Mardi Gras King Cake
1 cup milk
1/4 cup butter
2 (.25 ounce) packages active dry yeast
2/3 cup warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
1/2 cup white sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
5 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 Tablespoon ground cinnamon
2/3 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup melted butter
1 cup confectioners' sugar
1 Tablespoon water
Scald milk, remove from heat and stir in 1/4 cup of butter.
Allow mixture to cool to room temperature.
In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in the warm water with 1 tablespoon of the white sugar.
Let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes.
When yeast mixture is bubbling, add the cooled milk mixture.
Whisk in the eggs.
Stir in the remaining white sugar, salt and nutmeg.
Beat the flour into the milk/egg mixture 1 cup at a time.
When the dough has pulled together, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 8 to 10 minutes.
Lightly oil a large bowl, place the dough in the bowl and turn to coat with oil. Cover with a damp cloth or plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, about 2 hours.
When risen, punch down and divide dough in half.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Grease 2 cookie sheets or line with parchment paper.
To Make Filling: Combine the brown sugar, ground cinnamon, chopped pecans, 1/2 cup flour and 1/2 cup raisins.
Pour 1/2 cup melted butter over the cinnamon mixture and mix until crumbly.
Roll dough halves out into large rectangles (approximately 10x16 inches or so).
Sprinkle the filling evenly over the dough and roll up each half tightly like a jelly roll, beginning at the wide side. Bring the ends of each roll together to form 2 oval shaped rings.
Place each ring on a prepared cookie sheet.
With scissors make cuts 1/3 of the way through the rings at 1 inch intervals.
Let rise in a warm spot until doubled in size, about 45 minutes.
Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes.
Push the doll into the bottom of the cake.
Frost while warm with the confectioners' sugar blended with 1 to 2 tablespoons of water.
Be sure to tell everyone to inspect their piece of cake before they begin eating it.
To be extra careful, use a plastic toy baby that is too large to swallow, or hide an orange wedge or 3-4 pecan halves inside the cake (avoid items that may hurt someone's teeth) and then simply place the honorable toy baby outside on the top of the cake for all to see and adore!
Pairs Well With
The King Cake is a New Orleans tradition that involves a pastry, a small plastic baby, and a party. The King Cake is baked with a small plastic baby hidden inside, the person who gets the slice with baby in it has to host the next party. Make sure to buy a new small plastic baby so you can get the full effect from this cake! Sprinkle with purple, green and gold sugar, or decorate with whole pecans and candied cherries.