush the surface with the egg wash.
Bake 30 minutes.
Slide the cake onto a wire rack to cool to room temperature.
Make icing by combining powdered sugar, lemon juice, and water to a pourable consistency.
Pour over allow to run down the sides.
Immediately sprinkle the colored sugars, form rows of purple, yellow, and green.
* You can purchase sugar in many colors or make your own sugar with a little paste food coloring.