Mardi Gras in New Orleans is a huge celebration, and one yummy treat that is available everywhere is the King’s Cake. The cake dates back around 300 years, and celebrates Epiphany when the Christ Child was visited shortly after his birth by Wise Men. The actual celebration starts 12 days after Christmas. The tradition always involves a French-style cake, a bean or small plastic baby, and a party. In early times, a large lima bean was baked inside the cake, but in modern times, a ceramic baby representing Baby Jesus is baked inside. Plastic babies can be inserted after baking if a ceramic baby isn’t available. I wouldn’t recommend baking a bean inside, since it could break a tooth and ruin the party, but you certainly can do what is most convenient for you. The lucky (?) guest who gets that baby in his or her serving gets to serve as the queen or king of the party, and is expected to supply the cake and hold the party at the next year’s celebration.
Since the cakes are available almost everywhere during Carnival, you don’t really have to bake your own cake. However, even the most popular commercial king cakes are substandard compared to a freshly baked homemade one. Recently, there was an article that talked about the new craze, that of savory king cakes; that’s a nice idea, but really takes away from the tradition of sprinkling the frosted cake with gold, purple, and green sugars, representing Power, Justice, & Faith, respectively. The following Maple & Bacon King’s Cake is still a sweet one, consisting of a traditional brioche cake, rolled up with a maple and bacon flavored filling and topped with maple-flavored frosting and sprinkled with bacon (the idea coming from the wildly popular donuts served at Voodoo Donut in Portland). Although Voodoo Donut has absolutely nothing to do with Mardi Gras, it would seem to be okay to borrow an idea from them, since King Cakes all over New Orleans come in different flavors and new versions such as those stuffed with cream cheese, almond filling, rolled up with fruit fillings or cinnamon sugar, etc. are sold everywhere.
1/2 cup warm water
3 1/2 tablespoons powdered milk
3 1/2 cups flour
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons yeast
1 pound chopped bacon
1/4 cup butter
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1 tablespoon maple extract
1 beaten egg
2 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup softened butter
1 teaspoon maple extract
1/3-1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tiny plastic doll
Green, gold, and purple sanding sugar
- Place the brioche dough ingredients in the bread machine in the order listed.
- Turn the machine to the dough setting and turn on. Check during the first few minutes to make sure the ingredients are mixing properly and forming a soft ball. If the dough is too soft, add a little more flour; if it is too stiff, add a little more liquid.
- When the cycle is finished, turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface.
- Divide the dough in half and roll each half into a rectangle about 6" x 12".
- Sprinkle half of the maple filling over each rectangle.
- Meanwhile, while the dough is mixing, cook the bacon until very crisp; drain well; measure 1/3 cup of the bacon and set aside.
- Sprinkle half of the remaining bacon evenly over the filling on each rectangle.
- Roll each up into a tight cylinder, pinching the dough so it sticks and forms two long tubes; roll the tubes a little so they are about 18" long.
- Twist them together, place on a parchment-lined baking sheet, and form into a round, using the beaten egg to seal the ends together.
- Brush the entire loaf with beaten egg, and let rise until doubled in bulk, about 45 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 350°.
- Bake the loaf about 30 minutes, or until golden brown on top and cooked through. It's okay if some of the filling leaks out; it can be taken off after cooling.
- Cool thoroughly on a cooling rack.
- Mix the frosting ingredients and frost the cooled cake.
- Shove the plastic doll inside the loaf from the bottom; sprinkle with the reserved bacon, then purple, gold, and green sanding sugar.
- Cut into slices to serve.
Amount Per Serving
Calories 290 Calories from Fat 138
Percent Total Calories From: Fat 48% Protein 8% Carb. 44%
Nutrient Amount per Serving
Total Fat 15 g
Saturated Fat 8 g
Cholesterol 81 mg
Sodium 324 mg
Total Carbohydrate 32 g
Dietary Fiber 0 g
Sugars 0 g
Protein 6 g
Vitamin A 10% Vitamin C 4% Calcium 0% Iron 4%