This New Orleans style King cake is a brioche cake that is traditionally made with a small doll baked into the dough.
•1/2 cup warm water, about 105 to 115 degrees
•2 envelopes active dry yeast
•4 1/2 to 5 1/2 cups sifted flour
•1/2 cup sugar
•1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
•2 teaspoons salt
•1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
•1/2 cup lukewarm milk
•4 egg yolks
•1/2 cup butter, softened
•2 tablespoons butter
•1 egg, lightly beaten with 1 tablespoon milk
•A tiny doll, traditional but optional King Cake Babies
•3 cups confectioner's sugar
•1/4 cup lemon juice, strained
•3 to 5 tablespoons water
•Paste food coloring: purple, green, and yellow
•3/4 cup white sugar
1. Combine yeast and the warm water. Combine flour, sugar, nutmeg and salt in a large mixing bowl. Stir in lemon peel. Make a well in center and add yeast and water mixture, along with milk.
2. Lightly beat the 3 eggs and 4 egg yolks; add to liquid mixture.
3. With a large wooden spoon, slowly incorporate dry ingredients into liquids in the center well.
4. Beat in 1/2 cup of the butter and continue beating until dough forms ball. I recommend a dough hook for beating at this point.
5. Place the ball of dough on floured board and knead until smooth and elastic, incorporating more flour as necessary, a little at a time.
6. Butter the inside of a large bowl with 1 tablespoon of the butter. Place dough in bowl and turn so the entire surface will be buttered Cover bowl and set aside for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, or until doubled in bulk.
7. Brush a large baking sheet with remaining butter.
8. Punch dough down on lightly floured surface. Knead, then pat and shape dough into a cylinder about 14 inches long. Place on baking sheet and form into a ring.
9. Press doll well into dough so that it doesn't show.
10. Set the dough aside again to rise for about 45 to 60 minutes.
11. When ready to bake, brush the top and sides of the ring with the egg-milk mixture.
Bake the King's cake in middle of oven at 375 F for 25 to 30 minutes, or until golden brown. Slide cake onto wire rack to cool.
1. Combine the confectioners' sugar, lemon juice and 3 tablespoons of water in a deep bowl; stir until the icing smooth. If too stiff to spread, beat in 1 teaspoon water at a time, until desired consistency is reached. It should be thin enough to run slowly down the sides of the cake. Spread the icing over the top of the cake, letting it to run down the sides.
2. Squeeze a dab of green paste into the palm of one hand. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of sugar over the paste and rub hands together to color the sugars evenly. Put colored sugar in a cup and repeat process with green, then twice with purple and yellow, putting each color in a separate cup.
Sprinkle the colored sugars over the icing immediately, forming a row of purple, yellow, and green strips, each about 2 inches wide, on both sides of the ring.
Enjoy your delicious King Cake!