The “King Cake,” like many traditions surrounding Mardi Gras, makes its first appearance after the Feast of the Epiphany at the end of the Feast of Christmas. And for many New Orleanians, THE king cake is the one made by McKenzie’s Bakery. Sadly, for those purists, McKenzie’s closed forever in the late 1990s. But that doesn’t stop every Tom, Dick, and Harry from claiming THEY have the original McKenzie’s king cake recipe.
So as a public service to those for whom Mardi Gras sans McKenzie’s king cake is a tragic nightmare, I am printing below my sister, Sara’s, “original” recipe. Enjoy and Happy Mardi Gras!
New Orleans King Cake
2 Pkgs of Active Dry Yeast
1/2-Cup Warm Water
1-Cup of Heavy Cream
1-Cup Butter (not margarine) Melted
1 Grated rind of Lemon
6 Eggs beaten (be careful not to over beat)
6-7 Tbs. Of Orange Juice
8-9 Cups of Sifted Flour
Confectioner’s Sugar and Water enough to make a paste.
Add 1 Cup of sugar to 3 separate plastic storage bags.
Add 3 drops of food coloring of desired color.
Knead until sugar is consistent color.
Add more Food coloring to darken color to desired shade
In Water combine yeast and water in small bowl, stirring until dissolved and set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, combine the milk, sugar and butter stirring until dissolved.
Add the salt, grated rind, eggs, orange juice, and yeast mixture blend thoroughly.
Beat in 3 cups of flour to make a smooth batter. Knead in 5-6 cups of flour until smooth (It will be sticky).
Round into a ball and place and place in a warm buttered bowl, turning to coat top.
Cover loosely with plastic wrap and a towel and let rise until doubled.
Punch down the dough and divide in half.
Roll each piece into a rope and form into rings and pinch ends together.
Cover and let rise until doubled, about an hour.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Bake 40 minutes.
Remove from oven and move to cooling rack and paint with icing (just enough to help colored sugar to stick; do not coat King Cake with icing)
Immediately upon frosting add colored sugar and pat into the icing forming a thin crust on to of Cake.
Place plastic baby in the underside of cake when cooled. (No plastic baby; no problem. Do like the grade school cafeterias, afraid of choking hazards, and use a red bean instead.)