It’s easy enough to find Louisiana king cakes online. Where it’s really hard to find a king cake is here. But you can always make your own in time for Fat Tuesday — here’s how.
By J. Miller, Special to The Post
A couple of weeks before Mardi Gras, which arrives on Feb. 25 this year, I start to crave a proper king cake. Over the years, my mom has tried different tactics to help me out, the most unsuccessful being the time she mailed me one and it arrived a few days later with mold all over it.
She has brought many a king cake on planes and in cars. My greatest contribution to all her efforts has been to decide how many cakes I ask her to bring.
My childhood memories of Mardi Gras aren’t from New Orleans but from small-town South Louisiana: visiting with family, running with my dad from one street to the next to catch the same parade and, of course, king cake. Where I’m from, king cake is a brioche-style bread that’s filled with a variety of ingredients, the most popular ones being cinnamon or cream cheese.
There is one bakery in South Louisiana that offers 36 different combinations of fillings. This king cake is usually available from after Jan. 6 (Three Kings Day) to right before Ash Wednesday. It is topped with icing that is either made from powdered sugar or cream cheese, and always topped with purple, green and gold sugar. These colors are said to represent justice, faith and power respectively. But as a kid, the most important element of the king cake was none of the above — it was the plastic baby tucked inside the cake. It represented the baby Jesus. Whoever got the baby was supposed to host the next Mardi Gras party and buy the next king cake, but I never knew of anyone ever caring about that. Every kid wanted to get the baby.
These days it’s easy enough to order king cakes online. A couple of good choices for bakeries are Gambino’s (gambinos.com) in New Orleans, Cannata’s in Houma (cannataskingcakes.com), and, where I like to get my king cakes (thanks, Mom!), Poupart’s in Lafayette (poupartsbakery.com).
Where it’s really hard to find a king cake is here. After calling around to many local bakeries, I found three places where you can get a king cake. The first is Bakery of France in Boca Raton (bakery-of-france.com). But there’s a catch: Their king cake is not the Louisiana version, but the traditional French cake called galette de rois that’s actually a puff pastry with almond paste filling. I have had this style cake and, while it’s delicious, it isn’t what I’m used to. If you’d like one of these desserts, you need to order it from them at least three days in advance. It serves five to six and sells for $32.
Publix offers three different king cake fillings: strawberry, cream cheese and cinnamon. These sell for $10.99 each and will be available in most Palm Beach County stores in limited amounts from Feb. 17 through 26. At Whole Foods, two options are offered: chantilly and cinnamon. Their cakes, available now in Palm Beach County stores, sell for $14.99 each. Both Publix and Whole Foods king cakes come with a tiny plastic baby.
So, you’ve got online ordering, Publix, Whole Foods and, if all else fails, my mom.
But you can always try your hand at making one. It’s a process but there is a light at the end of the tunnel: The end result is a delicious, sugary-sweet bread and major bragging rights that you made your own.
This year, I tried a recipe I found in The Local Palate magazine by Maggie Scales, executive pastry chef of the Link Restaurant Group in New Orleans, which includes Cochon restaurant. (Local foodies might recognize Cochon because chef/co-owner Stephen Stryjewski is a frequent participant in the annual Palm Beach Food and Wine Festival).
This recipe proved to be a big hit with my family. After making it a couple of times, I’ve decided it is the only king cake recipe I will ever need. It calls for few ingredients and is pretty forgiving. Best of all, it makes my mom’s life much easier when my king cake cravings hit.
KING CAKE RECIPE
Adapted from a recipe by Maggie Scales, executive pastry chef of La Boulangerie and Cochon Butcher in New Orleans.
Makes 2 individual king cakes
For the butter brioche:
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups bread flour
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon yeast
6 each eggs
2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
For cinnamon filling:
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, room temperature
For king cake icing:
2 cups powdered sugar
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Make butter brioche:
1. Place all brioche ingredients except butter in a stand mixer with paddle attachment, and mix on low speed for 5 minutes.
2. With mixer running, slowly add small amounts of butter until completely incorporated into dough.
3. Continue to mix in on low speed for 5 minutes. After 5 minutes, scrape the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula.
4. Increase mixer speed to medium and blend for an additional 5 minutes. After 5 minutes, scrape the sides of the bowl with the spatula. Increase mixer to high speed and mix until dough is strong, shiny and clings to paddle, approximately 5 minutes.
5. Place dough in a bowl sprayed with non-stick spray and wrap well with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 6 hours.
Make cinnamon filling:
Combine all cinnamon filling ingredients in mixer and, using the paddle attachment, mix until the butter has disappeared.
Make king cake icing:
Combine all king cake icing ingredients in mixer bowl and, using the paddle attachment, mix until smooth.
Prepare the king cakes:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Divide chilled dough into 2 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a rectangle about -inch thick. Liberally apply cinnamon filling.
3. Roll up each strip into a rope, pinching dough gently to keep it rolled up. Bring dough together into a ring shape, tucking one end into the other and pinching edges together.
4. Place each ring onto a parchment-lined sheet pan and cover with a tea towel. Let rise in a warm spot, around 80 degrees, until doubled in size, around 2 to 3 hours.
5. Place in the oven and bake until light golden in color, approximately 20 to 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool at room temperature.
6. Drizzle with icing, and decorate with festive sanding sugars. Serve.
J. Miller, a West Palm Beach photographer and writer, is on Instagram @SouthofSouthern. For more food and dining news, subscribe to our weekly “At the Table” newsletter by Post food and dining editor Liz Balmaseda.
Source: Thanks https://www.palmbeachpost.com/entertainment/20200217/king-cake-for-mardi-gras-where-to-find-one-how-to-bake-one