Traditional Mardi Gras King Cake {by Mr. Sweets and Whimsy!}

King cake gets its name from the three kings who visited Jesus when he was a toddler. King cake is part of the celebration of Epiphany, which ends when Lent begins. That’s why everyone tries to finish off all the rich and luxurious foods that they won’t be able to consume during Lent. King cake is a great way to celebrate Fat Tuesday, with it’s brioche-like, eggy, buttery texture and crispy crust. Not to mention the lemon icing and the brightly colored sugars!

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First, combine two packets of active dry yeast with one half cup warm water and two teaspoons sugar.

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It will begin to foam and after a few minutes it will double in volume.

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 While you’re waiting for the yeast to foam up, combine three and a half cups flour, one half cup sugar, one teaspoon nutmeg, two teaspoons salt, and one teaspoon grated lemon zest. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients.

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 Pour one half cup warm milk and the yeast mixture into the well in the dry ingredients. Add five egg yolks and gradually stir in the dry ingredients a little at a time.

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 Add eight tablespoons (one stick) softened butter, one tablespoon at a time as you stir the dough.

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 Turn the dough out of the mixing bowl onto a floured work surface when it is firm and elastic. Knead the dough while sprinkling in up to one cup more of flour, one tablespoon at a time. Knead ten minutes more until the dough is shiny and elastic.

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 Coat the inside of a large bowl with softened butter, …

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 … then place the dough in the bowl and roll it around to coat it. Cover with a towel and leave in a warm spot to rise until it doubles in volume, about one and a half hours.

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 When the dough has risen, punch it down with your fist, then sprinkle one teaspoon cinnamon over it. Shape it into a cylinder, then twist it and form it into a ring on a baking sheet that has been brushed with softened butter.

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 Place the shaped dough in a warm place until doubled in volume, about forty-five minutes.

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 When it’s finished proofing, brush it with an egg beaten with one tablespoon milk. Put it in a 375 degree oven for 25 to 35 minutes.

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 While the bread is baking, make the icing. Combine three cups of powdered sugar, one quarter cup lemon juice, and three tablespoons of water. 

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 If the icing is too thick, add a little more water until it is just pourable.

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 Next, make the colored sugars. Measure one quarter cup granulated sugar into each of three small glass bowls. To one of the bowls, add two drops of green food coloring, then mix until thoroughly combined. In the next bowl, add two drops of yellow food coloring and mix. In the third bowl, add one drop of blue food coloring and two drops of red and mix.

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 The bread is finished cooking when it is golden brown. Set it on a wire rack to cool completely before proceeding.

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 Drizzle the icing over the cake. Don’t be shy!

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 Sprinkle the colored sugars on in alternating stripes.

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All ready to eat! Don’t forget to finish it before the end of Fat Tuesday!

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