Traditional NOLA King Cake

Mardi Gras has passed and lent season is in full effect for lots of people. I’m really not one to practice the tradition. I believe if we give up something for lent it’s probably something we should give up for good or at the very least moderate a bit more each year as we grow. I don’t place my faith in a God of judgement and I don’t think of Hell fire and damnation too much these days. I’m a yoga student. I believe in karma, love, individualism and happiness.

I have, however, lived in a very extreme way since leaving the life of substance abuse and self destruction. It seems I’m always “quitting” some habit or another, right?? Smoking, drinking, eating this, scrolling that…it’s fucking exhausting and the fact is, we generally struggle with our vices for years before we finally put them to rest for good or learn to moderate. The problem with some of us (me) is that we feel this need to advertise everything we do. It’s a great means of accountability and it works, but then if one should “slip”, the worries of judgement and guilt then come into play. First off, we need to stop worrying about judgement. One of my substance abuse therapists told me 15 years ago that “he who matters doesn’t judge, and he who judges doesn’t matter.” You only have to answer to you, Boo!! Love yourself and “F” the rest. Accept yourself and your flaws. None of us is perfect. We need to stop trying and pretending to be.

That’s my moral message today. Now let’s talk King Cake. I remember my first taste like it was yesterday. I was fortunate to get the real deal straight from one of the first of the purveyors, Manny Randazzo Bakery. In 1965 Manuel Sr. opened the first bakery in Chalmette, LA. In 1992 Manny Jr went on his own and opened a second bakery and then in 1995 he dedicated the entire business to the King Cakes that were and still are in very high demand. People order from all over the world and season after season Randazzo Bakery puts out many thousands of them. Here’s the thing: they’re expensive AF. Oh, and they are also seasonal. Mine aren’t, BTW. I’ll make one and deliver it any day of the year.

Now, don’t get me wrong, that King Cake I first tried was the BOMB. Later I tried many more. Filled with yummy stuff like apples, chocolate, praline pecan and my all time favorite and the one I replicated here; cream cheese and cinnamon pecan filled. At one point in time I wouldn’t have dreamed of giving my recipe away, but today I decided that most people will still buy from me because this is a very labor intensive and time consuming baking project. I’m not concerned with making money from my foodie skills at this time, but I do want anyone and everyone to get their chops around some King Cake like this here…

What’s with the Baby, you ask?? Well, it is a tradition that the person who finds the baby in their cake is designated as Mardi Gras King or Queen, and must throw the next shindig. Ok. Let’s get you a recipe so you can mentally prepare to tackle this for next season or next week, and I can keep brainstorming that sexy Red Velvet version I haven’t had the balls to attempt as of yet.

What You Need:

Brioche Dough:

1⁄4 c butter

1 (16 ounce) container sour cream

1⁄3 c sugar

1 tsp salt

2 (1/4 ounce) envelopes active dry yeast

1 Tbsp white sugar

1⁄2 c warm water (100 to 110 degrees)

2 eggs

6 1⁄2 c all-purpose flour, divided

Cream Cheese Filling:

2 8 ounce packages cream cheese, softened (16 ounces total)

1 egg

3⁄4 c sugar

1⁄8 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons vanilla

1 c chopped pecans

Icing:

3 cups powdered sugar

3 tablespoons butter, melted

3 tablespoons milk

1⁄4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Colored sugars:

Gold

Green

Purple

I get mine at Party City®️

What You Do:

Cook first 4 ingredients in a saucepan over low heat, stirring often, until butter melts;

Cool mixture to 100 degrees to 110 degrees.

Dissolve yeast and 1 tablespoon sugar in 1/2 cup warm water in a large bowl and let it stand 5 minutes.

Add butter mixture, eggs, and 2 cups flour and beat at medium speed with an electric mixer 2 minutes or until smooth.

Gradually stir in enough remaining flour to make a soft dough.

Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes.

Place in a well-greased bowl, turning to grease top.

Cover and let rise in a warm place (85 degrees) that is free from drafts, for 1 hour or until doubled in bulk. I always put mine in the oven with the light on and it’s clearly near to perfect. JS.

Using an electric mixer, mix cream cheese until smooth.

Add egg and blend well.

Add sugar, salt and vanilla and mix until smooth and creamy.

Set aside.

Get dough out.

Punch dough down and divide in half.

Turn 1 portion out onto a lightly floured surface; roll to a 28- x 10-inch rectangle.

Spread half each of cream cheese mixture on dough.

Top this with chopped pecans.

Roll dough, jellyroll fashion, starting at long side.

Place dough roll, seam side down, on a parchment lined baking sheet.

Bring ends together to form an oval ring, moistening and pinching edges together to seal.

Repeat the process with remaining dough and cream cheese mixture.

Cover and let rise in a warm place, free from drafts, 20 minutes or until doubled in bulk. Again the oven with light on is great for rising and proofing any dough.

Remove cakes from oven.

Preheat oven to 375.

Bake at 375 for 15 minutes or until golden.

Cool 2 hours or your icing will melt.

Decorate with piped icing and sprinkle with Colored Sugars.

Here’s what the inside should look like…

As you can see, the brioche has absorbed some of the cream cheese making the dough super soft and, yes here comes the dreaded word; MOIST!! Isn’t it delectable looking, though?? Trust me. You want to make this soon for a practice run, but your people will be begging for it every holiday.

Thank me later. Bye, Babes. Back to the yoga mat for this chick. Damn I feel ALIVE!!

cHELLe ON WHEELS ©️2019

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission by the owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts or links may be used, provided that full credit is given to M.L. Clement or cHELLe ON WHEELS, LLC. with appropriate and specific direction to original content. In other words; if you steal my shit, I’ll call you out.

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